Yup. Another Scroogy Soap Box post.
This one has been brewing in my brain since that dark, dark day in December when Adam Lanza took all those lives in Newtown, CT.
I don’t want to talk about Sandy Hook. My heart still aches for those families. I don’t want to talk about Columbine, or Aurora, or even the shooting here at Perry Hall High School.
I don’t really even want to talk about gun control this time.
What I do want to talk about is some things we need to work on, as a society, that may help prevent tragedies like those, might bolster gun control efforts…
We need to become a community again. A real one. People who participate in each others lives. People who belong. Not strangers behind closed doors blind to who lives within yards of our homes. Not friends or family members who cover their mouths or whisper in corners about the problems we see instead of doing something, anything, about them. We need to be able to reach out when we are hurting, and not fear repercussions or embarrassment.
After Sandy Hook, I read an article about a study done about these violent incidents. In the study, people who knew the shooters were interviewed and noted that these shooters had told people of their plan. Or they acted distraught. Or they became interested in violence as a solution. And when asked why these friends, family members, co-workers, or neighbors never told authorities, why they never intervened, the answer was that they worried that if they “tattled” it would ruin that person’s life.
This is more than just “if you see something, say something.” This is “if you know someone is disturbed, don’t just gossip about it, don’t just roll your eyes and ignore it. DO SOMETHING.” Or “if you need help, ASK FOR HELP.”
Look, Peeps, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I’ve turned my back on family members. Not in cold detachment, but in fear of making things worse. I’ve looked away as loved ones were hurting, unsure of how to help. I’ve talked about these problems with anyone who would listen, except of course, the people who need help or the people who could help. I’ve hidden indoors wrestling with my own life, feeling isolated and alone. Dealing with my own depression and anxiety. Unable to make friends, keep plans.
I know I’m not alone. It seems to be an epidemic in our society.
We don’t want to seem nosy. We don’t want to get in anyone’s business. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s pride or reputation. We don’t want to seem crazy or be laughed at.
Know what? BE NOSY!!! One of our neighbors has shunned us because my husband is constantly watching out for the neighborhood. He insists we keep our shades open, day or night. He always wants to see what’s going on. He’s the guy who will knock on your door and say he noticed your flat tire. He’ll make a note of strange cars on the block. He knows the faces, if not also the names, of our neighbors and their usual visitors. That neighbor I mentioned before said that he should mind his own business. Well, that’s what neighbors do. They watch out for each other. Or we should.
GET IN THEIR BUSINESS!!! If the friends of Adam Lanza’s mother, the ones who said they noticed she was stressed out about Adam, that they were concerned about him, that her gun hobby was worrisome… if those people had said something to her, to authorities, to her ex-husband/Adam’s father… all those lives would’ve been saved. But they all respected her privacy and swallowed their concerns.
FORGET REPUTATION! DO NOT BE ASHAMED! We are all human, all flawed, all dealing with one problem or another. Why is there such shame and stigma attached to asking for help? I’m guilty of this myself as well.
As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, I have finally decided to seek mental health treatment. My therapist made a note at the end of our first session that I was careful to match my outfit, down to my shoes, to look outwardly put together. I wasn’t aware of the reasons that I did this. But she was right. I wanted to project an image of a person who isn’t falling apart.
Why? I mean, I know that we have to hold our selves together to a point. We have jobs to do, kids to raise, homes to care for. But why can’t we show our cracks, be vulnerable and open?
Especially since so many others are dealing with such similar issues? We’d all be amazed if we just admitted out loud how we are feeling. So many would say “Oh My God! Me too!”
I don’t know the steps that need to be taken to change the world in this way. I only know that I am working on it on my end.
Yes, I am trying to live out loud.
For the first time ever.
Thanks for being my sounding board. You’ll never know the impact you have. Don’t forget that.