published Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Dalton Roberts: We know more than we think


by Dalton Roberts

I am amazed at how paralyzed we get when a disaster strikes like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Reading all the responses on Facebook makes you think that the same brainless creature wrote them all.

We all say we have no idea how someone could do such a thing, although it has happened over and over. The truth is that we really do know lots of things.

We know most of them happen in schools. Don't most of our insults and ego slam-dunks happen in school, not to mention victimization by bullies? Knowing they nearly all happen in schools should make us set about creating school atmospheres that nurture instead of hurt children.

There are always those who say it's because we have kicked God out of our schools. Having a teacher say a little Christian prayer at the start of the school day does not put God in schools, and having a court say it is

unfair to pray in the name of one religion when we have students from many religions does not install God in schools.

Because most of us are Christians, we really want the courts to say it is just fine to indoctrinate kids in our religion. That would put God right back in our schools even though it would not be fair to children of nonbelievers and other religions. Anything unfair cannot be of God. So this is not the problem. Period.

We should instead direct our thinking to what it is in the school experience that creates the kind of pain and hatred that leads to mass murder. We need our best minds thinking about that.

We also know that our inattention to the mentally ill among us has a lot to do with these occurrences. A certain percentage of the population is mentally ill, brain-damaged or developmentally incomplete. We all know mentally ill people and we know they are served very poorly in America. We have few hospitals where they can go long enough to even get correctly diagnosed and even fewer where they can go for a treatment plan of substance to be designed.

When our mentally ill act up, as mentally ill people do, they are given a prescription and sent home. If they are poor and have no resources, the prescription is seldom filled. If they have any paranoia, they are afraid to take the pills. That's what paranoia is: fear and, in this case, fear of being poisoned or controlled. I personally have known many people who reacted exactly this way.

If Timothy McVeigh or Adam Lanza had been in a quality hospital long enough to be accurately diagnosed, they would have probably been sent home with a prescription for something to suppress their symptoms. They would not have received enough treatment to be safely put on the streets.

Finally, we know better than to think we can solve the problems with our little meaningless shibboleths like "guns don't kill people, people do." If it's true that guns don't kill people, neither do nuclear bombs.

With a certain percentage of mentally ill people in the population, to make assault weapons like the 30-round magazines used by Adam Lanza so readily available guarantees more massacres.

Yes, we know more than we have acknowledged.

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