This pointed cartoon was on Pinterest and it shouts volumes to me as a seminary student, physician, prior political candidate and attorney.
Mercy Hospital in Chicago this week was bleeding because a jilted crazed male entered as a gunman wanting to retaliate against an unrequited love. In the malicious chaos, three innocent people were killed, and the gunman was killed.
As a seminarian student, I hear the words of Jesus saying ” Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” Matt 26:52. As a physician, who has worked Emergency rooms and continues to have open doors to patients daily, I literally cringe for the needless death of a dedicated colleague.
Dr. O’Neal, the woman physician who was murdered, was no doubt cut from the cloth of most physicians, the fabric of wanting to help and heal. Medical personnel must deal with the presentation of very fragile patients each day, and what we have to offer that, is insubstantial to limited.
While the sad siege at Mercy Hospital was not a mass murder by any definition, it was an action of a mentally imbalanced man. His emotional and mental illness was missed at several levels, his academic institution, his fire department firing, his divorce hearings, his ex-wife, and his physician fiance, but none of them are to blame.
Instead, the blame if any goes to a system that makes it easy to get a gun, but hard and scare and shameful to get mental health treatment. Males especially in our society are conditioned to ignore or hide feelings of inadequacy, but encouraged via violent sports and rampant video games to retaliate, don’t capitulate. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can attest to the disastrous effects of the hard financial cuts in numerous states reducing the availability of mental health services. I surmise the tide of these ill thought budget cuts for mental health services is finally turning as we consider the Fiscal Year 2019 budget that will include $10 billion over five (5) years to combat the opioid epidemic and serious mental illness.
One domino down, but we still need serious legislation considering the ease of availability in obtaining guns, so granted. Still people kill people, and our society has glorified ill-placed power in wielding a gun. Our constitution provides for a right to bear arms, originally meant for militia, but in 2008 the Supreme Court endorsed that right to individuals in their home for self-defense. It is the lax vetting and the illegal access to weapons that brings the video screen vividly to life and death.
As a society, I believe and have faith in our God given common sense, plus the 6th commandment! (Refresher: Thou shalt not kill.) There are solutions and options. Constitutional amendments have been enacted in our history, budget increases are on the horizon, parental control of violent videos, maximum vetting for any gun purchase, and especially a society with a heart to address the needs of the mentally ill via services, lifting of stigma and discussing mental health openly in the public forum. Truth be told, I offer Psalm 34:14 for believers and non-believers, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”