I wake up to the news on NPR every morning. This morning it left me so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed. It’s not that the news was any worse than usual. It was the utter hopelessness of what they were saying, and not saying. After relating the statement released by Cho’s family they went on the talk to a journalist who wrote a book about his son’s mental illness, his attempts to get treatment for him; bad laws and the impossibility of getting decent help for the mentally ill under our current health insurance system.
From there they went on to a survey of the stress and suffering of Iraqi children; then the current craze among our own children for getting high on cough medicine; a push for new laws regulating the sale of the stuff to minors; the resistance of manufacturers to any kind of regulation. By the time they got to the Supreme Court decision about the latest infringement on women’s rights I couldn’t decide whether to pull the pillow over my head and stay in bed or get up and scream. But it’s the things they don’t talk about that really get to me.
First, why aren’t we talking about gun control. I understand we can’t outlaw guns. But just as we regulate the sale and use of cars, also potential weapons, we should demand that every gun owner know how to use a gun, get a license for its use and possession, and in what seems to be the only thing our society understands, require high-priced liability insurance before being able to possess a gun, paid for in cash, in advance.
Second, let’s acknowledge that we are a drug culture. If we make it tough for teens to get cough medicine, they’ll use something else. I don’t know how we can deal with this, but reining in the drug ads on TV would be a good starting point. Isn’t it time we look at why kids are doing this and what alternatives we can give them.
I can’t speak about the Iraqi children. I’ve been in despair about Iraq from the moment we began talking about going in there. I’ve also been in despair about the Bush government. I think only God can do something about them, and I don’t think He’s been heard from in at least 2000 years.
I think we could do a lot about mental illness in this country. We seem to have no will to do anything constructive about it, in part because no one’s figured out a good way to make money from it. That’s probably the biggest problem we have; everything depends on making money, not impeding a company’s ability to make money, valuing wealth above all else.
I can get pretty worked up about women’s rights, also. I’ve learned that it’s not productive to let anger rule my life. Having lived through the fifties when women were supposed to have orgasms with their vacuum cleaners and washing machines, when my career choices were teacher, secretary, social worker, nurse, if I ever unleashed my anger, I would become a screaming banshee.
I don’t want to end on this bitter note. It was really a beautiful day, warm, sunny, truly spring. I went to the CMU campus for the buggy races, walked over to the library, did other nice things. It’s almost too easy to enjoy the day, forget all the pain.
Waiting for the last race.
Buggy No. 1. The buggy, the silver thing on the left, gets pushed up the hill by a fast runner then is released to run down the hill. It’s steered by a very small person lying down inside. As it starts up the next hill another runner grabs it and pushes it up.
Buggy No. 2.