Monday, January 21, 2013

The Least Among Us Are The Most Used As Props

Shortly after 10am, outside the local bahn mi shop, a block from the mill, where I phoned in my lunch order:
"Any spare change?"
" Hey, Gino."
You asked me for shit this morning. Enough already, yeah?
We 'fist bump'.
What you doing now? shouldn't you getting some sleep?
"Where ever I can."
Dude, grab a spot and close yer eyes.
"Where ever I can."
Do that.
"Why are you here again?"
"They got good sandwhiches."
Want one?
That's it, though. Rest of the week, no more, yeah?
Tween you and me, OK? It's Our Thing.
"I won't tell"
Better not.
Cross yer heart?
"I promise."

A person under the age of 18yrs cannot do a lot of things within the law, the assumption being that until one is a legal adult, they lack the right mind to make certain decisions: like vote, join the Army, enter into contracts, get a tattoo, sign a lease, buy a beer... a whole list of varied things.

I'm not complaining about any of this. For lack of understanding a better way, we set an arbitrary age limit. It's all good.

In recent years, and most recently Sandy Hook and some tragedy that occurred in New Mexico over the weekend, we have seen terrible mass shootings, usually involving a certain class of semi-automatic firearm.

Now, we got this rush to 'buy all the guns you can' before Obama 'takes them all', because, face it, President Obama and some other politicians (who're really smarter than the rest of us) remain focused on the means of massacre instead of the cause of massacre.

Every one of these shooters, and you can walk it back to every single case, was suffering from a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder. So, after talking big about restricting gun freedoms for all, the next move is to mention something like..."Oh yeah, and we'll promise more money to care for nut cases, too."

Strange... that money never seems to show up in the form of fewer derelicts standing outside 7-11 at 3am, or sleeping behind in the ally...
Every one of whom is afflicted with a psychiatric disorder.

I personally know a few of them by name.
I give them dollar coins and quarters fairly regularly, other times one might follow me in and I tell the clerk to ring up an extra coffee for 'my friend' over there....
Chat with them a bit without getting too involved.
Bradly is a favorite: always sporting a seemingly just-pressed tie with goldish tack, that matches his button down shirt and freshly shaved mug. It all clashes with the shock-purple back back (price tag dangling from the zipper), filthy trousers, holey shoes, and body stench.
Seen from the waist up, Bradly is ready for the boardroom. Yet, the only board he sees is the wooden bench of the bus stop.
And there's Linda, Jimmy and Robert as well.

(Through them I am reminded of Christ's admonition per "the least of my Brother's...".
Sure, I might totally suck at the 'Christian thing' most of the time, but it has taught me a thing or two (if not more than that.)
Maybe I find it rewarding when outcasts and walkpasts know my name, but not yours?
I don't know. Not important...
What I see in them is not much different than the mug that stares back from the mirror: just another stupid clown in the circus that we call Life.
They might get a cup of coffee/maybe a donut, and I get on to work feeling better than I did when I left the house.
I guess that when I do arrive in Hell for a deservedly large list of things, it won't be because Bradly put in a bad word for me.)

What seems to escape us all is that...
Every one of these people, derelicts and nutcases they may be, is somebody's child or parent.
Those Somebody's love them.
Love them dearly...
Worry about about them hourly...
And yet are powerless to do anything to help them.

It's not about how much money a politician may promise (usually under his breath, as an after thought on his way to take away your guns.)
It's not about money.
Not at all.
And it's not about guns, either. (Well, it is about guns for many politicians, none of whom really want to save schoolkids as much as they want to criminalize a hobby that they disapprove of.)
It's about people... and another set of rights that have nothing to do with guns, but everything to do with being in the 'right mind' to make decisions for oneself.

Collectively, we have failed these people just as the politicians have failed them and us.

Guns don't kill people.
Crazy people kill people, using guns, because they have the right to be that way.
This has got to stop.


Brian said...

No easy answers there, as you have to (or at least ought to try to) thread the needle between getting the truly dangerous out of circulation and respecting the autonomy of people to the extent that you can.

And of course--regardless of how you draw those particular lines--this is exactly the kind of service government should be providing, as there is zero profit to be had in providing mental health care to the indigent, and demonstrable negative externalities from failing to do so.

Brian said...

That said, most mass murdering mentally ill people are not indigent...

RW said...

Gino you and I, people who voted for President Reagan in 1980, do bare some of the responsibility for a small portion of what is on the streets.

I'm sure the bobbleheads will now provide links, arguments, statistics and personal affidavits to twist this truth as well as they do most everything else, but you and I were there, and facilities were closed or cut back by our guy.

I don't believe there is a direct line of connection, though, between the two issues, as near as you make it. But we are responsible for part of the population out there.

Gino said...

RW: and prior to, when Reagan was govorner in CA. but its goes beyond the cutting of funding for facilities...
i'll get to that.

Mr. D said...

I'm sure the bobbleheads will now provide links, arguments, statistics and personal affidavits to twist this truth as well as they do most everything else, but you and I were there, and facilities were closed or cut back by our guy.

Reagan had a role, of course. I don't know what happened in California, but I do know that there were plenty of people in Wisconsin who favored changing the way mental illness was treated. This was a very personal concern of mine, because my mother suffered from mental illness throughout her life and was in and out of mental hospitals several times during my childhood and early adulthood -- this would have been from about 1969-70 through about 1983. There was a fairly broad consensus on the matter that we didn't want to keep people with mental illnesses locked up, so she was in and out of treatment all the time. When my mom was on her meds, she did very well. When she was off her meds, she could be dangerous to people -- she threw a bottle at a neighbor kid and threatened people numerous times. And she would hit my father and threaten to kill him all the time. She also beat the shit out of one of my brothers, who was the scapegoat for some reason. I was lucky -- she almost never laid a hand on me and I have no idea why.

Gino's right; just about every person he encounters out on the street has someone who loves him or her, but in most cases they aren't able to adequately deal with the enormity of the problem. We sure the hell weren't able to.

Personally, I'm less concerned with who is to blame for the current state of affairs than in trying to figure out how to make things better going forward. It's a tough scenario, because the concerns about warehousing the mentally ill were legitimate then and remain legitimate today. And there are no good answers, really.

Gino said...

Mr D addressed much of what i was going to say next.

and whatever Reagan did, there have been several admin since then who were/are able to see the shortsightedness of the previous policy... yet, have done nothing of substance while the mid nite population levels at 7-11 remain unchallenged.

RW said...

Gino - if President Reagan hadn't done it no succeeding administration would have had it there to ignore. And probably not ignore, but find it difficult to bring out of its entrenchment. Saying no one changed it doesn't mitigate the original act, in this case. It was a pretty directly related cause and effect. However I'm still not sure, as you've said, if it can be directly linked to gun violence. I'm merely making the point that the policy of reducing facility for people who need help did have a source and a starting point, no matter how many bobbleheads want to try and revise one of the sorrier episodes of their porcelain god Jesus Reagan.

Gino said...

RW: i get ya. i'm not granting a pass on a poor policy decision.
i'm more worried about what we can do to correct it because that is the problem we have now.

i want to know fewer Bradlys, but the mere act of appropriating money wont get us there.

other things need to change too. i'm gonna get to that.
i need to stew this thought for a bit.

kr said...

monkeywrench ;) ...

There are always the OLDE standbys, prayer and, in edgier Christian circles (where I have run, although it's been a while really), "deliverance" or, the more extreme, exorcism ... I don't think exorcism is necessary in most cases, although I know it still happens so apparently it applies sometimes, but the type of healing known as deliverance does, as I recall, frequently have direct or secondary affects on entrenched unhealthy/dangerous beliefs and thought-patterns.

I often think, as much as some people will necessarily consider this a weakminded, functionally empty set of answers, that in the end they may be the ONLY set of *actual* answers.

The further we move from the spiritual, the less likely we can directly affect thinking (chemical fixes affect chemistry, but not thinking patterns ... talk therapy can do some of that, but very few people, even therapists, can actually get a mind to/let a mind reprogram) ...

... and of course, is there is a God, any "answer" that denies Him(/Her/It/um, beyond gender a little bit, don't you think?!?) is necessarily *going to fail*.

Which seems to be a large part of our observable results-pool. (Jus' sayin' ;). ) Even the people who have "successful" therapy of one sort or another are always looking for 'the rest' of the solution.

People who have received spiritual healing, frequently remain free as long as they don't choose to re-own old habits.

And now that I've briefly and randomly reappeared as the token Crazy-ass Christian, I will jet off again to resume my stupidly-busy life ;). It was nice to see all your names again ...


Gino said...

kr: God doesnt always work. that is why people die of cancer every day.

i'm talking about real chemical dificiancies of the brain, here.
as real as other physical malady.

Anonymous said...

Ok sorry Gino, veering into left field or off topic for a second here. To say "God doesn't always work, that is why people die of cancer every day" is taking the human view (we are we can't help it.) :) God has a plan and as believers we all know what the big picture plan is. What we don't know is how long God intends for us to actively participate in the plan while living on earth.

Now as to the rest there is some research out there that that does point to chemical deficiencies (vitamins/nutrients) that can be corrected with dietary changes and/or vitamin supplements. Have to wonder do we have more troubled people now than we did 30 years ago and how much of that is the result of consuming chemicals as a result of eating more processed foods?

This is not to discount those with issues not easily corrected by just a change in diet.

RW - I can see where guns and mental health can very easily be connected. One of the rumblings I hear in my school district concerns doing psych evals all on students on a scheduled basis. I have a problem with that becoming a part of a school (govt) record. With the knee jerk reactions going on to the CT shooting, I will not be surprised to read that towns/govts will be trying to push for laws that require psych evals for gun ownership. These are ideas that have merit because the potential is there to catch/solve a problem early.

The problem is that people have to implement them which pretty well guarantees abuse and epic f-ups.


Bike Bubba said...

It's worth noting that every bill Reagan got passed did so with the approval of Tip O'Neill (D-MA) and Robert Byrd (D/KKK-WV). That's where the law starts, folks.

See, RW, no charts necessary.