Society's problems -- however unspeakable -- also are solvable

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“We lost a lot of babies.”

“We are experiencing a bone-chilling sadness.”

“I’m heartbroken ... terrible and horrific.”

These are words spoken and felt from people all over the world on the tragedy that took place in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14.

“Unspeakable” is a word that captures the image of 20 families having to spend the week before Christmas shopping for caskets for their babies – and six more families planning funerals for their adult wife, daughter, sister or aunt. Unspeakable!

THE MAINSTREAM media didn’t waste any time putting possible blame on either gun control or mental illness. Those discussions may or may not resurface to the point that our political leaders have the will to actually do something about it. I think it’s safe to say the highly controversial gun control issue is back on the front burner. What the results will be is yet to be seen.

It’s troubling to me that we, as a country, seem to be more reactive vs. proactive. Major calamities happen in cities all over the United States – almost daily.

In the past four years, other mass-murder incidents have taken place by men 30 years old and younger. The questions posed, after the fact, reveal troubling histories of these people that span a period of years, some as early as their adolescent years. We already are beginning to hear that this man’s parents struggled with his “difficulties.”

Why are we always playing catch-up? Why is it that people crying out for help, for years, never get it until something horrible happens? It’s a cycle we hear over and over again, and the questions never get answered.

The more recent tragedy is definitely unspeakable and heartbreaking, and has resonated among millions all over the world – I believe because of the large number of babies murdered at the same time. It’s horrifying, to say the least.

But consider this report from the Children’s Defense Fund: In 2008 and 2009, 5,740 children – “one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years” – were killed by guns. In 2008, 408 of them were younger than age 15; 148 were younger than 10.

One year later, 354 under 15 and 151 under 10 were killed by gunfire. A total of 34,387 children were wounded by guns in those two years. Now that is unspeakable. But are the mainstream media talking about this?

The so-called fiscal cliff has been a train wreck waiting to happen for many years. And now our top political leaders are scrambling to meet a deadline with a compromise they both can live with. Once again, reactive vs. proactive.

TOO OFTEN, people look to their leaders for validation, acceptance and the go-ahead to do something meaningful and significant in terms of helping to resolve some of our societal problems.

I would like to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, make a decision to be a part of the solution on an unspeakable issue. There are many unspeakable issues you can wrap your heart and soul around, you know? We can no longer wait for our political leaders to solve the world’s problems. I think we already know their track record.

A New Year is almost upon us, and some of you will make New Year’s resolutions. I won’t suggest you do that. I would say, why not make a commitment? Write it down, and tell a trustworthy friend or family member about that commitment and then stick to it. No longer can we wait for our neighbor to do something about the problems we face. We must take action ourselves.

School parent-teacher association meetings desperately need parents to attend and get involved. Organizations that serve youths need more volunteers. Young black boys, in particular, need black adult positive male role models and mentors. Young girls need more positive women role models and mentors. Intergenerational efforts are needed because our youth are so out of touch with their history.

Our juvenile court judges need pastors, ministers and community leaders to serve as surrogates to troubled youth who do not have a mother and/or father at home. They also need churches and faith-based organizations to provide more community-oriented intervention programs they can refer these young people to.

These are the unspeakable issues that are solvable if we are proactive. If none of these suggestions compel you to do something, then prepare your own list. Certainly there are hundreds of other social concerns that you would be willing to put your
heart and soul into to help make a difference. That is my challenge to you.

IN SPITE OF the unspeakable horror that took place on that Friday morning, I am optimistic about the future because I believe in the hearts of people. There is no doubt: Evil lurks around us, and may be as close as your shadow, but love always will overcome evil. Only God can give us the hope we need to get through challenging times.

New legislation or political commentaries will not bring the peace we desperately need in the face of evil. I find comfort in Psalm 146:5. I bet you have a special verse or message that you find comfort in too. Have a merry Christmas!

(The writer is a radio talk show host, author, life coach and mental health advocate in Augusta.)

Comments (13) Add comment
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seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/23/12 - 06:24 am
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Very good letter..

At least you speak the truth....with this..

Organizations that serve youths need more volunteers. Young black boys, in particular, need black adult positive male role models and mentors. Young girls need more positive women role models and mentors. Intergenerational efforts are needed because our youth are so out of touch with their history.

Thank you

myfather15
54961
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myfather15 12/23/12 - 07:45 am
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Not a bad article, but as

Not a bad article, but as with most I've seen, it offers options but nothing specific to address or correct the problems. All I hear from policitcians and psychologist's alike are "We need to have a conversation about this or that." Or "We need to change the way we address mental health issues" or "We've got to take our heads out of the sand and do something postitive to make our children more safe". But I haven't heard a single thing, even in this article that specifically address what we can do. We can "talk" or "converse" about an issue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it won't get you anywhere if options that don't really address the problem is all you get.

All you hear from the left is gun control, gun control!! All we here from the mental health community is "We need to change our laws on dealing with mental health issues". But both these issues basically boil down to Constitutional Rights and can we adjust them for the sake of "Safety".

As a person who constantly deals with people with various mental health issues, I know how hard the problem is. They also have constitutional rights. Most have not committed violent crime and therefore we are limited to how long we can commit them. For example; We often get calls from citizens of a person who walks up and down the street, reading the Bible and yelling out scripture. His family has signed commital papers several times through probate court, and had him committed several times. When we went to pick him up, he would resist but it would be slight resistance. He was claim to be Jesus Christ, in His second coming, here to save the world of their sins. Now, it's clear this man is mentally ill and in need of help. The family is at their last straw and have expressed this to us many times. They just don't know what to do with.

This is NOT as easy as some may think. This man, to my knowledge has NOT been violent as of yet. They've treated him a Georgia Regional and other facilities numerous times and released him shortly thereafter. But how long can you involuntarily commit a person who has committed no violent crimes or any crimes for that matter? The facilities don't have the room to house all these people first off, and if they did, should they? We aren't supernatural, with the ability to read peoples minds. We can't say whether they are ever going to harm someone or not. So, do we have the right to take THEIR rights away? In comparison to how many mentally ill people there are in the world, how many actually end up shooting people? It's very low, I can tell you that. So, do we still lock them up for unlimited amounts of time, because WE FEAR what they MIGHT do? I don't have the answer, but there are a lot of questions. We would have to radically change the Constitution in order to address this issue, the way the psychologists would want.

Ben Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/23/12 - 08:31 am
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Myfather15, good question.

Myfather15, good question. Okay, I'm not saying this is the only thing, but I believe it's a start. Stop any government program that encourages dependence on government. Ambition to improve one's lot is important and that creates a desire to behave in ways those in positions of authority appreciate. When needs are minimally met by the government by having children out of wedlock or not working, dependence occurs, but, more impotantly, an irresponsbile lifestyle is encourage with resultant bad behavior. You can also apply these same principles to families that harbor young adults who won't conform to being productive members of society. Next?

myfather15
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myfather15 12/23/12 - 08:48 am
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I know this is long, but might we worth a read...

The other issue being debated on this topic is gun control. This is also a Constitutional Rights debate and the only topic we can discuss is whether the government can limit those rights, even more.

After Wayne Lapierre made his statement the other day, he was attacked viciously by the left. Mr. Lapierre stated we need at least one armed police officer in EVERY school in America. Now, I disagree with this simply because ONE wouldn't do it. One officer would probably just be the first victim, if that officer didn't know the shooter was coming, which is impossible unless you can read minds. Then the shooter would be free to continue his rampage. It would take several to properly protect the schools and this would be extremely expensive for a Country already 16 trillion in debt.

Now, many leftist are saying having an armed police officer in schools would result in an O.K. Coral type shootout, occurring in our schools. They say this is NOT what we need and would only endanger more children. Would endanger more children in schools, really? Is there anyone who uses common sense, who believes this rhetoric? Well, let’s take that comparison and look at it a little more in depth. Keep in mind while we are thinking about this, we are discussing an ACTIVE SHOOTER, not a hostage situation!!

Their comparison is ridiculous at best and dangerous at worst. Having ZERO armed police officers in the school would be like the O.K. Coral having occurred but with Wyatt Earp, his brothers and Doc Holliday having NO GUNS. It would have been a ONE SIDED massacre, period!! I know, people without logic would say if Earp and his side wouldn’t have had firearms, the shootout might not have happened in the first place. That’s assuming a lot, seeing as bad people have always existed and those children in Sandy Hook didn’t have firearms.

Police train completely different for ACTIVE SHOOTERS than they do for hostage situations. So keep in mind, we are NOT talking about a hostage situation, we are talking about an ACTIVE SHOOTER already in the school. So, you’ve already got the O.K. Coral shootout, with bullets flying all over the place, striking innocent victims. The only difference is, we who believe in armed citizens, would like for some of those bullets to be traveling towards the lunatic shooting at children. If the left has their way, the children and teachers will continue to be the only ones hiding from bullets. So, you already have the SHOOTOUT the left wants to avoid, but it’s just a one sided massacre. So, would you rather have a shootout at the O.K. Coral or a one sided massacre with a crazed shooter methodically shooting innocent children and unarmed, unprotected adults? Seems the answer would be simple. The crazed shooters pick defenseless targets such as schools, movie theatres, malls, etc. The shooters don’t want to confront ARMED and trained law enforcement or private citizens. So yes, I believe if we had 3 armed law enforcement officers in each school, it would absolutely PREVENT most shootings at schools. The shooter would probably just choose a different, easier and more defenseless target. But, I’m not sure this is practical because of expense.

Also, for example; let’s say we already have an ACTIVE SHOOTER, inside a school assassinating children and teachers. Let’s say this lunatic decides NOT to shoot himself as the police arrive. The police storm in and there you have it, the shootout at the O.K. Coral. The only difference is, that before this O.K. Coral shootout, the lunatic got to shoot numerous unarmed victims, THEN has a shootout with police. So the shootout is going to happen regardless, the only question is WHEN and if it happens before he can methodically shoot innocent victims. Does this make sense to anyone?

Now, in closing; I realize the leftist would say “If we don’t have guns in Citizens hands, we don’t have to worry about any of this.” I would agree with you, but your dream of living without firearms is IMPOSSIBLE!! It can’t happen when there are approximately 300 million guns in the USA. It would be like the environmentalists saying we need to get rid of all vehicles because we are going to destroy the world. IT WON’T HAPPEN. Until we understand that FIREARMS were invented and we will have to live with them the rest of our existence, we are living in a dream world. We must accept this and work towards something that is actually obtainable. Living in a world where private citizens AREN’T armed, isn’t just unrealistic, it’s impossible.

myfather15
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myfather15 12/23/12 - 08:44 am
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@Riverman

I also like your ideas but I don't see how they apply to mentally ill individuals. A person with serious mental illness, isn't at all concerned with "Ambition to improve ones lot". Now, you and I are very concern about that, it just doesn't cover the entire lot. We can't understand the mindset of these seriously ill people because WE AREN'T. Its a very complicated issue, even for the mental health professionals. They DO NOT have the answer either. They actually CAN'T have the answer because they can't read minds either.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/23/12 - 09:13 am
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I believe substance abuse can

I believe substance abuse can lead to mental illness and some of the substance abuse can be prevented by ambition and hard work. But specifically, I would institutionalize, at least temporarily, many more mental patients than is currently done.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/23/12 - 09:20 am
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Gracewood School --Institution

Gracewood was a needed & much used facilty......but we know how "new' thinking said we need to put them back in the general population......that isn't working & has left many homeless & desperate.....that plan also reminds me of the section 8 plan....another "new" thinking option that isn't working.....we need to forget pc thinking & put our foot down to crazy thinking..imo

myfather15
54961
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myfather15 12/23/12 - 12:10 pm
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"But specifically, I would

"But specifically, I would institutionalize, at least temporarily, many more mental patients than is currently done."

What exactly would you institutionalize them for? What type of behavior would you declare as meeting the standard for involuntary institutionalization? Remember, these people have rights as well, as long as they haven't committed a violent crime. And they will have some rights afterwards, but we are talking about before the violent crime.

I've dealt with numerous different types of mentally ill. Some are simply suicidal and only want to end their own lives. Some are homicidal and want to kill others. Some hallucinate, whether it be from a disorder in their brain or from drugs. Some, as I've given an example, have illusions of themselves being Jesus Christ or some other historical figure. Is it illegal to claim yourself to be the Christ? Not the last time I checked. Is it a sign of mental illness? I would certainly believe so, but then the question is; What can you do with them? Can you involuntarily commit them, and if so; For how long?

What if they know the system and the "Right words to say" after they've been committed? They stop saying their Christ while commited then they release them. After getting out they go right back to the strange behavior, then what happens? Do we recommit them against their will? Keep in mind, the people we are talking about have committed no crimes. They haven't harm a single person and we don't know for sure they ever will.

Also, if we start institutionalizing everyone who acts a little weird or out of the "Norm"; then we better build some much bigger facilities and hire a lot more pyschologists, because they are going to be filled up all the time. Georgia Regional is full occupancy quite a bit as it is. We are constantly having to take local patients all throughout Georgia because the local mental health receiving facilities are max capacity. We sometimes have to drive 4 hours away just to take a patient to a facility that will accept them. Most people don't realize its the Sheriff's Office that is responsible for the transport of mental patients to the receiving facilities. We get to see the problem up close and personal, all the time.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 12/23/12 - 12:29 pm
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Helen

Please run for Mayor again!!

Armed guards at schools? Nah. The best way to avoid roaches is to not let them in to begin with.

At every national and international office my former employer had, there was a lobby that you could not get past without a keycard. I'm sure that is the case with most big corps these days.

Why can't we do the same at schools? When children are unloading from busses, the door is held open to get inside the main building to the classrooms. They stay inside the secure area until it is time to go home.

Only school staff have the key cards, and any student exiting the secure area has to be escorted back in.

Virtually all schools could be retrofitted with a couple of partition walls and the electronic locking system. Pretty cheap insurance if you ask me, and not a solution that some parents would resist like they would someone having a gun on the premises.

If you want to extend that security a bit more, put an electronic lock on every classroom. You don't get in without a pass key or someone on the inside opening the door.

myfather15
54961
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myfather15 12/23/12 - 04:17 pm
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@itsanotherday1

Yes, your ideas would work perfectly and sound reasonable.......but wait. You obviously haven't been paying attention to the developments from Sandy Hook. The shooter gain entry by SHOOTING his way in. He shot the doors and glass and forced his way in. So much for your keycard, pass key, etc. Powerful firearm usually=Universal Master key. It may seem blunt, but it's the plain truth. There would only be one way to ensure shootings would NEVER happen but it's impossible. That would be to eliminate all firearms from existence, which is impossible. The only other option to seriously reduce the chances of it happening again is to have armed security, which would be extremely expensive or arm willing teachers or principals. Thats the bottom line!!

allhans
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allhans 12/23/12 - 07:41 pm
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It was said that placing

It was said on a news talk show that placing armed guards at schools would be a bad thing...the person who made the remark has body guards, I wonder if they are unarmed.

missaugusta07
9
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missaugusta07 12/24/12 - 10:11 am
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RMSHEFF
15901
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RMSHEFF 12/24/12 - 10:52 am
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Solutions?

Many will view my statement as crazy but that as never stopped me before so here it is. The root problem is the sin nature we all have and the only solution to sin is Christ. Matthew 5:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Some allow themselves to be used by satin such as the event in Newtown. Imagine the decree of Herod when he ordered the killing of all male children under the age of 2. Cain slew Able his own brother. Here in America there are 1100 abortions each day.

The reaction is understandable. We have a desire to assign blame anytime something like this happens and it is human to try to fix what is broken. The search is on for something that will prevent the next act of evil. Timothy McVey killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. They restricted the amount of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) anyone could purchase to 300 lbs.

We should do all we can "within reason" to prevent these kind of attacks however there is always a desire to take action even if the actions will do nothing that will help. In a free society there are endless opportunities to do evil deeds and plenty of evil people to do them. My fear is that anytime politicians get involved they will find a so called solution and the only actual effect will be to restrict our liberty.

fedex227
11179
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fedex227 12/29/12 - 10:25 pm
1
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I agree with the letter writer, 20 children would be ...
Unpublished

alive today if those children were properly trained and armed with the tools necessary to defend themselves in our society. Were they not hampered by the stringent regulations enforced upon a citizenry constitutionally endowed with the right to bear arms, they would be alive today. The time to be proactive is now. One principal? Several teachers? Please. In the proper hands, a gun is no more than a tool. Let us put these tools in the hands of those most vulnerable.

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