Sometimes I have to use the words to write about something other than writing.
After the tragic events yesterday, someone asked, "What is wrong with this country that shit like this keeps happening?
And my reply was one word: Poverty.
Of course I was blown off, but that's okay. I'm used to it.
But I wasn't silenced.
Poverty is one of the major symptoms of "what is wrong with this country" but it's also an indicator that connects to so many others.
The lack of available treatment for those who have mental health problems is directly tied to a recognizable economic agenda.
The defense of the right to own a(ny kind and number of) gun(s) is indirectly tied to the economic agenda of individual rights as trumping public safety, community responsibility, common interests.
Failure to recognize the interconnectedness of all these issues is a kind of compartmentalization that enables the adherents of a particular philosophy to believe in two (or more) diametrically opposed concepts at one and the same time.
Aaron Alexis and many other mass killers have obtained and owned their guns legally. When the culture supports the rights of gun ownership and gun owners and a free enterprise system that denies (mental) health care to far too many and places all of that above and beyond the rights of citizens to live in peace and safety, then you have to begin to look at the whole structure of that society and the culture it espouses.
No one wants to look at the big picture. No one (except the sociologists, maybe) wants to admit that there are many, many, many aspects of a culture that support and encourage and, in effect, enable this kind of tragedy.
NOTHING HAS CHANGED since Sandy Hook, just as NOTHING CHANGED after Aurora and NOTHING CHANGED after Columbine and NOTHING CHANGED after Fort Hood and NOTHING CHANGED after Killeen. How far do you want to go back? To Charles Whitman and the University of Texas? NOTHING HAS CHANGED since then in terms of how "this country" addresses issues of mental health and guns.
Is anyone discussing the "news" that poor women are so financially strapped that they cannot afford diapers for their babies? This in a country where a guy who invents a cyber chat engine can buy a $5million "tear-down" house? Is anyone discussing the research that has suggested even the users of the most addictive drugs -- crack cocaine and methamphetamine -- will, if given the opportunity, forgo their drugs in favor of money? Is this an indication that they'd rather be financially secure but when they're not and have no hope of ever being so, they turn to self-destructive drugs?
No, it's always easier to say that there is no answer, because the real answers are difficult to face.
If and when this benighted country ever wakes up to the fact that universal health care -- including mental health, dental care, vision care -- should be as much of a right as the "right" to bear arms, maybe things will change. That might mean the demise of the parasitic insurance companies, of course, and there's solid political support for protecting the insurance companies -- or at least protecting their right to make as much profit as possible.
There is far too little political support for really addressing the causes of these mass killings. And when any one of the causes hits home -- whether it's that right to bear arms or the right to enjoy violent video games or the right to rake in the dividends from for-profit hospitals and for-profit prisons -- then the hand-wringing stops and it all becomes, "Well, there's nothing we can do about it."
There is something you can do. You just don't want to do it.