|Image description: A face with the Greek letter 'Psy' often used as a symbol for the study of Psychology' as part of the lips of the person. Underneath the drawing are the words 'psychological lips.'|
It's easy to demonize those who society once thought were possessed by demons. It's easy to blame those who are held accountable for things vastly out of their control. It's easy. It's lazy and it's dangerous.
I hear a lot these days about how we must not confuse those who commit violence with their membership in any other group. Individual responsibility does not mean group culpability. I have always gotten that, as a young gay man I dreaded news of another gay man doing anything, even parking, wrong. I knew I'd wear the crime, I'd hear talk of 'those homosexuals.' So. I get it. Don't do it.
But there is another subtle attribution that I find extremely disturbing. It's that I hear terms used about the man who shot up the gay bar in Orlando, terms thrown about in 'I'm an expert on these things' tone, even from those who's only qualification is that they have an opinion. They have 'psychological lips.' Those terms? 'Lunatic.' 'Crazy.' 'Mental.' 'Out of his mind.'
Why do people simply and automatically decide that anyone who acts on a heart full of hatred is 'disturbed?' I think the answer is simple. It's an easy, and I'll say it again, lazy explanation that makes everything better for those who say it and those who hear it. "Ah, he was just 'nuts.'" This allows them to stop thinking, the mental work has been done, the explanation has been found, now let's distract ourselves with the next bit of sensationalized news.
It might be irony, I'm never sure what that is, that during our week in the States afterwards we heard talk shows where people said , 'They got what they deserved.' and 'The only bad thing is he didn't finish the job.' and we read comments on news stories that spoke, with vitriol and hatred, about 'sodomites' and 'perverts' and 'pedophiles.' These same people with identical hatred to the shooter, with identical ideas of violence, all ended by speaking with psychological lips.
Nowhere do I hear protests about the propensity of the public to diagnose and prescribe solutions. Let's do this to those with mental health issues or concerns. Let's do that to those with mental health concerns. Let's go after the people who didn't actually do anything. More than that, let's fear those who display any kind of behaviours that makes us question their mental health, us being experts after all. Let's work on silencing all those people who do have mental health struggles. "Dave, that guy who write that blog, I hear he has trouble with depression and anxiety, best stay away from him, maybe not hire him to speak at a conference."
Let's think for a second about this idea that people who do bad things are people who are made bad by mental health struggles. Hmmmm. I grew up in a school where I was bullied and teased on a regular basis, where I had to find hiding places where no one knew where I was just for a moments respite. Hell, I get it now, every day I go out, every day I spend any time in public. Those people must all be needing a diagnosis, a whack of therapy and time locked up in a ward somewhere. I'd be walking empty streets, and schools would be out of business for lack of business. Cruelty exists separate from diagnosis.
Oh, they need education, you say.
So the two ways we explain cruelty and violent action are 'ignorance' and 'mental illness.' Um, let me tell you that the people who bully and the people who hurt others simply because they can, are not 'ignorant' of what they are doing. And the suggestion of training is blaming the victim ... 'well if you weren't so damn different we wouldn't have to train people that hitting you, hurting you and calling you names, is wrong.' Stop.
Let's consider another reason.
The heart has the capacity to love deeply, it has the capacity for passionate, passionate love. We know that.
Well, it also has the capacity to hate, to despise, to vilify, to want to annihilate others. People who are 'in need of training' or who 'need time with a therapist' don't have a greater capacity for hatred than anyone else. They simply don't.
I fear that authorities and those in the general public will be running after people with mental health concerns with 'solutions' while those who simple hate deeply, slip by. The capacity to hate is a normal human trait.
Now that hatred is going to be targeted at a group, or in this case a couple of groups of people, who simply don't deserve it. Lazy thinking will lead to social violence. Exclusion. Fear. Isolation. Things that can have impact on a person's mind, heart and soul.
Let's root out hatred.
Let's confront it.
Let's be clear that no one group, no one person, is more capable of hate than any others.
Let's look for it in ourselves.
Didn't someone once tell us to take the splinter out of your own eye first? I think that's pretty good advice.
Oh along with, shut up with the mental health reference will you?