I’ve been watching the news, joining in on discussions on social media, and reading the editorials and blog posts about the horrific events that transpired on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. I’ve spent three days in many different states of mind – disbelief, horror, grief, anger. I’ve wept tears for the children and their teachers that have been lost. I’ve sat numb, reading the statement by the shooter’s father, my heart aching for the confusion and sorrow and shame he must feel. All this time, my mind keeps coming back to the same question. Why?
Just moments ago I listened to President Obama address the nation from the high school in Newtown. I sat silently and listened to him read the names of those who, because of this unimaginable tragedy, are no longer with us. And I heard him say that his personal reflections since Friday have given him resolve to find answers. I have a few questions I would like to ask that I feel he and the rest of our government need to answer, if we are to find a way to prevent another Newtown, another Aurora, another Tucson, another Columbine.
Why is it, four years after passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, there are still no rules written on how the law is to be executed and enforced?
Why do parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Mental Illness have to become legal experts in IDEA law to get their local school districts to provide the services their children need to benefit from the public education to which they are entitled?
Why do we have to wait until our mentally ill teens prove they are a danger to themselves or others before they are eligible for treatment?
Why are we closing state mental hospitals and community mental health clinics in favor of spending more on prisons?
Why are we demonizing parents who have made the agonizing decision to resort to medication for their children?
Why are we still spending billions of dollars a month in Afghanistan, instead of spending it on the National Institutes of Mental Health?
Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to get healthcare?
Why aren’t we funding Community Intervention Training for all of our police nationwide?
Why does Congress see healthcare as a privilege, but tax cuts as a right?
Why are we shouting at each other over whether abortion should be legal, when so many children that are already born are abused, neglected, and impoverished?
Why does anyone need a semi-automatic, high capacity clipped anything?
Why don’t we realize that it’s cheaper to invest in our citizenry than it is to bury or incarcerate them?
I can’t answer these questions all by myself. There are complex issues behind each and every one. But how many more six-year-olds will we have to bury before we are ready to set aside our differences, sit down at the table together, and roll up our sleeves and solve them?