Monday, December 17, 2012

trying to understand what is impossible to understand

I confess....I'm hesitant to even attempt this post.  I'll never say it right, I'll never not want to say more after I hit "Publish," I'll never avoid contradictions.  And I know I'll be even more rambly than normal since I'm not sure where I'm going or how I'll get there.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around the events in Newtown, Connecticut.  I suppose that's the nature of such things...there's no way to understand events that defy understanding. 

I do think there's a media element at play in mass shootings.  So many of the perpetrators of such events in recent decades spoke or wrote about "going out in a blaze of glory."  They wanted to be known, to be remembered, even if it isn't in the way most of us would elect for ourselves.  And they got what they want.  And that's wrong.  We need to look at how we report these stories.  We need to look at who we remember.  We need to stop flashing the names and stories and manifestos of these criminals on the 24/7 news coverage.  We need to say the victims names ten times for every time we mention the perpetrators. 

And yet...I clicked on the link about the neighbors shaking their heads out how the quiet boy next door turned violent.  I (we??) want to know who committed these acts.  We could talk about this without using names.  We could focus on the "who" instead of the "Who," looking at the underlying factors rather than the actual identity.  Perhaps it's "should" rather than "could."  But even if most media outlets signed a pledge to avoid identifying these killers, there'd be someone who did.  And we'd look.  I say I want to know about the shooter to try to comprehend the cause....which, again, defied comprehension....but I can't say if I/we would truly be sated with less.

Still, I hope we can at least commit to looking more at the victims.  There's so much to learn from them.  The loss of children reminds us to value our youth, to remember the beauty in being six years old.  There's also the heroism of the adults.  The amazing part about that heroism is that it wasn't planned.  The teacher who hid her students before standing face-to-face with the gunman and telling him they were elsewhere didn't have time to plot or plan.  She just did.  As good often does, as heroes often do.  I believe, I need to believe, that most people's reflexes lean towards good.  The greatest evils seem to be planned and yet, while there are many who plan bravery like our military members and first responders, so much bravery is spontaneous.  I find that comforting. 

While I didn't read much about the gunman (again, I can't deny giving in to some curiosity), I've also heard murmuring of mental health issues.  I think the state of healthcare in general is shameful.  We have amazing capabilities, but only for the very few.  Access is even more shameful when it comes to mental health.  And even more people fall through the cracks.  We need early intervention.  We need to give teachers and schools more tools to help them identify issues early and take their concerns seriously (though certainly avoid turning to a position of blame) because they are on the front lines and they see children without the filter of a parent's love.  We need to offer treatments, up to and including residential programs, and ensure they aren't reserved for those with limitless economic resources.  I do believe most mental health issues are diseases and that we need to treat them rather than demonizing them.  Treating the disease can prevent it from leading to evil. 

I'm avoiding the other issue knocking around my head.  I think we need more gun control.  But that'd be a whole post in itself.  I'm also going to resist the urge to add more each time I have a'd never end if I did.  I've rambled a bit, I've thought a lot more.  It isn't a process with an end so I'll artificially hit "Publish" soon and resist adding more each time I realize the things I forgot to write.  Instead, I want to say the names of those lost on Friday (including the first victim, shot in her home, but not including the shooter himself). 
  • Charlotte Bacon, 6;
  • Daniel Barden, 7;
  • Rachel Davino, 29;
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7;
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6;
  • Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
  • Dylan Hockley, 6;
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6;
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6;
  • Chase Kowalski, 7;
  • Nancy Lanza, 54
  • Jesse Lewis, 6;
  • James Mattioli, 6;
  • Grace McDonnell, 7;
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52;
  • Emilie Parker, 6;
  • Jack Pinto, 6;
  • Noah Pozner, 6;
  • Caroline Previdi, 6;
  • Jessica Rekos, 6;
  • Avielle Richman, 6;
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30;
  • Mary Sherlach, 56;
  • Victoria Soto, 27;
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6;
  • Allison Wyatt, 6.

1 comment:

Annabelle said...

Honestly, it's hard to even picture the scope of the changes we'd need to make in the mental health care system to really catch things like this; I'd like to think we will start doing that, but I fear people are just not going to want to wrestle with it.