Monday, December 24, 2012

…anything but fine

Often times when I’m about three-quarters through my cool down after a long run I am most at peace with myself and my environment.  My mind is clear, my body is strong yet relaxed and I haven’t answered a call or an e-mail in an hour.  I feel recharged, self-assured, confident, and newly ready to focus and take on constructive challenges.  

It’s therapeutic for me and I’m thankful for those times. 

There are other times when I’m not confident and not relaxed.  I don’t like being tossed in with crowds of people and lots of chatter.  I become unfocused and uneasy.  Perhaps it has something to do with having grown up in a large and loud family.  In any case I accept my shortcoming and am grateful for my awareness.  

I also don’t like when the world around me is spiraling downward.  I can only detach so far.  Major events in society affect me because I’m not good at putting up walls and I don’t see the point in assuming things will get better.  Some things get worse before they get better.  

Since the nightmarish massacre in Newtown, Ct. almost ten days ago much has been said.  We hear the daily talking points about mental health, personality disorders, autism and Asperger’s syndrome in the media.  We are provided this information in a manner similar to getting our Dow Jones Stock Index report as if it credibly explains what’s really going on in the financial world.

We hear about allowing teachers to carry guns in school verse gun control laws needing to be tightened and all the while knowing the ideologies have been clashing and at odds for years.

We hear people speak.   We have heard President Obama speak and seen him cry.  We’ve heard from Governor’s, Senator’s, Congressional leaders and Mayor’s.  We’ve read editorials, seen guest psychologists and priests.  And we’ve heard from the N.R.A., courtesy of Wayne LaPierre.

Fingers are pointed.  One group blames another.  News anchors may call invited experts ‘stupid’.  Self appointed experts may polish up their retorts and call another host ‘obtuse’. 

Perhaps the silver lining is that the horrific events that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary have made it clear to nearly everyone that big changes are needed.  However, I’m less sure that nearly everyone realizes that working together provides for a greater probability of success than working separately.  

There is no single answer to thwarting or preventing a crazed gunman’s delusional carnage whether in a school, in a movie theater or at a shopping mall.

Prevention is not singularly about mental health.  It’s not singularly about gun control.  It’s not singularly about violent video games.  It’s not singularly about security.  It’s about all that and more.

And where do our rights fit into the puzzle? Of course we all have rights under the constitution and rights to our own opinions as well.  The tricky part is working together so that everyone’s rights are in harmony.  Giving and receiving, strangely novel concepts, may be worthy of further exploration.

Gun control is vital and I hope it materializes.  Maybe the N.R.A. will one day move away from its worn adage that ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’.  The mom (Nancy Lanza) was their good guy.  The son (Adam Lanza) was their bad guy.  If the ‘good guy’ didn’t have a semi-automatic assault weapon capable of rapidly shooting hundreds of rounds and inflicting maximum bloodshed that would ultimately fall into the hands of a ‘bad guy’ living under the same roof, the Sandy Hook atrocity may never have happened.

Let’s not kid ourselves though about getting to work on the needed mental health reforms, developing real awareness and bringing forth meaningful results.  This will take much time.  It won’t get better overnight.  In the short term, having police in our schools may not be such a bad idea.  Certainly no prevention methods are perfect.  But we do need the police involved to figure out what more can be done on the security front.  Doing nothing more on security seems foolish.  Certainly I wouldn’t want mere armed security guards.  They lack the training and supervision of active duty police. And I think arming teachers and principals on such a large scale would be a step, two or three backwards.

At the moment, the carols are fully piped into our surroundings.  Reindeer antlers pass on the left as they protrude from SUV side windows.  The festive meals and pies are being prepared.  The liquor has been delivered.  Someone in each town is waiting to win the holiday light show contest.  

The guns, high powered rifles and ammunition sales are soaring.  

Twenty first-graders have just been laid to rest.  And several wonderful teachers and staff will no longer be sharing hugs with their loved ones anymore either.   

Merry is out of step.  I all but exclusively use the word ‘holiday’ as I feel the best messages of the season grow more and more fleeting, even among folks with religious connectivity. 

Maybe next year will be different.  When trying to get somewhere new, having clarity on the current position is helpful.

The starting point at present is a society that is anything but fine and the most appropriate gift under everyone’s tree would be 52 weeks of psychotherapy.  Anyone who’s been lighting more than seven strands of blinkers from their home this past week may want to double down and splurge on 104. 

Or, an alternate plan could involve boosting the sale of sleep aids in the hope and quest for visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads.

© 2012 Christopher’s Views.


  1. Actually, connecting with a sane person like you is therapeutic! Thanks-

    Friendly Aloha from Waikiki,
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° >
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  2. This is beautifully said!

  3. i feel you man...i have disconnected from the larger world this week...gone small, at least to my community a smaller circle i can affect this season with love and light...this christmas has a shadow, but i wont let it take the joy...

  4. I've stopped wishing people a Merry Christmas, and am instead going for wishes of peace. It just seems more fitting, both on a personal and a global level.

    (But I kind of like the idea of giving people therapy for a year!)

  5. Very well expressed, Christopher. It's been such a difficult season to reconcile in any way.

  6. Thank you for trying to think through the unthinkable. Working together, truly, is the only way we can effect change.

    I know I just can't stop crying any time I hear or read anything about this tragedy. In fact, I had to close a magazine while doing my own long run--on a treadmill at the Y--today, simply because I realized I was crying as I was running.

  7. We live in strange times Christopher. If you can keep an overriding sense of humour you'll be fine; that and, each night just as your head hits the pillpw, thinking of three good things that happened to you that day.

  8. Maybe just maybe, this will be the time.
    Would love that.
    Happy New Year !