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  1. No Words

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    By Samantha DeRose

    There are no words today that can take away the pain that we, as a nation, are feeling today.  It's going to be a while before any of us feel capable of "being funny."  It all seems so forced at the moment...

    I can't help but notice the overwhelming amount of comments all over the Internet that read "Hugs and prayers..." or similar quotes.  But you know what?  While we need hugs and prayers (not just today, but every day), it's not enough.  Krystyna hit the nail on the head with her blog yesterday.  We need to seriously implement viable mental health care for everyone, we need to CHANGE the 2nd Amendment, and we need to become a more compassionate society.  It's NOT ENOUGH JUST TO TALK ABOUT IT.

    A friend of mine posted this today:
    "We need more mental health support in all our communities. I remember reading several years ago about a mother in NJ who pleaded with a judge to commit her son. He refused, telling her she should take care of him herself. Her son subsequently murdered a child. I also remember first lady Rosalyn Carter's tireless efforts to build community mental health centers. These centers should be in every community, --fully funded by tax dollars, not having to rely only on private funds. Isn't this one major purpose of government? To help us civilize ourselves?"

    I'm tired of reading and hearing, "This wouldn't have happened if the teachers were armed."  I call BULLSHIT.  I'm a teacher.  A gun in my hands would not have prevented a tragedy like this.  The assailant's mother had obtained THREE weapons legally.  The assailant was wearing a bullet-proof vest.  That boy knew how to expertly fire those guns.  Are the "guns-in-the-hands-of-teachers" folks trying to state that with the massive budget cuts to education, they'd have the funding to pay for guns, adequate training, and bullet proof vests for every teacher in America?   Are the same folks saying it's more important to arm teachers than to deal with MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES and GUN CONTROL?  And if so, what disgusting priorities you have.  Shame on you.

    In this article, MotherJones reports that 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the last 3 decades displayed characteristics of mental health problems in this article on the Washington Post . THAT'S MORE THAN HALF... and we all know that people can be emotionally unstable but appear to be perfectly fine.  What about the quiet kids who fall by the wayside or fly under our radar...

    Adam Gopnik  writes in The New Yorker about the moral choices of those who fight, lobby, and legislate to make guns more readily available.

    NPR's Michele Martin addressed the link between Mental Health and Mass Violence with Dr. Carl Bell of The Institute for the Prevention of Violence.  This interview took place in August of 2012 and brings up several important factors... lack of empathy, the preparedness of educational institutions to deal with students suffering from severe mental illnesses, lack of connectedness or awareness,  the importance of helping mothers to establish those critical bonds with their infants, "male entitlement dysfunction" and connecting men to their softer sides.  But you know, it's much easier for people to scream about their 2nd Amendment rights than to actually implement long-term solutions.  While half the nation beats their fists against their chests, showing how tough we Americans are, people are being massacred because of that attitude.

    I have a male friend who is a teacher, author, and new dad.  He wrote that he cried yesterday, last night, and is on the verge of tears today.

    Another male friend, a comic, wrote "I look at my kid and start to tear up ... Then he does something ridiculous and I crack up - which leads to me full on crying."

    Bravo to the men who aren't afraid to A) be emotional and B) talk about it.  Check out this article that speaks directly to the importance of creating a new generation of compassionate and sensitive men.

    This brings me to another point.  We've been hearing about the teachers who helped so many kids during yesterday's event.  One teacher kept telling her children over and over, "I love you, I love you, I love you" over the sounds of the guns firing in the building.  In addition to keeping her kids safe, she had the presence of mind to consider their emotional well-being whispering those 3 words that we, as educators, are almost forbidden to say to kids nowadays.  Instead of embracing our students, telling them how wonderful they are, telling them we love them, we're putting up walls.

    I get it.  Some teachers have crossed the line, but COME ON.  Kids in school need compassion.  We simply cannot let the actions of others take away our ability to show kindness, respect, and love for our students where they need it the most... In schools!

    Someone close to me has a child in 4th grade who has recently become nervous about school related issues.  If the mom has a question for the teacher, the child has a meltdown at home because the child doesn't want to upset the teacher (who has a reputation for being volatile, brusque, and downright nasty).  During a conference, the teacher said to the mom over and over and over again, "This is 4th grade, a benchmark year.  I'm not here to coddle your child.  They've been coddled too much."  Guess what.  I'd rather have my child coddled for the duration of their education that to be beaten down.  I'm not suggesting that we don't have rules, that we enable cheating, that we dumb down the curriculum, or that we don't teach them lessons on self-discipline and perseverance.  On the contrary.  We certainly can combine compassion with high standards and expectations.

    What is this mentality that we have to toughen kids up?  Prepare them for the big, bad world through daily degradation and embarrassment?   Isn't this part of the problem?  How on earth did we get to a point in our society?  Is it that hard to teach children to stand up for themselves without resorting to belittling them?  No wonder kids are growing up with emotional problems.  I've got news for this teacher and anyone else who adopts this mentality, You are unfit to be in this profession.  And the administrators that keep you in your position are equally as unfit because they'd rather ruin kids than deal with the red tape to get rid of you.

    It's high time that adults start to change the way they treat kids in all stages of their emotional development.  Parents, teachers, health professionals, politicians... the time is NOW.

    Now that I've gone on and on, I want to add another point that I read on another friend's facebook wall.  A comedian friend pointed out the racial injustices that came to her mind in the wake of yesterday's tragedy.  She noted:
    "Let's try to find out what happened to him. What's his story. Som
    e way to spin what he did. He can't take responsibility, it had to be something else....maybe an outside source that he killed 27 PEOPLE!!!!"

    ...but the kid killed w/ Skittles in his hand and ice tea "Oh, no, he did something to deserve to be murdered. He looked menacing with his hoodie and black skin"

    She was criticized for making this into a racial issue.  Make no mistake.  She was utterly devastated for the victims of the shooting.  But you know what?  She's right.  The media certainly does spin coverage of crimes involving shootings based on skin color.   When I respectfully defended her right to speak her mind, the person criticizing her wrote:
    "OOOOOO,here comes white,guilt-ridden Samantha to help her poor,defenseless black friend(who she secretly looks down on & wouldn't introduce her family to)."
    This person clearly does not know me very well.  The same person also accused me of being a typical Nazi liberal and called me a "DUMMY."  Don't get me started on how I feel about social media ruining us as a society.  People have become way too comfortable with name calling and spreading hatred cloaked by the anonymity of their computer screens.

    And one last comment on the media.  We now, once again, have network media on every channel exploiting a grief-stricken community, with millions of viewers gawking, trying to get glimpse of someone else's tragedy.  They'll play the must gut-wrenching intros to their big stories... they'll tout their networks as having the best coverage,  "As tragedy strikes, ABC is right here by your side."  And what is wrong with "we the people" who sit and watch?  Coverage of a press conference, I can understand, but sticking cameras in the faces of these poor people is unethical and disgraceful.  Out of respect for the victims and their families, stop gawking.  Don't let the media use these folks for ratings.

    Yes, people, go and hug your kids.  Teachers, tell your students how much you love them.  Commit random acts of kindness because so many people are in need a gentle word, but PLEASE, PLEASE, don't stop there.  It's not enough.  Contact your representatives and voice your opinions:

  2. 2 comments:

    1. Samantha, I'm glad you are a teacher.

    2. Anonymous said...

      Great points made, thank you Samantha. Excellent read.

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