Archive for December 2012

A Land of One-Man Islands, or Shootings are a Symptom of Social Sickness

December 16, 2012

It’s a rare beautiful winter morning in Taipei, but after checking my feed, my first thought of the day is, “May God have mercy on our souls.”

The last time this happened, many people asked me what it is about America. Generalizations are never Gospel truth, but my opinion is we have a widespread Mental Health epidemic, abetted by unnatural medication and environmental and dietary contamination but ultimately caused by family and community breakdown.

I believe only a one-man island, someone without any healthy people close to him, caring for him and knowing his activities and state of mind, could do a thing like this. And almost every town in America, from Newtown, CT to Carmel, Indiana, is full of one-man islands.

Even those who never attack another person suffer alone daily. They fall and no one hears the sound.

This story, and the additional detail that Lanza’s own brother hadn’t been in contact with him since 2010, following a 2009 divorce splitting the family in half, tells the tale of Adam Lanza in very broad strokes:

“A relative told ABC News that Adam was `obviously not well.` Family friends in Newtown also described the young man as troubled and described Nancy as very rigid. `[Adam] was not connected with the other kids,` said one friend.”

Lanza’s brother called him autistic. In reality, due to the explosion of home entertainment and the Internet in recent decades, all of us are more autistic than ever. We interact with other people face-to-face less frequently, and it’s easier than ever to avoid other people for a long period of time. Independence is part of the American ethos, which is why we’ve gone this direction faster than other countries, but we’ve also seen troubled, isolated killers crop up in more communitarian societies like China and Japan.

Here’s what we can do to make things better.

1. More love, more connections, more community organizations. This is what we can all do personally, do passionately, and do right now. We should reach out especially to estranged family members and people we find disgusting or troubling and bring everyone into the fold and into positive lifestyles. We should try to ensure no one falls through the cracks.

Let’s try to be as heroic as Donnie Andrews, the original Omar, was:

2. Most people on my wall are discussing gun control. That’s fair. But prior to a total ban, I’d like to look into how these weapons are sold. The killers aren’t going to the corner store to a vendor who knows them and their families well and can use discretion; they’re buying weapons by mail from people who couldn’t care less. A criminal background check tells you much less than enough about a person.

If we want to ban assault weapons, then we also have to disarm our police departments, because they are weaponizing to a terrifying degree. Otherwise, we will make the paranoid more paranoid. Almost every country suffered a mass police or military slaughter of civilians at some point in the 20th century. People don’t buy assault rifles to blow bigger holes in burglars’ heads; they do it to head off a future 228 Incident.

3. As I alluded to earlier, America is physically contaminated, and we need to clean it up. So is the rest of the industrialized world on a lesser scale. Besides unhealthy food and water there are even clothing problems – look up “Greenpeace and Zara and Levi’s” – and ATM contamination – look up bisphenol A. I could go on forever. My parents are part of the vaccine-reform crowd; they say US vaccines are made using tissue from aborted fetuses and some kids react to that. Environmental and consumer protection should be mass movements, not niche ones.

America is also by far the most medicated place in the world. Which makes everything worse. I mentioned our prescription pill plague two weeks ago. Besides that, we’re the Ritalin generation. You must know of others who suffered from this.  When I taught in Japan, the number of students on medication for mental health issues was practically zero…and by and large the kids were doing fine.

All these chemicals and tampering are making us sick. And physical and mental health are connected.

Every generation sees evil and suffering. The proper response is not despair but positive reform. Thank you for reading, and God bless you as you move forward tomorrow.