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There's been lots of talk in the media about banning guns and so forth since the Colorado shooting. That's nonsense, even assuming we could collect every gun (and they likely outnumber American citizens) in this country, because the bad guys are certain to not turn in their weapons. But really, this is only a symptom.

Something is fundamentally wrong in the USA: Switzerland is 2nd in the world (next to us) in gun ownership, yet they have one of the lowest murder rates in the world, about 1/6 of ours. It's clearly not the guns that are the problem, but rather something about how our nation treats mental illness, deals with violence, engages in debate, and so much more.

We have - by a wide margin - the highest citizen-incarceration rate in the world. In the 1980s, we purge our mentally ill onto the streets. Ours is a fractured and sick nation.

Our culture is painfully divided between 1) fanatical religious types who feel it is God's will to do things like bomb healthcare providers, and 2) progressives who cannot even understand why the "followers of Jesus" - a man who preached love and understanding - can spout such hatred that even politicians running for high office feel they must say things they don't believe in order to get the vote of the radical right-wing. This only proves to the religous right that "teh leebrals" are wrong-headed. The two sides are incapable of talking to one another.

Meanwhile, we're imprisoning people left and right for such minor offenses as smoking pot three times. People with mental illness are not identified and treated. Poor folks live in desperate hopelessness where selling drugs is the only bright spot. And everyone else is so terrified of losing an income and health care that they remain wage-slaves to jobs they despise.

Solving those problems is HARD. The US doesn't seem to be a nation that has patience for long-term fixes; politically, our will is shorter than two years.

What can be done for our country? How can we cure our ills? We're doing it wrong, people.

Chris

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
Because anger is the default emotion. It's easier to be mad about things and shout and run in circles than it is to say "I need to do something about this." If we say "There are people out there who shouldn't have access to [guns] [cars] [members of the opposite sex] [mayonnaise]." Then someone else can say that "[insert your name here] should not have access to....", and that means that I am, somehow, not living the American Dream.

I need to do something about poor people. I need to do something about sick people. I need to do something about the people who need help.

It means that we can't sit behind the TV or the computer at night. We need to get up, and go out and do something, interact with people. People who we may not want to intract with, but wil have to.

It's not "cheap," it's not easy. I do one weekend a month getting up and helping people, and one weekend a year, and that adds up to about a thousand hours a year. That's a half time job.

--Hawk
mckitterick
Jul. 21st, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
In other words, we need lots more people like you out there. How to make that happen?
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
I don't know,
and it's a chronic problem in the volunteer services.

In America, last time I checked, there were 2,200,000 firemen alone in the country. Of those 2.2 million, 200,000 were career firemen. I'm ignoring ambulance for this, because I don't have figures for it.

In NY state, there is a problem with recruiting folks to help with the fire departments, because "I don't have time." That's the most common answer I get. "I've got volley ball on Wednesdays." Wednesdays is our drill night. There is no good night for these folks to show up.

Then they tell us what a great job we do when we make a save, or scream when their insurance rates go up, because the area we live in isn't hydranted. But they don't show up, even for an open house, when we're trying to recruit folks to come around.

It's not the training requirements, its the "get off the couch" requirements that are stopping people from joining.

And we have no idea how to fix that.

--Hawk
tully01
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
Re: I don't know,
Amen, Hawk. Been there, done that (volunteer recruiting). I put in roughly those same kind of annual hours, if at different things. Those who give a damn and want to give back will find you, if you keep the word out. They may be few but they're worth it.

And of course, the ones who bitch the most are the ones least likely to get off their butts. It would cut into their whine time.
silverfae
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
Where is the "like" button?

See, isn't that just the easy way out? In a recent job interview, I realized while answering that boss that I had dropped out of my volunteer work. Granted, I know that the reason is because my day job is much more of dealing with the issues one on one, and I'm tired of it at the end of the day, but I also saw that this is not the job for me if I don't have anything left to help out at least a couple hours a week.

Thank you for being part of the solution. I hope to get there again myself.
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Good luck. It would be hard on me to have to give up my volunteer work, I've been a fireman for 25 years.

If the volunteer work you were doing doesn't mesh with your day job, for whatever reason, then there's always other ways of volunteering. Big Brothers/Big Sisters, all sorts of ways to make the area a better place to live.

--Hawk
silverfae
Jul. 21st, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and you're right, there are many ways to serve (says she, the former military brat).

I used to do 4 hr shifts weekly at a suicide hotline, and for now, I'm answering desperate calls from desperate people all day long (veterans fighting for VA benefits, some from Vietnam and WWII, even).

I'm taking a first step by serving at a luncheon for a place I once worked for that helps people living with disabilities find work or help at home. It's now a real issue for me as a person with some limitations myself, so I hope it will lead me to see other ways in which to help as well.

I read up on your LJ and have enjoyed what you've had to say.. may I add you?
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Please feel free. I'll warn you, I'm a stickjock in the SCA, and I do ambulance/fire. Some of it is in jargon, and is me whining about work. :)

--Hawk
silverfae
Jul. 21st, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Some of my best friends are stickjocks, I hold no grudges. I also find it interesting that we have absolutely no LJ interests or friends in common beyond McK. I don't have a problem with that.

I'll read your whining about work, if you'll read me whining about mine.. be that as it may for the next few weeks, or until I GTFO. I don't post as often as many.
We in the disability law arena have the same sort of gallows humor as EMTs and criminal law, so beware that I may also be offensive as hell at times.

Edited at 2012-07-21 09:45 pm (UTC)
xinef
Jul. 21st, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
Well put. May I share this (ie link to this blog post)?
mckitterick
Jul. 21st, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and sure - my public posts are for public reading.
verminiusrex
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
Part of the problem is sheer numbers. Switzerland has a population of around 8 million, the US over 300 million. You are more likely to get a smaller group in a tighter geographic area to agree on principles like mental health care and gun control than you can in the vast expanse of a continent where you have countless regions vying for their own agenda.

tully01
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Switzerland is also much more ethnically/socially/culturally homogenous than the US. Same principle.
silverfae
Jul. 21st, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
Yes. I don't think that a lot of the people spouting stats have a grasp of just how vast (and diverse) this nation is, comparatively speaking.
iainjcoleman
Jul. 22nd, 2012 10:17 am (UTC)
Europe as a whole is no less diverse than the US, and substantially less violent.
silverfae
Jul. 22nd, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
You're speaking to someone who grew up over there.
I stand by my statement.
emt_hawk
Jul. 21st, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
We can't get 3 people to agree on a pizza topping, much less the population of America.

--Hawk
bemused_leftist
Jul. 22nd, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
"Part of the problem is sheer numbers."

I bounced off that in a different direction. In the US we have two groups in which the immediate family tends to have more babies than it can support financially or with enough attention: poor families who can't afford contraception, and those religious families that don't believe in it. Perhaps the more stable societies have a higher percentage of stable families.
(Deleted comment)
clevermanka
Jul. 22nd, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
You might get farther if you made a law declaring pictorial violence illegal on television, in movies, and in video games. As a nod to the First Amendment, the written word would be excepted from this ban.

Because prohibition always works.
(Deleted comment)
clevermanka
Jul. 25th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Three days later, and this comment still doesn't make sense to me.
(Deleted comment)
carmy_w
Jul. 23rd, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
"Solving those problems is HARD. The US doesn't seem to be a nation that has patience for long-term fixes; politically, our will is shorter than two years."

God; so much truth!

Ok, I was all set to write a dissertation on WHAT TO DO, then decided not to, at least not yet. I think this needs some serious thought on the matters.

Sadly, I think even what I'm imagining would be enough to send the libertarians into screaming hissy fits....

But-much more spent on mental/emotional health, and much more spent on gun tracking (not banning, though-but even the tracking will have the libertarians in flames) to flag purchases which look disturbing, for starters.

Much more spent on infrastructure, to get local jobs going, in order to get local economies going once again.
Legalize MJ and tax it, or at minimum make it available by scrip.


I honestly don't know what the hell to do with the Religious Right. I'd like to take a stick and beat them all, sometimes, for their bigotry, racism, misogyny, etc.
The only good thing about them is their incessant rules will drive the second/third generation from them much faster than anything we can do, and they will die out.

The only upside I can add is that it took the better part of 30 years to screw up the country this badly, as far as the political structure is concerned; if it takes much less time than that to fix it, I will be very surprised.

Yeah, that sounded really positive. What I mean is that it's going to have to be done one step at a time, and it's going to TAKE time, and it's always harder to pull up against gravity....

And I STILL managed to write a long post!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )