While driving around this morning paying some bills, I heard this story on the Glenn Beck Show and I thought the coach was incredibly spot on. Here’s a bit of what he said –
“I don’t know what needs to be done. I’m not smart enough to know what needs to be done, OK?” he said. “I know this country’s got issues. Is it a gun issue? Is it a mental illness issue? Or is it a society that has lost the fact, the understanding, that decent human values are important?”
Then over on the Diane Rehm Show they were discussing mental illness and the really messed up laws surrounding getting people with serious, serious problems help. One of the participants made a comment along the lines that we don’t have a mental health system, we have a criminal justice system. This was in response to a story about a family whose son should have been committed but the mental hospital told them that since he hadn’t become violent that they would have to wait until he tried to hurt someone or hurt himself before they could admit him. Subsequently the kid one day wrapped his head in tin foil to keep the CIA from reading his mind and then a few nights later he got up in the middle of the night, left his house, broke in to a neighbor’s house (who happened to be gone at the time), and took a bubble bath. Needless to say he was arrested and now has been charged with two felonies.
Last night on my way home from work I was listening to the Jerry Doyle Show and he was discussing the economy and the “fiscal cliff.” During the show he talked about how both parties do what’s best for the party and not what’s best for the country and how each side has cheerleaders that fan the flames of division. He’s completely right. Our elected officials (for the most part) have displayed time and time again that they only care about promoting their political agenda and not about actually addressing the issues that face our nation.
I think these three radio segments/stories (for lack of a better term) really display the deep conundrum that we face as not only a nation but as a community and society. For far too long people have ignored the importance of genuine empathy and caring for our fellow human beings; instead we obsess over sports and celebrities or drown ourselves in religious doctrines while completely missing the point that said doctrines are trying to teach or go through life with a blind devotion to one ideology or another. The media in this country feeds off of these divisions, exploits them by creating outlets for each specific group that do nothing more than cheer that group on, and inundate us with the comings and goings of celebrities and endless discussions of various sports. But you can’t just blame the media because they simply follow the money. The cheerleading and sports reporting and invasion of celebrities’ privacy gates ratings and sells magazines and that is all that the handful of companies that own 90% of the media in this country care about. We have had generations of kids brought up in abusive environments, being emotionally suppressed, told by society that they should only care about themselves while at the same time being taught that things like accountability and responsibility are just words that hold no meaning and that they are owed, entitled, something from the world at large. Religious leaders spend more time preaching about why the nonbelievers are doomed to suffer while only their flocks are the righteous despite the fact that said ideas run completely counter to the actual teachings of their faith. You add all of this up and the result it a cesspool filled with an atomic bomb waiting to explode.
So what do we do? How do we truly fix these issues? For years I have believed that the only real way to affect any serious changes in society is through the education of our children; through parents’ teaching their kids about right and wrong, caring, and empathy through leading by example. I knew that this would be a lengthy process and one that would likely take generations to come to fruition but how is this even possible with a society that cares so little for one anther? How do you convince people to care? How do you persuade people to treat others the way they want to be treated? I honestly don’t know. We have people that grew up in horrible conditions of varying degrees and as a result have so much in their psyche that has developed as a way to defend against those situations that breaking through those walls seems nearly impossible. To me this isn’t about left or right, in fact I think political ideologies have gotten in the way and done more harm than good in this country. This is about taking care of each other, which is sometimes something as simple and small as being kind. I hope and pray that we see the light and make it through this fog. I do have a great faith in humanity’s potential but I worry that it has become buried and lost in our collective lack of kindness and respect.