Disclaimer: This post reflects my strong personal opinion on The Arizona Shootings that occurred on Saturday, 08 January 2011 in Tuscon, Arizona in the parking lot of a local Safeway while Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding a town-hall like meeting to meet, greet, and interact with constituents as well as my thoughts on the aftermath vitriolic, highly inflammable, and patently dangerous rhetoric. This is a long post, primarily because I have much to share on this and decided that saying most of it is important to me. Thus, it appears in three parts. This post is part three, the final post in this series.
The first post in this series presented my thoughts and feelings on the horrendous political and pundit cat fights that began immediately following the Arizona shootings; the second post continued this theme, with information on why this American citizen believes that inflammatory political and pundit rhetoric is damaging to our country and utterly disrespectful to the victim’s and their families.
This post concludes this series, offering thoughts and feelings on how political hissing from both the left and right promotes very little, if any, positive insight into addressing mental health issues—the dominant probability for why the shootings occurred.
Has the American Mental Health Pressure Cooker Finally Blown It’s Bouncing Lid?
It is widely known that America’s mental health system and care of those suffering with mental health issues has declined over the past 10 or so years. Compounding this, it can be difficult to find accurate, up-to-date information. For example, according to PsychCentral, the National Institute of Mental Health NIMH Statistics page “puts data into context of 2004 Census data.” Clearly, this is outdated information; after all, it is now 2011.
Additionally, they point out that “substance disorders — like alcoholism — are recognized in the rest of the world as a mental disorder, and indeed are included in the DSM-IV (America’s mental health bible) as such,” but this data is not considered by NIMH. This leaves one to wonder why NIMH leaves this data out of their assessment. If the rest of the world and our own DSM-IV includes it as viable mental health data, why does NIMH treat it otherwise?
PsychCentral cites “prevalence data” from the NCS-R (Kessler et al 2005, which is based upon 9,282 subjects), to determine current mental health statistics. This updated and inclusive information indicates that “we have nearly 1 in 3 Americans who are suffering from a mental disorder in any given year, or over 75 million people.” Frankly, this is rather astounding—if not disturbing—data! Particularly when we revisit the idea that treatment of mental health issues in America has been in decline for the past decade or more!
This post won’t cite detail related to horrific and tragic incidents that have occurred over the past decade; incidents which involved perpetrators with serious, and yes, identifiable mental health issues. Rather, mere mention here should be sufficient considering that national and local media have been addressing this very topic over the past week following the Arizona shootings.
The point here, though, is indeed important: Numerous tragedies have occurred over the past decade, with pain, loss, grief, and death a paramount common denominator in each instance; also, in each instance, the perpetrator was found to be experiencing mental health issues—more often than not, mental health issues that were identifiable and treatable.
Perhaps it is way past time to revisit the idea that our mental health system and treatment of those enmeshed within the darkness of a treatable disease is not only in decline, but failing those who most need it. This failure is no longer acceptable!
Why can’t we as Americans wrap our arms around this idea? Why can’t we recognize this dire need, acknowledge that we can do better, accept responsibility for it, and then respond by implementing programs sufficient to ameliorate this dreadful scourge?
Shame on us for being derelict in our duties as patriotic, compassionate citizens!
Where’s the Balance?
Inflammatory rhetoric inflames!
For goodness sakes, that is precisely why we homo sapiens use it! Seriously! If this requires debate, we are clearly beyond hope of redemption!
Inflammatory rhetoric inflames—and those most susceptible to it likely fall under the umbrella of untreated mental illness. Yet, this is not really the issue here, is it? At least not as regards the insidious, inflammatory rhetoric displayed between the left and right subsequent to the Arizona shootings.
The issue related to inflammatory rhetoric following the Arizona shootings is the insidious right-left ideologue imbalance, resulting in a clear and present harbinger of dire consequences for a nation already struggling with numerous, even frightening, issues.
The bottom line with inflammatory rhetoric is actually quite simple:
Inflammatory political rhetoric is founded on raw, reactive emotion rather than reason integrated with feeling; hence, inflammatory political rhetoric perpetuates an ongoing Great Divide between the far left vs. far right.”
Inflammatory rhetoric captures the attention of media and is played and replayed ad nauseam.
Inflammatory rhetoric stirs up an already highly inflamed political divide.
Inflammatory rhetoric used with seditious intent is beyond disdain, it demonstrates pernicious disregard for all.
Defense of political inflammatory rhetoric is insidiously obscene, antagonistic, and intentionally hostile, serving to, once again, promote deepening the chasm and widening the division between far right vs. far left ideologue.
Stated simply, inflammatory rhetoric incites and promulgates fanaticism, destroying any conceivable attempts at balance.
So … when inflammatory political rhetoric continues to spew “dragon fire-breath,” where in the world is balance?
Where, oh where have the concepts of compassionate compromise, heart-felt expression, balance, and yes, respectful civility disappeared to?
Oh! That’s right! Consumed within the dragon’s fiery throat!
Hmm! How close is that analogy to the “fiery pit?”
So … where is inflammatory political rhetoric really taking us? Certainly not down Alice’s yellow brick road; seriously!
What is Fanaticism?
According to the online Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, fanaticism is a:
fanatic outlook or behavior especially as exhibited by excessive enthusiasm, unreasoning zeal, or wild and extravagant notions on some subject.
How could any simple definition be more spot on?
Can we safely suggest that Jared Lee Loughner acted on fanaticism when he planned and then carried out the Arizona shootings? I suggest that quite probably, his actions fall well within this definition.
Can we safely suggest that the ensuing divisive diatribes between the far left vs. far right following the Arizona shootings fall under the umbrella of fanaticism? I suggest that quite probably, this is a fair statement to make.
Is it safe to suggest that the divisive diatribes between the far right vs. far left prior to the Arizona shootings and the act of Jared Lee Loughner carrying out the shootings bear a direct relationship? In all probability, no.
Is it safe to suggest that fanatical Islamic terrorists represent all of Islam or the Islamic Holy Book? No.
Is it safe to suggest that fanatical Islamic terrorists perpetuate internal and external incitement to ill-defined Jihad—Islamic Holy War? Indisputably!
Is it safe to suggest that fanaticism within the ranks of far left vs. far right will ultimately produce an ugliness of hatred within America that will be increasingly difficult—if not at some point in the near future—impossible from which to recover? Most assuredly!
Let Us Remove the Blinders, Fellow Citizens!
Recognize emotional divisive diatribes for what they are!
Acknowledge that we as citizens each play a role in either their perpetuation or cessation!
Accept responsibility for our patriotic duties regarding this blithering mess and then move forward with steps capable of turning this unmitigated chaos around!
Respond to the heartache of the terrible losses created by the Arizona shootings through heart-felt love and empathy.
Respond to the ensuing raw, reactive, divisive emotional outbursts with reason integrated with feeling—and within the boundaries of dignity and legal recourse.
Respond to blatant fanaticism with a call-to-action (CTA) of turning inflammatory political rhetoric into reasonable discourse and debate.
Respond to what appears to be a political fire-breathing dragon through a combination of “appreciation, compassion, forgiveness, humility, valor, and understanding.”
Only then will we begin to see the concept of trust re-relate to political discourse; only then will we begin to see the concept of trust re-relate to government officials; only then will we begin to see the concept of trust re-relate to governance in this country!
Jared Lee Loughner did not trust his government.
Sadly, he is not alone! Look around us; ask ourselves, our families, our friends: How much do we as individuals or we collectively trust our government?
When you become aware of the preponderance of distrust expressed for our government by many across this beautiful and great land, allow the pain of that moment to serve as an impetus to become more involved in our country’s issues; more involved with possible solutions.
Surely, such action by American citizens would begin to ameliorate tensions associated with raw, reactive emotional outbursts.
Please! This humble American citizen refuses to believe that we have lost complete sight of integrity, dignity, honor, and decorum! Yes, we may have placed these values in a hidden closet somewhere temporarily, but have we actually lost them? I choose to believe we have not!
It is beyond time that we re-clothe our verbal and written discourse within the boundaries of reason.
It is beyond time that we re-clothe ourselves within the boundaries of integrity, dignity, honor, and decorum. So, please! Let us not procrastinate! Let us do it now!
Tragically, Loughner acted out his fanaticism with heinous hatred, spewing death and grievous injury.
Perhaps even more tragically, we, individually and collectively, have no real sense of where perpetual, pernicious, political diatribes are taking our country. Why do I say this? Primarily, because it is far too soon to determine future effects of such rhetoric on our precious children, or the actions they will engage in as they mature into adulthood based on what we are teaching them through ongoing, fanatical, hurtful, and dangerous political rhetoric. Again! Shame on us!
I wish I were able to say I know.
I don’t know where this is going next. Do you?
I do, however, believe that we might predict a rather serious and uncomfortable future for America if we do not dissolve highly inflammable political rhetoric and implement civil discourse and debate in its place, thereby teaching our children sustainable heartfelt values rather than reactive, emotional, divisive, and disturbing diatribes.
In the opinion of this humble American citizen, we can all share in the guilt associated with the Arizona shootings tragedy and the subsequent and hideous divisive political diatribes. Shame on all of us!
I do have hope, though; I believe in our children!
May God bless all the victims and families suffering as a result of the tragic loss and grief associated with the Arizona shootings; they remain in our thoughts, hearts, and prayers!
A brief postscript here: it is widely known and accepted by both the right and left that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a Centrist! Hmm!