So, let us all be very clear on my post today: I am so sad and I am so mad and the mass murder in Connetticut is the cause. It is, of course bothering all of us but what got to me this morning as I wasn’t certain I wanted to appear obvious in my comments was a news report on a “rush” by thousands of Americans on the weekend buying up thousands of guns worried about a gun ban by the government in response to the rather obvious. Really? Clearly, all “Americans” are not gun and violence mongers and the debate over “guns don’t kill, people kill” will never, ever end with any compromise and for non-Americans with like minds, most of us do not understand your obsession with “rights”. Critics of gun control are actually suggesting what would have prevented 20 innocent children and 6 educators from being mercilessly gunned down were armed teachers and administrators! Really? Let me be very blunt…the culture of guns and violence that pervades America is the real reason this and other mass murders occurr. I know the U.S. will never ban guns and I also know that even in Canada with gun restrictions, mass murders are ineveitable but the production of violent movies, television, video games, etc. is pervasive.
December 15 was the one year anniversary of the tripple homicide and suicide of four young people near Claresholm, Alberta. A 21 year old, Derek Jensen, was upset with an ex-girlfriend and after forcing her and three friends off the highway. he sprayed all four with bullets then killed himself. Miraculously, 21 year old Shayna Conway survived but Jensen’s ex, Tabitha Stepple, 21, Mitch MacLean, 20 and Tanner Crasswell, 22 did not. Stepple was driving here three close friends to the Calgary airport where the three Maritimers were catching a plane home to Canada’s East coast for Christmas. The press described the killer as “the last person anyone ever thought capable of this”. Doesn’t it seem the press always says that?
The truth is, every single killer in these horrible stories never seems to have “issues” when clearly they do. True, the debate over guns and rights will go on forever but what hasn’t been debated enough is the root cause of all…mental health!
During the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers annual national convention in Winnipeg, December 2-4 this year, yours truly and fellow speakers, Linda Edgecombe, Stu Schultz and Big Daddy Tazz presented a panel discssion to the delegates. All four of us were concerned the discussion would be inappropriate and uncomfortable for such a meeting, especially since of our group, only Tazz makes a deliberate effort of speaking to mental health and he does it through stand-up comedy. The response was completely opposite. At the end, the over 250 attendees gave a spontaneous, five minute standing ovation and following that were many hugs, kisses and tears. The support was overwhelming but the most consistent comment was the courage it took to address a taboo subject in a public forum and “It’s About Time” resonated through the hallways. People have a hard time discussing mental health and that makes sense but since I was a child, many taboos have been addressed and society has grown better as a result. Disablity issues are one I am most familiar with and although much needs to be accomplished, what has been done is huge and it all started with bringing “out of the closet”, subjects that people are uncomfortable with. The rather obvious sexual orientation is another elephant in the room and mental health has to be the next.
Because it may be true that guns don’t shoot themself, it is also true that guns in the hands of someone with mental health issues is like lghting the proverbial fuse for so many of these disturbed people.
While it may be true that an armed prinicipal at Sandy Hook Elementary may have saved the lives of these beautiful souls, the obvious mental stability of the killer may have never reared it’s ugly head if his issues may have been addressed sooner and as hypothetical as discussion as this may be, clearly buying more guns is not the answer.
Please, please, please, lets open another closet door and start talking about mental health because the most courageous thing a human being can do is ask for help, not snap a magazine into a killing machine.
Our hearts go out to all those who lost a loved on in this latest tragedy and all the tragedies that take lives with absolutely no reason at all. I can tell you that in my whole life, I have asked “Why” countless times and alhough answers may or may not come, my faith and beliefs cannot be shattered. As crass as the expression may be, “It is what it is” helps me get through the days when answers don’t come easily. Today is one of those days.