The horrific events of late have tend a portion of my brain into a whirlwind of unrelenting thought. The nightmares suck you in and I’ve been fairly persistent in avoiding the inevitable media suck surrounding what happened. That being said, I don’t want to avoid looking for the solution. There’s a lot of different voices being raised right now, and there’s no reason why my voice has any particular value to add.
Someone with a very important voice shared her story, though, and this is a voice we should listen to. George Takei shared the article on his Facebook account and it’s been the most valuable thing I’ve read in the wake of all that’s happened.
I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.
A lot of people have cried out in protest against making this political, against using what happened as a justification for political agendas. Schuyler’s dad Robert is an amazing blogger that I lurk on and he said it better than I could–
Are there two sides? I don’t know. I do know that if there are sides, one of them has dead children, perishing in public schools very much like the one my daughter attends. I’m just not sure we can pretend that this is a political issue anymore, or that there’s truly an “appropriate” time to have this discussion. I suspect there are a great many families in Connecticut tonight who are wishing that we as a society had figured this out a long time ago.
I have nothing independent to add to the body of conversation surrounding what’s happened, except the wish to continue that conversation. I want people to keep talking, to keep remembering. Don’t let this become just One More Horror. Eventually one of these awful acts needs to be our country’s breaking point, the catalyst for real action. And it needs to be action not just towards gun laws, which need to be stricter, but to how we treat our fellow members of society. How we address mental illness. How we approach healing. How we approach those who are different than us.