Shawn Maxam on why the Aurora, Colorado shooting shows how we continue to fail individuals living with mental illnesses.
To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.
I am not a huge fan of reacting to recent news events especially tragedies like what occurred in Aurora, Colorado. We attempt to explain why such things happen even when we aren’t fully informed. I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know who the alleged shooter was so like most people I will just fill in the blanks to tell the story that makes the most sense to me. I can admit my bias.
Regardless of any of our biases or political agendas we can all admit how sad of situation this shooting is. Anything beyond that is guesswork at best.
All I will say is that we should never jump to absolutes. It’s lazy and does a disservice to all of us when we use shortcuts like pure evil and sociopath. When we dehumanize individuals like alleged shooter James Holmes it allows us to not have to examine our own humanity. We can distance ourselves from “this sick person”. Not ever acknowledging that “these sick people” who commit heinous acts are our brothers, fathers, uncles, mothers, sisters, wives and husbands.
The truth is we can’t expect “the sick” which is to say people who probably have and live with severe mental illnesses to get better if we (all of us) don’t do better.
UPDATE: I think the National Alliance on Mental Illness has released the most measured statement about the tragedy and possible connections to mental illness that I have seen. Read it by clicking here.
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Flickr image via JenXer