What I hope happens next

16 Dec

There are three things that I hope happen as a result of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

1. Teachers are recognized as heroes.

When we think of heroes in our society, real ones, policemen, firefighters, and military come up, and rightly so.  I want to add teachers to that list.  We saw on Friday that they are willing to literally die for our children.  That’s how seriously they take their jobs.

And so we need to show our respect for them.  Pay them well.  Trust them to fix our educational system.  Treat them like professionals, not servants.

Because look what they do.

2.  We take our mental health as seriously as our physical health.

You wouldn’t think anything of going to the doctor for a tweaked knee, or getting a prescription for heartburn. That’s just what you do.  Getting screened for heart disease or having bloodwork done to check for diabetes is responsible.

But a mental health screening?  What, I’m not crazy!

We need to change that.  We need to look at screening for and treating mental health disorders in the same light as physical disease.  It’s not a sign of weakness.  It’s a sign of strength.  Insurance companies need to cover it, and people need to see professionals regularly.

Here’s an extremely popular blog post that’s been going around. It highlights the difficulty in getting mental health care in this country for people who need it, until it’s too late:

I am Adam Lanza’s Mother

Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

How about we all get a mental health checkup every year, just like an annual physical or dental checkup?

3.  The gun control dialogue is heard without being shouted down.

So far, every argument about gun control seems to be a choice between two extremes:

  • Take away all the guns of any kind so that the government rules us like puppets.
  • Complete, unfettered access to every kind of weaponry.

Well, that’s just stupid.  The truth is, it’s way too easy to get guns in the United States. And not just handguns, really deadly assault weapons.  I understand that people want guns, and don’t want them taken away.  But there’s a middle ground; a reasonable set of policies that allow people freedom while still keeping everyone safe.

I particularly like this OpEd from the New York Times:

Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?

IN the harrowing aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut, one thought wells in my mind: Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?

 

And that’s all I can think of doing.  Otherwise, I’ve just been cuddling my children a lot, especially my Kindergartener, and praying for those families, because I don’t know what else to do for them.

 

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3 Responses to “What I hope happens next”

  1. Diane Scholten December 16, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Extremely well thought out post, Mary. I share your point of view (albeit I am one of those who believes there is no reason for handguns either, but I could live with a start on a better gun control and no assault weapons).

    I also think that we the people need to be contacting all our representatives from President Obama on down, REGULARLY, to voice our opinions on gun control. Otherwise the NRA and gun lobbies and people who value money over life will win. Pure and simple.

    Thank you.

  2. Shari December 16, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Yes, yes and yes. Our teachers should be among the most respected members of society, they are responsible for so much more than they sign on for. And that article on mental illness, and the uphill battle these parents face, just makes me shake my head in sadness. I don’t know what the answer is. Do you mind if I share this? I think you’ve put this so well, others should read it.

    • marymascari December 16, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Thanks for the kind words. And you can definitely share it. I’d be honored.

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