Tag Archives: politics

Signs of Life: Mental Health, Guns, Storms and just… Why?

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Signs of Life #1.

My first serious watercolor pencil painting, but also a statement for 2012.

With all the DEATH, where are the Signs of Life?  Signs of Life #1

Traditionally, this is the time to run through the highlights of the past year. Vacations, accomplishments, major milestones, etc. We’ve had those. Nuri graduated from Law School and officially got engaged. Yeah! We went on vacation on Emerald Isle with Brian’s extended family. My own little version of Hell. Kat graduated from college and unofficially got engaged! Yes! Andy bought his own house. Dang! Nik got his first professional photography job. Huzzah! My Dad is doing great and is our new dog Disa’s enthusiastic walker and caretaker.

Obama got re-elected!!

My family’s Signs of Life.

None of us have been direct victims of the disasters of 2012. Drought, Hurricane Sandy, 5 horrendous mass shootings, Republicans. (OOpps, that just slipped in…) None of us got Lyme Disease, flu, had a heart attack, broke bones, killed in war. We have roofs over our heads, make enough money to pay for food and transportation. Nik had major surgery on his jaw and it went extremely well. We’ve managed to hold off Chuck the cat’s cancer for almost a year with 3 successful surgeries.

We have been so incredibly lucky.

On the other hand, some of us are in rough situations like millions of our fellow citizens. Two members of my family have no medical insurance. One is disabled. One has no job and one only has a part-time job. One depends on Food Stamps and Medicaid. Two can’t afford the physical and mental healthcare they need. Our family income has been steadily decreasing over the last 4 years, so my hubby and I can’t help the kids the way we’d like. My father has had to help with Nik’s medical bills.

We’re all still alive in our own homes.

Which is more than many families can say. So many have been hit by one of the series of man-made tragedies that characterized most of 2012.

Drought, Hurricane Sandy, 5 horrendous mass shootings, Republicans.

Global warming. Drought. A new Dust Bowl?

Hurricane Sandy. Global warming. Rising sea levels. Greedy developers and people in denial building densely on fragile barrier islands and wetlands, subsidized by Federal Flood Insurance and mortgage deductions for 2nd homes. Many insisting on rebuilding, lulled by false reassurances from pseudoscientists paid by the global warming denial lobby. Loss of life SO minimal in comparison to Typhons hitting the Philipines and monsoons in Bangladesh, but trust Americans to feel whiny and sorry for themselves.

Republicans. Pfff…. IQ-challenged toadying Tea Party minions without an original thought among 12 of them. Their fear & lie-soaked divisive campaign polarized the nation in a way not seen since the Civil War. I’ve wasted enough words on them.

This past Friday, there was the most horrific mass murder in  my memory in the United States.  I say “in the United States” because mass casualties regularly occur around the world at the hands of our government, religious fanatics, rogue regimes and greedy corporations. Even in the US, deranged killers have shot more people at one time.

For months, we’ve been hearing about a shooting in the parking lot, in a movie theater, in an emergency room, in family homes, in houses of worship. Never was it time to “talk about gun control”. The US has the highest rate of violent gun crimes in the developed world. Mindblowingly high. Our elected officials have no interest in tackling the issue. By the time I heard about the guy in the hockey mask shooting Christmas shoppers in a mall, I was getting “death-by-semi-automatic-assault-rifle-toting madman” fatigue.

But then came the children.

20 six and seven-year-olds and 6 brave adults trying to save them.

The media feeding frenzy started as soon as one of them picked up a disturbance at the school on the police scanner. “School shooting” I heard. Yawn. Another crazy high school kid. “Elementary school shooting” Ears perked, but, eh, probably a guy shooting his wife in the parking lot. “Teachers shot and unknown number of student casualties” Got my attention.  “Sandy Hook. kindergarten rooms. unknown number of children killed. SWAT team. Shooter dead”. Oh. My. God.  He’s shot the babies!

You never want to see these at your kid’s school:

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And you certainly don’t want to see this:

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So in their wisdom, the media are now providing us with headlines like:

“Mental health care in U.S. questioned amid another tragedy” ,

dealing with the mental health aspect of the Sandy Hill school shootings, pleas to not blame autism, and

“What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers”

from the NY Times, a thoughtful article detailing the convergence of factors that often lead a very sick young man like this one  to commit atrocities. Boy, no one’s ever suggested better mental health care might prevent a mass shooting, eh, VA Tech??

However, most articles focused on the gun control aspects, in about a 1:6 ratio (just a loose estimated ratio based on 5 major news sites):

“Has life in America gone insane?” ,

“Put reason back in America’s gun debate”

and one of the most important:

“Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?” ,

from the NY Times, includes this salient information:

Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands.

The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings.

In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half.

Or we can look north to Canada. It now requires a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun, and it imposes a clever safeguard: gun buyers should have the support of two people vouching for them.

Most of the standard crazies came out of the closet:

Despite the report that Rupert Murdoch Wants Stricter Gun Laws After Newtown (he was Australian, after all), Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News “Doesn’t Get the Memo” and “David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. “This network is not going there,”” If you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist in the FOX universe, which lets you know they’ve stalled at the developmental stage before object permanence.

Cynicism runs rampant:

“Sorry, But Don’t Expect Any Change After Newtown”

“[America is] a country in which citizens own roughly 200 million guns, roughly one third of the entire planet’s supply. Ownership is allowed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, even though a 10-year-old would interpret that the right to bear arms was directly connected to the forming of a militia. The Second Amendment is not as much a legal right to bear arms as it is a psychological crutch for our great American narrative of toughness. Don’t expect great change.”

Might it be different this time? President Obama vows to see that this never happens again a priority. NYC Mayor Bloomberg has pledged to use as much of his fortune as it takes to change laws. Even previously rabidly pro-gun lawmakers are unabashedly admitting no one actually needs a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Maybe they’ve heard. Maybe they’ll listen. Maybe they’ll do something. Maybe the things they’ll do will actually make a difference.

Stranger things have happened.

A Tree Grows cartoon fuzzy

In my picture “A Tree Grows” (cartoonized Version),

roots of a stunted, neglected tree reach through broken sidewalk toward the sun.