Mental illness is illness. It is not a choice.
We in the United States have chosen to eviscerate (in the derivative meaning of that word) the medical, social and counselling services which are essential to mentally ill people.
Thus we have hundreds of thousands of ill people who are on the streets or in prison. (Incidentally in both places they are frequently the objects not the perpetrators of violent behaviour). It is a national scandal – one amongst many.
Once in a while a mentally ill person will rampage. Because of another of our other national scandals - e.g. the widespread availability of fire arms – including weapons which were designed for military usage,- those rampages can result in cruel and horrid murders – shocking us to the core (for a week or two) when the murders take place in schools, and bringing us to despair when those killed are six and seven year olds.
We are shocked for "a week or two"
But only those who have lost a child through sudden and accidental death,
or by murder,
or because of unexpected and baffling illnesses,
or because of premature birth or sudden crib/cot death
understand that there are mums and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and cousins, playmates whose grief is unimaginable and will never be completely assuaged.
In the face of the Sandy Hook Massacre, our President did a more than creditable job in being present to the mourners. But not every response has been helpful. There have been fails.
FAIL # 1: The despicable response by Wayne Pierre, President of the National Rifle Association, that every school should have volunteer armed security “guards”.
That is a cynical counsel of despair. (And Wayne Pierre showed his coward’s heart by refusing to take any questions as his so-called “press conference”).
(Just wait until one of those armed volunteers misfires and kills a school child).
FAIL # 2: President Obama has created a “task force” to look into the issue of gun control.
Bold leaders do not create task forces.
Bold leaders speak the truth without fear.
(Weak leaders form committees and task forces – I know that from many years of leadership in Churches).
President Obama knows the truth about our national policy of “no gun control”, and about the tyranny of the National Rifle Association. To my mind he failed the test of bold and assertive leadership. At the very least he should have headed this task force and not passed that buck to Vice-president Biden.
FAIL #3: In the aftermath of the massacre in Newtown there was a spike in the sales and purchases of weapons.
Our coins and bill declare “in God we trust”. Our wallets and credit cards say “in guns we trust”.
There is a culture of violence in the history and at the heart of the United States (and to be fair in many other nations).
Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow.