We, as a country, are not interested in mental health reform. We have a society that is much more concerned with wealth than it is with human interaction and emotion. We do not encourage adults or children to seek therapy - when, quite frankly, many of us need it. And that's not an insult. It’s the truth. We have a country that encourages being quiet and pushing through as opposed to feeling our feelings and actually healing. You see it in the way traumatized veterans are treated when they come home from war and you see it in the way traumatized victims of sexual abuse are treated. When we are hit with trauma (and trauma is a pretty big umbrella that hits people of all walks of life), it's hard to know what to do or how to feel. It takes time to get those feelings out. But, in a society where work is rewarded over health (and many jobs do not give people enough paid leave for physical much less mental injury), we are encouraged to swallow that pain, put on a plastic smile and push through. That's a simple recipe for poor mental health in adults. And, when people who have not addressed their pain have children of their own, they often pass this on to their kids. That leads to trauma in children. And, as adults, we're often ashamed of our own trauma, so how are we supposed to teach our kids not to be ashamed of theirs? So, the cycle continues. Children put on plastic smiles and try to push through and maybe they’re bullied at school or maybe they’ve fallen through the cracks of underfunded schools or social services. And most of those kids don’t become school shooters, but every last one of them is a victim of our lack of empathy and understanding for mental health in our country. So, I agree. We’ve got a mental health problem in our country that needs to be treated in children and adults. But, if you feel like mental health is the only reason for school shootings, please do me a favor and honestly ask yourself if you have put mental health reform on the top shelf of priorities? Are you looking at your lawmakers’ past voting records on mental health and vowing to not vote for anyone who's been working against mental healthcare reform? Because, if you're not, it doesn't seem like you're really that interested in improving mental health in our country. What you’re really interested in is keeping people from talking about gun reform.
And, guess what? We still need to be talking about gun reform. And we need to stop looking at it so black and white (absolutely no guns vs absolutely no gun laws). We’re letting the extremes keep us from reaching any compromise. The argument is not all-out ban vs. no gun laws. So, let’s get past that. I’ve heard anti-gun-reform gun owners say that they’re against a semi-automatic weapon ban because that’s too general a term and that anyone who knows about guns would know that. And, you know what, they probably do know more about guns than I do. So, if you’re one of those people, instead of just stating that something is too general and ending the conversation at that, let's talk about the semi-automatic weapons that are not necessary for a person to have. Tell me what the line in the sand is in your eyes. Then, let’s debate on that. Saying, "you can't just ban ____" isn't an option anymore. Not with all this violence. And that old argument of, “look at Chicago, they’ve got more gun laws than anyone and they still have one of the worst gun murder rates” needs to be looked at for the full picture that it is. Chicago does have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but 60 percent of the guns confiscated on the streets of Chicago come from Indiana, Wisconsin and Mississippi, who don’t have strict gun laws. And that other old favorite, “the bad guys will always find a way,” doesn’t hold true when you compare our gun laws and our murder rates to other countries who do have gun reform (particularly our mass shooting stats). We need to talk about clip sizes, we need to talk about what guns are appropriate to have and which ones are not. We need to have this conversation now. And we, as a nation, need to come to some agreement on how to keep us safe. And we need to vote out the people who will not budge.
We need a conversation that is interested in finding answers for mental health and gun reform because...
Children are being murdered. Parents are kissing their children goodbye, putting them on school buses and then getting frantic text messages from their child at school saying they hear gunshots. Children are not coming home from school. Ever. This hasn't happened just a handful of times. This has happened way too many times in colleges, high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools across our country. Children are dying of gunshot wounds in school. We all need to stop and really process that. Children are dying of gunshot wounds in school. In America. Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a parent whose child is not coming home or of a child who has seen their best friend killed in a hallway. Really put yourself in their shoes.
We don't get passes anymore to say, "It's all mental health" or "It's all gun reform." It’s both. And, quite frankly, America is doing far too little to address either.
Originally posted on Facebook.