Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lessons of the Tragedy in Colorado

The sickening spectre public violence that seems to take place periodically in American society makes people revisit this issue periodically. Let us not throw up our collective hands in simplistically saying it was just evil - the lessons of the tragedy can be used as a teaching moment.

Our collective memories seem to have forgotten the one thing that many major sociologists, psychologists and criminologists warned us about during the Reagan Era: Dismantle the public mental health safety net, and a generation later, we will pay with a greater incidence of violence is society. Has  such a reality come to pass? To explain it away in these political terms only would be too simple.

What were and are some of the issues?

Is it simply the diabolical nature of the Evil Knight in the Batman Comic book, very effectively presented on the screen?

Is it merely that mental health has been gutted, so that those who could connect with persons in the mental health industry are since the Reagan era, made to roam the streets/ be at large in society, when they need to be in therapy?

Or, is it easy access to automatic machine guns (I use this term loosely), so that one man can inflict damage on such a vast scale?

Or, is it that the safety net having come apart in public education (there are no school counselors left) - where perhaps such loners can find some help?

Or, did this young man have the advantages of birth and society (he came from god-fearing Church going Christian family, in upper middle class San Diego), yet still came apart?

Or, is it one more male who slipped through the family and educational safety net... as some will, anyway?

Is there something about capitalism in its extreme form which seems to dehumanize and alienate and cause such incidents with growing frequency in American society?

Every child has parents, and a family. Every child is a product of a society.

Answers and opinions will vary - but several things are clear, thus far: the perpetrator in this case came from a well -grounded, Christian family; he came from an economically successful background in San Diego; he was a quiet, high-achieving, and even an academically gifted student in high school and at a prestigious U C. What went wrong with these institutions, that the safety net there did not function?

I have no answers, but clearly, we see time and time again, that one maladjustment person, who slips through his family, 'church' and community has the potential to destroy what we carefully build up as our society, as much as any terrorist does. If we spend such a huge percentage on our Defense budget, surely this should be balanced proportionally by comparable expenditures on our domestic society's needs?

This young perpetrator's mental situation became such that he could, reportedly over a span of a couple of months, carefully plan and plot his mad plot to harm not only on innocent civilians, including children, but he could also simultaneously set a methodical trap for police and firefighters, too.

When will society as a whole realize that we cannot cut budgets, and still keep cutting more and more from mental health, education, society as whole without damaging itself, all of our collective selves?

Cutting taxes (and services) is no more than a jingoistic answer; we need to think, discuss, and do better.

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