Monday, January 10, 2011

My Thoughts

It’s taken me a few days to process all of the information from the assassination attempt on one of our members of the U.S. Congress in Tucson over the weekend. This has been for a few reasons, one of which was I was in a workshop class that Saturday from 8:45 – 4:00. Which means while the rest of the world was dealing with what happened, I was in a classroom that had no internet access.

My thoughts on this, however may surprise you.

I’m still processing the shock over what happened, based upon the pictures, video and written reports. I’m also still processing, however the finger-pointing that has begun in light of all of this.

The police are correct in saying the vitriolic words and images, both on television and on the internet, have led to polarizing the United States regarding political leaders and the issues we face as a nation.

However this tragedy could have been prevented.


Let me start off with a true story. This past Friday a father of one of our students had a dead battery. He had been waiting with his son in his car, and once the son was safely inside the school, he couldn’t get the car started. He raised the hood, after numerous tries, and brought out the jumper cables.

Parent after parent drove by, some women, but many of them men, and none stopped. The father had to call family to come to the school and help him jump start his car so he could go home. The moral of this story? Just how well are we doing as a nation to provide assistance to someone in genuine need?

So, back to Saturday’s shooting. According to what I’m hearing, the shooter was mentally unstable. They believe he did not act alone. They don’t know if he was part of any kind of fringe extremist group, however his views were in the extreme. They said he was reading books posing extreme viewpoints and posting his views on the web in a way that indicated he was mentally unstable.

Some things the media are not telling us:

Was this man a part of the mentally ill population who are homeless because of budget cuts?

Was this man communicating with other mentally ill people as a result of being homeless?

Were his actions not being monitored because of the budget cuts, that he was able to get a gun and ammunition?

As I said earlier, the finger pointing has begun, but the biggest culprits as to responsibility? Congress.

If they don’t want mentally ill people buying guns and shooting members of Congress, then perhaps they should re-think their budget policies toward the mentally ill. It’s blatantly obvious the lobbyists for funding aid for the mentally ill don’t provide the level of “perks” to members of Congress as the Pentagon.

Don't get me wrong, what happened that day was wrong. It should not have happened. My prayers have and continue to go out to those involved and the families of the victims.

But let’s not stop there. How well are we as a society doing at helping not just the mentally ill who are homeless, but the homeless population in general?

How well are we at helping others out in non-threatening situations? We’re great at helping out our friends, but how many people who are not in our circle of friends get left out in the cold?

Which brings me to this morning at the school. Another cold morning, another incident of the same father needing his car jumped.

While I pointed to the man as people drove by to try to get him help, the parents still ignored it and drove past the man. Finally, one of the last mothers to bring her daughter to school, parked her car in front of his and realized his need. Once her daughter was safely in the school, she came out and gave the man’s car the jump start he needed and they were both safely on their way home.

I just pray the daughter learns a few things about service from her mother. We could use a few more people like that.

Update: It appears the gunman was living at his parent's home. Which makes me wonder why he was still not being monitored? Were Mom and Dad not able to afford medical treatment for this man? When this man was getting kicked out of college for mental illness issues, where was the intervention? Well, the intervention that should have occurred probably got cut with the budget for the Health & Welfare facilities in Tucson.

Hopefully others will get the help this man obviously needed before anyone else gets hurt.

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