Month: November 2017

Why not?

Why not?

I have hesitated to put into words the feelings I am about to share. I am about to wade into the deep end of the pool, and I know by the time I finish some of you may be ready to hold my head under until the bubbles stop. That’s OK; this is a topic that is dividing not only our country but the world. But I am going to share anyway, and I hope you take these words with the spirit intended and not as me trying to stir the pot.

Before I go any further, I am not here to start an argument about the weapon chosen to take human lives in Texas. Devin Kelley could just as easily have stolen a semi and drove it into the Sutherland Springs church killing scores of people. He could have mixed pounds of fertilizer with other chemicals and blown up the building. He could have used a large knife to kill innocent people. But he chose a gun as his weapon. And it was just that – a weapon. So this is not about the weapon but the event.

Now, attacks on innocent lives are happening with regularity around the world and many times the first question people ask is why. Now, not to be crude or uncaring, but I think the question that comes to me first is why not. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon or some doom-and-gloomer, but to me it is a miracle more things like this don’t happen. And, again, it has nothing to do with the weapon these people choose.

Here is my thought on this – people are quick to label these mass murderers or terrorists as having mental issues. Well, of course they do! You have to be a little off to willingly take countless innocent lives. I would like to think no sane person wakes up in the morning thinking acts like this are acceptable. These individuals have issues that need to be addressed, and unfortunately, they often are not.

As a society, we are failing those who need us most. Maybe it’s because we are scared to confront someone who we know needs help. Maybe we don’t know where to turn to get them help. Or maybe we just don’t want to get involved. No matter the excuse, we are failing people who need help, and too often lately these people spiral out of control and others pay the price. We need to change the way we see mental illness and do more to help those in need.

When a friend or loved one has a physical issue, we encourage him or her to seek medical help. When they are unable to do so for themselves, we call the appropriate medical authorities. Why are we not as willing to do so for those who are suffering from mental issues? When did we become so concerned about political correctness as to turn our backs on someone in desperate need?

In a world marked by hatred and division, is it any wonder that these situations happen? People who already are suffering are being bombarded with hatred and violence every time they watch the news or pick up a paper. In a fragile condition mentally already, they are moved by these images and accounts thinking that might just solve their problem. Often these individuals have lost the ability to think clearly because of whatever demons they are battling, and without help, may make deadly decisions.

I am not so naive as to think that better mental health care will solve all the world’s problems. There always will be radicals driven to violence by their beliefs or the ideology they choose to follow. But I do believe that if we can help those who desperately need it we might just be able to stop one or two of these individuals. And don’t you think the people of Texas would be much better off today if someone had helped Mr. Kelley get the help he obviously needed.

Folks, you are not being intrusive or meddlesome by trying to help someone with mental illness. You are showing them the ultimate act of love and caring by encouraging them to seek help – or in extreme cases, calling someone in authority to force them to get help. We can no longer ignore the plight of the mentally ill. We do so at our own risk, and to the risk of countless innocent people. It’s time to stop asking why these things happen and do what we can to prevent them from happening. Why not help? Why not be part of the solution? Why not?

If I only had a brain…

If I only had a brain…

As I sit here and listen to music that takes me back to a simpler time, I am asking myself – if I could go back to those days, what would I do differently? Laugh more? Love deeper? Live life more fully? What would I change if I was able to go back and do so?

While I would certainly do all of those things I have mentioned, there is one thing I am convinced I would do if I could turn back time – I would think more. Now lest you think am an idiot – and believe me, I am sure there are many people who think I am just that – it wasn’t like I didn’t think at all. I do see myself more like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz than the other characters, but I do have a brain. Trouble is I just didn’t use it enough.

Like many young people, I relied on what others were telling me rather than thinking for myself. While I do believe we need to seek out wise counsel, I’m not sure I was always hearing from wise people. What others said sounded good and many times it was easier for me to roll with what they thought than to think for myself. You see, thinking is hard work. You actually have to stop having fun and concentrate. Unfortunately for me, that was not always high on my to-do list.

Now, I don’t have anyone to blame for the poor decisions I have made in life other than myself. It was my choice to not think (or not think enough) about the choices I was making. It was my laziness that caused me to simply rely on other’s advice or follow the first thing that came to mind. I chose to dance around and sing, “If I only had a brain.” Again, like many of us, I’m not stupid – I just didn’t think about what would happen if I made certain decisions.

So, what now? All that not thinking has gotten me to where I am today – what should I do now? Simple – think more. Be more careful with my choices. Take the time necessary to analyze the major decisions of life rather than jump at the first thought. Seek “wise” counsel from people I know I can trust and who have proven themselves worthy of that trust over the years. I have to use my head for more than a hat rack if things are to change.

For some people things like laughing, loving, living carefree come easy. But thinking can be a real challenge. It’s not that they aren’t smart. It’s just they often can’t slow down from living life and take time to ponder what it is they are to do. And so, for me, I believe today I will think about thinking. Then and only then can I use the brain the good Lord gave me for more than remembering song lyrics from a day gone by.