I hate to say it–I really do–but we are an insane society. Trump, yes, certainly. Bannon, Rudy, McConnell, Trump Jr., McCarthy, DeSantis, Greene, Gaetz–all the Trump sycophants, sure, all of them. The Trump MAGA crowd, yep. The NRA, Oh yes. But many of the liberal Dems too: the ones sitting on their bums numbingly scrolling through FB or Instagram or Twitter or TikTok or YouTube or worse, mesmerized, drugged, burned out, unaware of the passage of time, bypassing posts calling their attention to a country in need of political and social surgery, instead spending inordinate amounts of time “liking” whatever titillates their momentary interest. What’s not to like, my mother used to say, but she was referring to some food I didn’t like.
For years, I counseled clients who were deeply sick with schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression, paranoia, addiction, and criminal behavior. The course of their lives was often stuck in neutral and at times reverse. Our country is now in reverse around political violence, gun control, voter restrictions, election denial, and off-the-wall conspiracy theories. My clients, though, at least with proper medication, could often function without hospitalization. In fact they were, for the most part, non-violent, with their psychosis turned inward only. Mostly, they hurt no one.
That is not true of the politicians who block all forms of common sense gun control, however. Their insanity does hurt millions of others. Trump’s insanity led to the death of thousands of Covid sufferers, along with violence directed at people or institutions he chronically denigrates. McConnell’s insanity led to a Supreme Court that broke precedent denying the right of women to control their own bodies and backtracking on the 1965 Civil Rights bill which has contributed to the continued suffering of millions of Black Americans.
Our insanity around our unwillingness to deal with climate change and global warming from fossil fuels–and this crosses party lines–has led to a planet that is sweating and melting and burning and flooding at a pace never before seen by scientists and laypeople alike.
Our unwillingness to deal forcefully with white supremacists and fascist nationalists–and this too crosses party lines–has led to a dramatic increase in violent acts of anti-semitism, mysogeny, xenophobia, and racial slurs against migrants, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and LGBTQ people.
Republican unwillingness to deal with gun violence is criminal and has led to the death of thousands of men, women, and, most tragically, children. Even the horrendous massacre at Uvalde could not produce the kind of reform needed to take military-style guns off the streets. That is a national disgrace and further evidence of the psychosis that is systemic in our country today. The number of suicides in our country from the incidental presence of guns in homes is greater than any other country. That too is a national disgrace and opposes a basic principle of American democracy set forth by our Founding Fathers: that every citizen is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or to paraphrase, health, justice, and prosperity. Not to mention, open carry–one of the most abominable examples of national insanity the world has ever seen.
What I did to help those people with psychosis, addiction, and criminality during my career was to listen to their stories and be of service when they were willing to meet me halfway. I could not help them alone. It was a joint effort only that made a difference. Yes, a key was that they admitted they had a problem and needed help. It was those who joined me in finding solutions to their suffering that made the changes and the efforts that led to breaking the chains that led to their suffering and aberrant behavior. Not an easy task, but possible if the will to change was there.
And that is what our country now needs: an acknowledgement that we do and have had problems, to identify those problems, and come together to find common sense solutions to solve our problems. It does no good to ban books we don’t like. It does no good to allow more mass killings of kids. It does no good to curse our president. It does no good to continue to alienate and discriminate against our minority citizens. It does no good to allow the neo-Nazis among us to intimidate and spread fear and hatred without officially labeling them as the terrorists they are. It does no good to ignore our past transgressions and injustices of slavery and genocide and attempt to sweep them under the rug by politically controlling what teachers teach. That’s what China does. That’s what Russia does. That’s what North Korea does. That’s what Cuba does. That’s not what the United States of America does!
It took courage for my clients with psychosis to acknowledge the need to change and accept their own responsibility in the need to participate in making that change happen. Part of that courage involved breaking away from dependency on a system that often failed to encourage that independence. Same with our country. The government, alone, can’t solve our problems without the participation and cooperation of a unified public.
Joe Biden said it well: Americans can accomplish anything we set our minds to as long as we do it with a unifying spirit and determination. But to do that we need to come to our senses and stop fighting with one another. No state is completely Red or Blue. Every state consists of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, all with common needs, desires, and dreams for wellbeing and happiness.
We’re in this rescue boat together, folks. To survive, we have to cooperate and find a way to safety, security, and mental health. As Rodney King, a Black American victim of police brutality, asked sincerely in 1991: “Can’t we all just get along?”
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