I recently posted this article on my Face book page. It created quite a response, as is expected but I had a different one than most and feel the need to talk about it. Most people said why didn't the neighbors help? The mom do something? It is always easy to point fingers when you have not walked a mile in someone else's shoes.
Don't get me wrong, it is totally understandable. The killing of a child, an innocent victim that can not protect themselves touches to our most painful emotions, hurt, pain, anger, hopelessness, despair, fear. If it were my brother or niece or nephew I can't even imagine what I would do.
However, I am not them, have walked in a different set of shoes with a different set of experiences, so can distance myself from emotions and have a another, equally valid perspective.
I find it not just sad for the child. I find it sad that nobody asks where were the neighbors, mother, and friends were when this father's father was beating him? Who helped him? Where was his neighbor, friend, or mother and who eased his pain when he was suffering probably that same type of abuse as a child? 84% of prison inmates were abused as children.
When do we start doing something productive with our own anger and pain and spend our money preventing this from happening to future generations - and not just by taking a defensive stand, staying afraid, locking him up, defending ourselves / position and ignoring the problem. Did you know with the exception of homicide, children and youths suffer more victimization than do adults in virtually every category, including physical abuse, sibling assault, bullying, sexual abuse, and rape (American Psychological Association Commission on Violence and Youth, 1993)? Between 3-4 die every single day because of abuse. And the ones that live, grow up.
We teach math, science, art, but where in the school curriculum do we teach children to recognize, understand, and appropriately express emotions? Emotions are the one distinctive factor that makes us human, yet when a child starts throwing a crying fit, we say 'Stop crying. You have no reason to be sad.' or 'Shame on you' for thinking that. We invalidate children and their emotions from the very beginning, at a very young age when they are most impressionable. And they feel wrong, internalize feeling wrong and bad, and those feelings don't go away. Where do they go? Expressed in unhealthy ways directed at others.
It is sad to me that this world just passed mental health parity, and that people had to waste time, money, and energy fighting long and hard just to convince others treating the brain was as important as the body. Most people probably don't even know about the mental health parity legislation, or understand what it means. But it means insurance is supposed to start covering mental issues the same way they do physical issues. Do you really, truly understand what that says about our society? To me it shows we place more value on getting a broken toe fixed than a broken brain.
Being healthy in the head should be the FIRST thing we are concerned about, not the last. If someone is smart enough to know something is wrong, and courageous enough to get it fixed, let them get fixed. Our mind is our gem. It is what we need to take care of the most - when our mind is healthy our body follows. Yet we have always taught the reverse.
Our government spends billions of dollars every single year on guns and armies to kill others (40% of military spending in the world is spent by the U.S. - 711 billion dollars, almost 1/4 of our federal budget), yet what do we spend to make our minds healthy, increase love and support, and ensure every child in America gets a chance at a healthy mind? And are we even taught what that means? We are leaving every child behind if they can't effectively and appropriately express their emotions as it affects us all.
When we see people with drug addictions, eating disorders, alcohol problems, anger management problems, where do we spend our money? On managing the consequences - police enforcement, treatment centers, anti-abortion rallies and lobbying, and jails. Are we working to prevent the problem in the first place or treating the disease after is has wreaked havoc on so many lives? What is more effective?
We are killing ourselves 1.5x as much as killing other people - the ultimate form of anger and hatred. Brilliant, interesting minds and people that contribute in incredible ways to society kill themselves because they can not handle the intense pain that comes along with their gifts. Yet we do not have a public outcry when this happens, even though suicide is preventable - the primary thing standing in the way is society's criticism and judgment.
Emotions make us unique. They are OK to have. Most would be shocked if everyone was honest about how we felt all the time. What everyone needs to learn is how to experience those emotions, what to do with them, and how and when to get help if they start getting out of control.
I will be excited when the day comes that we applaud people for getting help. When we provide free counseling for every single human - and look up to people that are courageous enough to deal with their inner demons instead of running in shame or acting out in despair. When we start to appreciate the differences and uniqueness of problems in the mind, and learn how to capitalize on them instead of running away in terror or hanging our head in shame.
So not only do I apologize to the little boy that was murdered by his father for not protecting him, I also apologize to the neighbors for not giving them the skills to manage the conflict, to the mother who obviously lacked the self confidence to stay away from drugs and believe she was worthy of greatness, and yes, even to the killer, for not making it OK in society to talk about how very, very bad you are feeling, for not providing resources and tools to get you help, and for not helping you when you were a child suffering that same abuse and neglect. It will be a great day, when our leaders stop putting anger, fear, and intimidation above love, hope, and faith.
When are we going to stop associating this photo with depression and mental health, depicting hopelessness, despair, shame and disgust?
And instead use photos that focus on treatment, hope, courage, and the light at the end of the tunnel:
When will we have a public outcry of love for all of the people in Africa that are chained to trees, being starved and taunted to 'ward off the devils' when the real problem is that they are depressed and need medical treatment?
And demand pass legislation that demands they be treated them with dignity and respect
|Field of Hope in Ghana, Africa|
- Not to judge, condemn, shame, or ridicule them for getting help when their head feels lost and they feel hopeless and confused.
- To support them and comfort them to the best of your ability until they are well.
- To encourage them to seek help if needed to prevent their mind from getting so agitated that they act out in any way that harms another person.
- To listen to people (especially children), to treat their thoughts and feelings with respect, and to give them the help, support, and guidance they need to effectively manage them.
- To work hard each and every day to speak and create actions from love, hope and faith, instead of anger, malice and fear.
- To understand and forgive yourself for not being perfect, even at the things listed above, but to continue trying to be a better human being.
Who cares? Why does it matter? Why do we spend all of our energy proving one way or the other - all the while missing the main point? It is today and the future that matters.
What can you do today? Sign our petition and take the first step in showing you care and proving to the world that each and every individuals mental mental health is a priority and matters. You never know, it could just save the life of a child.
Bless You All.