By now, you would be hard-pressed to find someone not aware of the events that took place in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. The murders that took place – and that’s what they were, murders – have been well documented enough that I’m not going to go into detail on them here.
Typically, we also have graphics or photos or videos on here to help tell whatever it is we’re talking about, but you’re not going to see those this week, either. The faces of the innocents are sure to haunt me, and I’m assuming they will most other people as well.
From the standpoint of a parent, it was hard enough to watch what happened and not be horrified beyond words, to not think about the fear and chaos going on and to ask the inevitable how and why questions.
That internal turmoil was nothing like what the devastated families of Sandy Hook Elementary were going through, to be sure. Clearly.
My daughter and I talked about it to a pretty great degree. She’s a news junky and would have seen coverage anyway, so I wanted to be sure that I was there to talk about it when she found out, lest her confusion add to the situation for her.
In reality, as kids often do, she taught me a lesson.
I mentioned at some point how the man that did this was a “sick” individual, and she asked me why no one helped him.
Which, actually, was a great question.
If he’d had the flu or a broken leg or something, someone would have stepped in to help.
But the fact that it was a mental thing – something we are learning more and more details about as the days pass from the tragedy – meant that people left it alone.
Already, stories of “something just being not right” are emerging from people that said that they could tell something was amiss.
And yet, no one stepped in. No one helped
By all accounts, his mother was a controlling one, but even with her constantly around someone would have made sure he got the help he needed if he’d had a fever, or was vomiting or had a physical head injury.
But the fact that it was a mental issue meant that people looked the other way, even while acknowledging that something just wasn’t right.
Make no mistake: a military-grade weapon is what allowed him to carry out the atrocity he committed, but guns weren’t the cause, weren’t the “why” that everyone so frequently seeks in situations like this.
The root cause wasn’t a physical trauma to the head, but mental, and no one stepped in to help.
Paraphrasing a familiar saying, bad things happen when good people do nothing.
We wouldn’t turn away someone with a physical ailment, but we, all of us, often brush aside mental ones.
Telling someone to “tough it out” when they are falling apart on the inside makes no more sense than telling a heart attack victim the same.
Cutting mental services, such as with the closing of Knoxville’s Lakeshore facility, just exacerbates the situation, depriving the people that actually TRY to get help from receiving it, and putting them back out on the street without the help they need.
Until we, as a people, are willing to address that, and until we are willing to actively do something about it, we’ll continue to have more questions than answers.