The human animal can be one of the cruelest of all in the kingdom. For reasons we may never know, humans dive deep into dark depths before anyone around them gets a chance to prevent the plunge. When the plunge is made — bad things happen, very bad things.

Take for instance the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut. A man with a personality disorder, and immediate access to guns, guns down a room full of children. Innocent lives were destroyed. This tragedy has brought many a voice together in discussion on the why, how, and what next of this issue. The truth is… we don’t know the answers.

What we do know is this — there are thousands upon thousands of people out there with psychological issues who simply cannot get help. For whatever reason, the system doesn’t work. I posted this on Facebook:

In light of what has happened, and some of the discussions I have been a part of — I want to share this. About ten years ago I lived with a woman who suffered from numerous mental disorders — two of which were alcoholism and bi-polar disorder. It was tough… really tough. I had to take her to the hospital a few times because of her conditions (one time she had a BAC of .384). Eventually she became a danger to herself and those around her. Every time me and her mother would take her to the hospital, we’d ask about committing her to some type of program. They wouldn’t take her until we had proof she was a danger to society.

Eventually I learned she had a gun in the house.She was a danger to society. Eventually she died of alcohol poisoning. And to herself. She needed serious help and the healthcare system wouldn’t step up. She was inches away from madness and could have killed me at any moment. I know others that deal with loved ones who suffer from mental and emotional disorders and it’s heartbreaking to know how little help there is out there.
It always shocks me to look back on that time and know someone with a serious mental illness slipped through the system’s cracks. But what this illustrated to me was that the root of the big picture is that so many of our systems are flawed.
  • Healthcare
  • Gun control
  • Politics
  • Education

The list could easily go on and on. There is, I believe, a solution that is much easier to grasp than we understand. That solution is to focus on culpability and responsibility.

On a daily basis I see people breaking laws. Running stop signs, speeding, under-age drinking, drug abuse — another list to go on and on. What if we simply stop assuming any one of us are above the law? What if we all start behaving as if we understand Spock’s law (the needs of the many…)? What if, we behave with more responsibility?

I’m not just talking about the individuals — I’m talking systems as well.

We cannot knee jerk our way out of this. Pointing the finger of blame at one person or issue will get us nowhere. If you go down that path, you’ll be blaming society’s woes on anyone with a mental or social disorder, and that dark path will wind up with a lot of fingers pointing to a lot of innocent people.

I have friends with special needs children. These are good parents who do everything they can to raise their children right. But they can’t fight this battle alone. We are a very  large village and we have spent the last couple of decades distancing ourselves from ourselves. Becoming very much a “me”-centric country has helped to foster an environment where very bad things can slip through the cracks.

How can this be fixed? I don’t have the solution, but I do have some observations:

  • Let kids win: Schools have adopted an “everyone wins” policy. What happens when those same children go out into the real world to find out that, no, not everyone wins.
  • Stop letting sick people slip through the system: If a person who is known with such issues like bi-polar disorder is brought into a hospital with a BAC of .384 and has repeatedly tried to commit suicide — they are a danger to themselves. If a person is a danger to themselves, they are also a danger to society. Admit those people and help them learn to help themselves.
  • Stop selling automatic and semi automatic weapons in department stores: Hunters do NOT need these types of weapons to kill animals out in the wood!
  • Law/Government: Stop wasting time and precious resources on IP Law and other silly issues (you know, the ones that set the precedent where no one takes responsibility for their own actions).
  • Take responsibility: Speaking of which — everyone, you are responsible for your actions. Stop blaming everyone else when you screw up! Own your mistakes and evolve. It does society no good for everyone to be able to simply pawn off the blame for what they’ve done.
  • Media: Stop glorifying mass murders and serial killers. Not everyone deserves their fifteen minutes of fame.
  • Television Networks: Stop broadcasting reality television because it simply glorifies stupidity, arrogance, ridiculous behavior, and only serves to make so many people point and say “See, I ain’t that bad!”

I’m not saying I have the answers for our woes. I am saying we need to keep this dialog moving forward. Who knows, someone might be blogging out here and type the perfect solution that will help to get us through a rather dangerous period. And don’t think, for a second, I don’t see all of the good around us. There are heroes popping up every day. With each tragedy the human spirit steps up and shows its resolve. I’m a firm believer, however, that we’d be much better off staving the flow of tragedy than having to rely on every day heroes to save us from a continued downward spiral into despair.