Photography by D. Plasman
I pastored congregations for 32 years.
During that time I had innumerable conversations, cups of coffee, liters of beer, and counseling sessions with people who were clinically depressed, given to anxiety disorders, bipolar, suffering from dementia, coping with attention deficits, borderline schizophrenic, obsessive compulsive, autistic, and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. All these human conditions are considered mental health issues.
Our President and many congressional leaders have referred to the latest mass shooting as a “mental health” issue. This unmeasured and unexamined response is an insult to all who suffer from mental health issues.
Perhaps the White House should appoint a team to study mental health issues in other industrialized countries. What would such a study uncover? Three things: (1) Every industrialized country has in its citizen population those who suffer from “mental health” issues. (2) Some countries do a better or a worse job than the U.S. in treating mental health issues. (3) No other industrialized country can compete with the U.S. when it comes to mass murders and gun violence.
It’s a false correlation to identify those with mental health issues as the main reason for gun violence. Only one correlation is also a causation: Easy access to guns leads to mass murders. Some mass murderers have mental health issues, but some do not. Some are just angry and pissed off . . . at gays, at immigrants, at blacks, at losing their job or not finding one, at other students who have more friends . . .
I’m not hopeful anything will change. If the murder of 20 children between six and seven years of age in Sandy Hook did nothing to change our gun culture, why should the latest tragedy? We are all complicit.