[Ed note: This is the somewhat cleaner version of my previous post for those who can't stomach so much of my potty mouth.]
I hate to add to your Case of The Mondays with this news, but since it seems to have escaped most everyone’s attention, I felt it was my absolute duty to advise you that we are all – in fact – CRAZY.
You see, our great American society is not only fat and in debt up to our eyeballs, our brother’s eyeballs, and China’s eyeballs, we are so messed up in the head we have no idea how to be human anymore. We are KILLING OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER.
The United States is ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality. Your baby has a better chance of seeing the light of day in TWENTY-NINE other countries. But here it’s a total crap shoot depending upon whether the birth takes place at Boston General or a smack house. What are we doing about that?
Once a child is born here in the Land of the Free, he or she has a one in five chance of living in oppressive poverty. Our government defines poverty as an annual income below $23,492 for an average family of four. Seriously? Let’s be honest and say any family of four making twice that much is struggling in this country. We have an epidemic of working poor yet we ignore what that even means. There are several other federal programs acknowledging that “poverty” (or at least the real-world threshold for needing help) is at a much higher income level. For example, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caps assistance at $43,568 annually for a family of four. The school lunch program caps the same at $29,055 for free lunch and $41,348 for reduced. So are we saying that you’re only really poor in this country if you’re hungry AND unemployed? What are we doing about that?
And hello, America, we are diverse from sea to shining sea. Maybe that $23K plus some Food Stamps is kickin’ in your little cabin in Alaska. Though if you’re a family of four living in Stamford, Connecticut, where the cost of living is 63% higher than the U.S. average, you guessed it – you, your infants, and your children are out of luck. What are we doing about that?
But hey, the good news is that if you don’t have a job or healthcare, we’ve got government programs that have your back. They may not work so well for the people who actually need them, but there are folks out there making a sweet living riding one loophole after another while you find yourself on a waitlist for the third year. Meanwhile, none of the agencies charged with assisting good folks like yourself actually coordinate with each other, so while you were waitlisted for Medicaid, your Section 8 Housing request was denied. Apparently, page 5 of 7 in your application was missing. In other words, COME BACK NEXT MONTH, ASSHOLE. No one cares if you and your kids are homeless. What are we going to do about that?
I just read in a local paper that our soup kitchen is completely overwhelmed. Instead of 80 folks for lunch, they are feeding anywhere from 100 to 150 per day. Families are lined up at 9:30 in the morning for a free meal served at 11am. What the hell are we doing about that?
Here’s the real deal, friends. People are CRAY CRAY. Myself included. Mental healthcare in this country is as much of a joke and an insult as Rosanne Barr singing the National Anthem. People are under enormous strain in a schizophrenic economy with inflated gas prices, crappy employment, and John Boehner’s stronghold on the tanning industry.
Just WHAT are we going to do about that?
People are in tremendous pain. No one is listening. This cycle of drudgery and stagnation in our society is making country music sound like our happy opus. Priorities are insanely inverted and Minecraft is not a religion, for the record. Facebook isn’t real and you can drink a lot and still wake up with the same problems plus less cash.
But what else can you do? Who the hell would you trust to share your scary self with? When you are in your darkest moments, can you even form the words? Would you risk your job? Your marriage? The custody of your children?
Because let’s once again ask ourselves to be brutally honest – our society is not a forgiving one when it comes to mental illness. One whiff of crazy and people are OUT. The stigma is permanent dog shit stuck to your shoe.
And SCREW insurance. I mean I have been to therapy, kids. Six visits barely gets us to my favorite color. I don’t know too many folks who have the $175 cash per hour for the next 40 sessions that will get us to second grade and why I have an aversion to Barry Manilow.
36,000 people commit suicide in this country each year. Please stop and read that again. (I’ll wait.)
You have to ask yourself, how could it get so bad for so many people that they saw no other way out?
And for those who felt disenfranchised and marginalized – or simply INVISIBLE – why do think they chose a mass shooting as their last act on this earth? Too many video games? HELL. NO. Because they had a bone to pick with their neighbors, with us, with our society. We failed them. All of them. Some were bullied. Some were fired. Some were discriminated against. Some had fallen on tough times and been abandoned. All suffered a mental breakdown. All were broken. All needed our help. We failed them. As a nation, we failed them.
In 1999, right here in this country, somebody thought it crass to throw perfectly good babies away in dumpsters, that the practice had been going on for far too long. It was shocking and messy and it made enough people pissy to do something about it. Thus, within a few short years, all 50 of these United States had adopted some form of Safe Haven law so that idiots would stop doing that. It’s worked pretty damn well, too. Unlike mass shootings, I don’t hear about dead babies in dumpsters as often as there used to be. Score one for using the ol’ thinking cap.
I’m wondering why we’ve kind of just sat back and watched the news footage roll of the last NINE HUNDRED PEOPLE KILLED BY MASS SHOOTINGS IN THIS COUNTRY. Because if you think for one minute this is a gun debate – you are wrong. This is about mental illness and why those who have it are invisible in this country until they whack a few dozen people.
Don’t we have at least one or two smarty pants up for the challenge here? You know, to fix this? Snap us out of it? Remind us how to be human again? Make us RESPONSIBLE to each other?
This country isn’t working, if you haven’t noticed. Like literally, it is SHUT DOWN. WHAT are we going to do about that?
I’m going to start by being honest with myself and my family. There are days when I am more than capable of doing more for others than I have been. There are also days when I need to speak up and say, “I need help.” I want to get better at both.
Then I am going to start paying better attention to the needs of my neighbors and my community. And I will open my heart, reach out my hand and ask, “What can I do about that?”