Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Unless you've been living in a cave you have no doubt heard about the horrible shooting in Arizona. Within minutes the news media was diving into the possible reasons for the shooting and if it was planned or random. This is pretty normal; people want answers and we rely on the media to report those answers to us. But within hours the situation had devolved into a horrible blame game.

Are the things we say important? Of course they are! Words can hurt people worse than weapons in some cases. We have entirely too many hateful people on TV these days from both sides of the political aisle and it's time to stop it. Not just because it's hurtful, but because it isn't doing us any good!

But the words coming out of the mouths of our political leaders and the news media have nothing to do with why the shooter in Arizona did what he did. From all evidence he is a mentally ill young man. These people could have said the exact opposite of what they said and it's very likely he would have done the same thing.

People are afraid of mental illness. They don't understand it, don't know how to help, and fear what it can do. All of those fears are very rational. Severe mental illness is hard to treat, unpredictable and often something that cannot be fixed. It's not easy to live in a world where we could be killed at random because someone has had a mental break. But placing blame on people who had nothing to do with this mans mental illness doesn't help anyone and it certainly doesn't bring any of those people back.

It's normal to be upset and scared and wanting answers. But the blame needs to be on the shooter and his illness. Not the right or the left or any spot in between. We can't do a lot to keep this from happening again. But what we can do is try to watch out for those around us. Be aware of mental illness and try to help those in your life who suffer from it. As someone who has experienced this first hand, I know there is a limit to that, but if you can help, give it a try. We can also try to make it harder for people with mental illness to own weapons. Aside from that, we should mourn those whose lives were lost, hope that the ones who survive recover and hope that nothing like this happens again.

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