I open my Facebook feed to read about yet another mass shooting; at a bar in Thousand Oaks California. My body feels numb. It is as if I feel nothing. But the truth is I feel something.
I actually feel everything! I feel sadness. I feel fear. Most of all I fear anger!
How long, oh Lord?!?!
The truth is that I don’t think I will ever become numb to this horrible news when it flashes across our tv screens. I am still the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. And my blood just starts to boil when reporters and everyone else seems to play the blame game. My mom is one of the kindest, most caring, faith-filled woman. She has never let her illness get in the way of her faith. In fact, I know she would give the shirt off of her back to someone in need.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still believe we have work to do. We need to continue to work on breaking the stigma of mental illness. Yet from my own experience with our family, I know that the proper treatment can be found. In fact, the reality is that those with mental illnesses are more LIKELY to be the victims of a crime than to be the victimizers.
So why? Why is mental illness the scapegoat? Why don’t we look at the other issues that come with these situations? How did the shooter get a hold of a gun in the first place? I don’t have any answers. In all actuality, I am filled with more questions than answers.
I grew up in a home where my dad, grandpa and others hunted. Yet the guns were locked up. And if they were out, my sister and I got gun safety lessons. There was no way our dad was going to let us use them unless we knew the consequences of how they were used. And I know there are others who have grown up with guns in their homes too.
Yet we have a problem, friends! There have been too many mass shootings; too many school shootings. Too many parents who have sent their kids to school where they believed them to be safe. Only to have them find out that the school was not safe. It breaks my heart and I fear for my sister, all other teachers, and their students ever day when they go to school.
I am angry….angry that school is not a safe place. Angry that mental illness is often automatically the reason attached to why a shooting happened in the first place. Angry that so many have lost their lives. Angry that it continues to keep happening. And as it keeps happening, my blood continues to boil. Yet I want and know we can do better!
I am still the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. I have learned the power in sharing our story to help break the stigma. Yet when there is another school/mass shooting, it doesn’t seem nearly enough. And so I simply cry out “kyrie eliason, Lord have mercy” while simultaenously crying out “How long, oh Lord, how long?”
Lord, have mercy!