It’s taken me some time to wrap my head around the events and aftermath of the Connecticut shootings. Actually, my head’s not wrapped around it at all. How could it be around such a senseless tragedy? At first I avoided writing about it, and even reading about it to the extent I could. After all, what more can I add? What unique perspective? What words of comfort, not just to the survivors of this horrible event, but to the nation, the world at large which also suffers in its wake? But I soon realized I needed to write about it, if only for my own therapeutic relief.
It amazed me how quickly after the news broke that the polarizing debates began to emerge. The only thing that seemed to unite us was our grief, our unshakeable sadness, and our desperation to understand how this could have happened, again, and how we could keep our children safe now other than letting the school bus just pass by our stop without putting them on it.
My first instinct was to avoid the topic of gun control. I even admit to rolling my eyes at the first few posts I saw on Facebook which heatedly addressed the subject, and especially the less-than-accurate statistics reported in support, or dissent of it. But I can’t deny that it is central to this problem and that possibly I’d been too quick in the past to join one side of the argument, perhaps missing some middle ground where lives could be saved with just a little compromise. But none of us seems to have the answer to the extent that this problem isn’t still a topic of debate. We wouldn’t be talking about it if so many lives hadn’t recently ended in senseless violence.
My preferred issue, if you will, though I frankly prefer not to have to take issue at all, is the deserted plain of mental healthcare in our country. To me that is the most senseless part of it, because I still contend that people aren’t motivated by weapons to destroy lives, but rather their own destroyed lives to employ the use of weapons. This is the obvious eddy in the raging rapids that intertwine our passionate arguments about gun control and help for the mentally ill. Or more simpy put, the worst chicken and egg quandary mankind may face in modern society, if you’d rather. Some would argue that resources for mental health are abundant. My ob/gyn confessed, after counseling me on the signs of postpartum depression, that he wrote more prescriptions for antidepressants than birth control pills. And therein, in my very lay opinion lies at least part of the problem. If we have enough help for mental illnesses, is it given too freely, without enough accountability, both on the part of the healthcare system and more poignantly the patient/family? There seems to be an awfully long line forming at the “get your quick fix for whatever” counter. We’re all too busy, too burdened, or too broke to invest in our own care. We put our faith in a system that even the most Obamacare-opposed would agree needs sweeping reform of some kind.
As you can see I have no answers. I have more questions, all of which lead to the one we are all asking: why?
What I do have is a tremendous heaviness in my chest that spreads out to my limbs for the victims and survivors of this tragedy. I hugged my children tighter that day, and have let my laundry pile up ever since, partly due to the immobilizing sadness and fear, partly due to a likely necessary change in perspective. We all lost a bit of our innocence that day, none so much as those precious brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. The debates are important, if painful, if we’re to fix this and keep our children, our future, safe. Rage on, I say. Don’t give up trying to figure this out. But also, turn off the tv, give Facebook a break and your children one more hug, even if they look at you funny because you Just. Won’t. Stop. Hugging. Them.