Friday, December 4, 2015

We Interupt This Insanity With Slightly Less Anger

Yesterday's post on the shootings in San Bernardino, CA was drafted relatively early in the ongoing cycle of tragedy. I was very angry. I was very, very angry. I thought about replacing that post with a slightly more rational assessment of the situation. But I decided, no, those feelings were real. And sometimes in the solemn offering of thoughts and prayers in the aftermath of a tragedy like this, I think someone needs to speak to the anger and the frustration. John Oliver on Last Week Tonight adopted a similar approach in the wake of the attacks on Paris last month.

Well, it's a day later, how do I feel now? Actually, I'm feeling pretty good right now. On an even keel, feeling mellow...

Oh hell no! Still angry! But I will endeavor to express myself today with fewer uses of the word "fuck".

Yesterday, I raged on about how there are things within our power to stop this sort of thing from happening all the time. You may think I'm referring to gun control and yes, I am. But stronger gun control measures should not be considered in isolation.

Gun advocates will point out the people who commit these horrible acts of violence and death do so because they are disturbed individuals. That is a valid point but its not one to replace more effective gun control. Rather help for the mentally ill should be in place along with more effective control. A crazy man with a gun is still a crazy man when you take his gun away. We still have a duty to help this person to not hurt others or himself. 

Yet a lot of mental health services have been gutted across this country. States and counties have slashed budgets for mental health care and outsourced services to private sector entities. There are stories across this nation of people waiting week, months even to just talk to a therapist for half an hour. Without oversight by a therapist or psychiatrists, the mentally ill will fall out of the habit of taking needed medications, assuming they can even pay for them. 

So when I say we have it in our power to change the landscape of perpetual violence, we need to use that power to improve all elements that contribute to the problem. Strong mental health programs AND strong gun control laws are what it will take to make dent in this endless cycle of bloodshed.

The mentally ill are not the only ones who are targeting innocents in mass shootings. In fact studies have shown that people with mental illnesses make up only a fraction of the those who commit these crimes. Others are driven by stupidity, anger, ideology.

The killings in San Bernardino on Wednesday were perpetrated by an American born Muslim named Farook and his Saudi born wife of two years. He had made a trip to Saudi Arabia two years ago. Is that when the seeds of darkness and hatred were planted. Who knows? Farook was an employee of the social services center where he slaughtered 14 people. Was he a disgruntled employee? Or had he been radicalized by Islamic extremists? Or maybe it was both. Or neither. 

There's been a lot of noise among the clown car candidates for the Republican presidential nomination about tracking Muslims and restricting their movements. Of course, that worked so well when the United States did that to American born Japanese during World War II. (Not!) That is a dangerous path to follow and undermines the ideals of this nation. If we are prepared to sacrifice our ideals to preserve our nation, then our nation is already lost.

But we have to be vigilant to protect our nation and her citizens and we have to realistic about what we need to do. I feel that 99% of the Muslim population on Earth just want to live their lives in peace but the 1% who want to kill everybody who is not them are doing too damn of a good job of it.

No, we don't have to round up all the Muslims. But I think when a young Muslim man who is right dead center of the Islamic State's demographic goes to Saudi Arabia where there are a lot of radical Muslims, and then that same guy returns to the United States and purchase guns (legally, by the way), it seems to me that kind of overlap should've caught someone's attention. From what I understand, the raw data was there but nobody apparently was seeing the big picture. So what do we need to do to fix that? And what ever it is we need to do, if we take no action or only half measures, if we're not doing all that we need to do....just as we need to do all we need to do in the areas of mental health and gun control, then we will remain in this war zone we find ourselves in.

I saw on Facebook where someone posted "It's not just about gun control". To be honest, I don't know this person's perspective. Maybe they think gun control is not the answer at all. Or maybe he thinks the way I'm thinking, that there are different things we need do in consort to make our country, our world a better place. But no, it's not just about gun control but it is part of the answer. And if we have any chance to reclaim our world from the endless spiral of gun violence, we need to work with the whole answer.

Everybody, be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Counting Down To Infinity