Today’s entry is a mix of social commentary on a few things. It is in some ways about how mentally ill people are seen by and treated by society in a larger context, but it’s about people that don’t suffer from mental illness as well. These are merely my observations. I may be completely off in my viewpoints, but this is where I’ve arrived at with things at this point in my life.
I’m often puzzled at hypocrisy. There’s overt and willful/knowing hypocrisy such as that by politicians and lawmakers, but there’s also the more subtle everyday hypocrisy that all of us have in the way we conduct ourselves to some degree. I think a lot of it goes back to stereotyping or generalizing. I realize the irony in my saying this as I’m making sweeping generalizations about people in general. I think in most cases when one passes judgement on another it’s often misguided. How many times have you felt misunderstood in your own life? How many times have you been judged unfairly? How many times do you believe others would feel differently if only they knew you better or had a more clear picture of a situation? I make great effort to not pass judgement on people. Everyone has their reasons for doing things. Sometimes they are bad reasons, misguided reasons or simply for reasons even they can’t quite comprehend. My line for passing judgement is when others try to oppress others from having basic human rights or try to force ideology on others. The two often run hand-in-hand.
I’ve been pretty disturbed in recent years at how willfully ignorant and intolerant some people are.. A lot of people, actually. I say willful ignorance because in this country and all wealthy countries, access to information is everywhere. Even if you’re somehow missed by the formal education system you can still go to a library which is free and read. You can expand your mind and your thinking at will. Ignorance and hate has no place here unless it’s willful. Some people are deserving of hate. I’m not going to say that things are purely black and white when it comes to hate. Murderers, rapists and child molesters aren’t undeserving of hate. I think with some things the line needs to be drawn and upheld. I think that when a large group of people is denied equal or even basic human rights, we’ve failed as a society. I look at how women, gay people and those of Arab descent are treated and in many ways, overt or not, persecuted and I’m outraged. I know gay people. They are the same as the rest of us, The same goes for Arabs. It shouldn’t need to be said that women should be treated equal in this country, but there are some that wish to strip away the ground that has been gained on women’s rights. People with mental illness are also often misunderstood, mistreated and stigmatized. Until last year I hadn’t had to face stigma in my own life at all. Because of my mental illness no longer being kept a secret, I’m stigmatized or feared by some family members and by those that I’ve known for years. I’ve made attempts to just have a conversation about what I’m going through on a personal level, but because that struggle that so many have seen over the years now has a name, that willingness to be understanding seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way. The short-sightedness of some is astounding. People I’ve known for years and have respected have recently spewed forth astounding ignorance as it related to mental health, civil rights for women and gay people and even people of Arab descent. Reasonable people. People that are well educated. Where does this blind hate come from? I just don’t get it. My viewpoints are pretty simplistic. If you disagree with something, simply don’t do it. Don’t want abortions and feel strongly about it, even in the case of rape or incest? Don’t have an abortion no matter what happens in your own life. Don’t want gay people to marry? You’ve nothing to worry about – let others to do what’s as equally natural for them as it is for you in your own life. Don’t want women to have reasonable access to birth control? Think of every time you wore a condom or pulled out in time without enough of your love-potion staying to get the job done. Also, don’t use pills to get hard – that’s not natural either. Don’t want your children to be taught evolution in schools? Put your money where your moth is and send them to a private school of the ideology you subscribe to. Don’t want Muslims to have a mosque in your neighborhood? Pray about it in one of the many churches around you while defending your right to practice your freedom of religion or to keep a wide selection of semi-automatic weapons.
The recent mass-shootings have started a lot of monologues about mental health in this country. I say monologues, because I’ve yet to hear anyone wanting to speak other than to wait for their turn to talk – anything but have an actual discussion. I’m not minimizing the horror of any of the mass-shootings in any way when I say this, but with 300,000,000+ people in this country, the shootings are a statistical anomaly. There’s no amount of mental health care reform that could have prevented these shootings from happening. If not by the ones that did it, but by others at some point. Alcohol and cigarettes kill scores of people every year. They are completely legal and unregulated for those purchasing either or both. As for gun control. I have a gun. I’m mentally ill. I used to have several guns for target shooting – it was a hobby. I was moving to a state that banned one of those particular guns, so I gave it to a dear friend who happens to be free of any major mental illness. I didn’t need it. The one in the house now is a small rifle I’ve had since I was a child. I keep it for home defense in the extremely unlikely and frankly improbable event that someone breaks in while my wife and I are home, or if she’s home alone. It’s semi-automatic and a .22 caliber. Anything more than that or a shotgun if you’re particularly paranoid simply isn’t necessary. The ignorance about guns themselves that both sides of the issue are spewing out is appalling. These are people wanting to make policy? The most rabidly outspoken gun proponents talk about the “crazies” and the same government that they claim to need defending against to protect their rights to hold their guns so that if that same government ever gets past their comfort zone that they can spearhead some revolution. I’m mentally ill. I have Bipolar disorder and suffer from PTSD. I’ve been hospitalized once for depression. I’ll likely not be able to obtain a firearm legally from this point forward because of those things. But I’m not on television telling everyone about my wet-dream of shooting hordes of government agents storming my lawn to come take away my guns and freedom. Who’s more dangerous – me, or the one that really believes that? I will admit, I am paranoid about people with guns, but not of the government, or mentally ill people like myself, it’s of these nut jobs.