No Fluff Today

This morning’s news is focused on the shootings in Omaha.  Reportedly, a troubled 19 year old carried an assault rifle into a mall store and shot at people, killing at least eight and wounding more, then killed himself. I am saddened by the regularity with which similar events occur.  This kind of mass assault by an individual has become a hallmark of our time.  Smarter people than me are looking at these events and trying to understand why they occur and how they can be prevented, but this morning a few things come to mind in my own examination of our times. 

First, I am tired of hearing that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  Clearly our society doesn’t have the maturity or judgment to handle such free access to lethal weapons.  We won’t design or adopt a system that can differentiate between people who will safely and legitimately use firearms and people who will take advantage of that access to perform the most damaging acts on society.

Secondly, mental health issues are some of the most pressing health problems in our society, and we do not have a cohesive, scientifically based approach to them.  There are so many obstacles to successfully receiving the care that is needed.  Bebe Moore Campbell was an advocate for those with mental health disorders.  Her clearest message was that this is illness, not sorcery, not bad genes, not lack of will power.  Two days ago I ordered her novel “72 Hour Hold” (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=72+hour+hold&z=y&r=1), about a mother trying to deal with a bipolar child.  I have many personal threads relating to mood disorders.  I’m sure they’ll come into our discussion in the future.   

Third, we are losing our children.  In some instances, we are throwing them away.  Our society has not made enough paths for the child who is different, challenged, disabled, or disinclined to stay on the traditional path.  Moreover, we have made that traditional path a tremendous obstacle course, fraught with stress and pressure and deadlines and expectations that are daunting for the most capable child.  Yesterday I visited with my creative friend on the mountain.  She is raising two extraordinary children.  They are 7 and 15 and they know how to entertain themselves.  They can occupy time crafting the most imaginative projects!  They draw and build and invent without worry that their creations will be judged.  They speak intelligently about the world and have no fear of their ideas being ridiculed.  During our visit, we spent time gleefully pulling handfuls of mosaic tiles out of a huge jar and arranging them on the coffee table, exclaiming about the beauty of some,laughing at the 7 year-old’s  determination to get a particular tile from the very bottom of the jar, discussing the ways of getting particular effects on homemade tiles…All the while, reruns of “Project Runway” were playing and we were critiquing fashion designs and cracking up at the antics of various characters.  At the end of the day, my friend told me that her major focus these days is promoting creativity.  I think that could be one antidote to our inept molding of our children. 

The violence in this society is daunting.  It is ever present, nauseating, consuming, distracting, frightening, life changing.  My morning email brought an interesting and welcome discussion of the relationship of the typical American diet to violence and mood disorders and attention deficit disorder.  As a physician, I don’t easily recommend sources of medical information.  They must pass the test of being clearly written, factually correct and scientifically tested and documented.  By far and away my favorite site is http://www.drweil.com/, from the noted Dr. Andrew Weil of the Integrative Medicine Program at University of Arizona.  Under the title “Eat Fat, Get Nutrients, Be Happy” (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/WBL02065/Eat-Fat-Get-Nutrients-Be-Happy.html   and then hang in there and follow the link in the article to the related piece on good fats) he makes the case for lack of omega-3 fatty acids in our diet causing widespread health and societal problems.  Sometimes answers are complex.  Sometimes they are simple.  This is worth reading. 

In spite of the horrifying news stories, yesterday ended beautifully.  My friend is all about taking care of the people in her space.  Sometimes she does it with a cup of eggnog coffee, sometimes she metes out a punch on the arm to bring you back to your senses.  The love between our families is palpable.  Her youngest child once told his preschool teacher that he had six people in his family-his mom and dad, his sister, and “Dr. Essie” and Dayna.  Thank God for these attachments and the warm, nurturing coccoon of our homemade families.

Peace, people.  I’m going to make a cup of coffee and knit.

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