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Was Every Single Nazi Mentally Ill?

I woke up on Sunday morning to the news of yet another mass shooting. It wasn’t the one in El Faso Texas that I went to bed hearing about. It was yet another one –  this time in Dayton Ohio.

After texting to check on the safety of a college roommate and her family, who live in Dayton, I almost thew up.

I’m not exaggerating. I was literally sick to my stomach.

I felt completely powerless and angry.

When a friend called to check on me, she expressed the same thoughts. She was on her way to church and said she’d be praying.

“Pray that people actually elect leaders who care more about people than they do about money.” I said. “Because right now? They obviously don’t.”

She agreed.

We are both furious at the NRA, which is all about ensuring the gun industry continues to make money, that ignorant people fall for its propaganda, and that politicians remain in its pockets.

The current resident of the White House is no exception. Like so many politicians who think they need the support of the NRA, he’s pointing his fingers at mental illness and not at a problem with gun availability. In fact, too many so-called leaders do everything they can to avoid addressing the fact that there is a huge gap between responsible gun ownership and arming citizens with semi-automatic weapons. If they did, they’d be admitting there is plenty of opportunity for compromise.

In all the history books I’ve read, I don’t remember one that claimed America’s sordid history of racism is linked to mental illness. Can you imagine claiming that every member of the Klu Klux Klan or of a lynch mob was diagnosable? They weren’t. They were full of hate and fear.

The reign of terror carried out by the Nazi’s prior to and during World War II wasn’t linked to mental illness.  Sure, the case can be made that Adolf Hitler was mentally ill, but not every single Nazi. They were full of hate and fear.

And now, do we claim that every perpetrator of domestic violence or that every racist is mentally ill? No. They too are simply full of hate and fear.

I can’t predict the future, but I do know that our present times will soon be history. And I can only hope that my grandchildren don’t have to read about how mass shootings became an acceptable risk of every day life. Instead, I hope they read about how concerned and compassionate citizens refused to let corporate interests control America and voted out the politicians who allowed that to happen.

I Couldn’t Get a Dog so I Got a Gun

rodney1Conflict among people is normal, and most of us accept it as a routine part of life. Conflict within ourselves is just as normal, but something with which we often struggle.

As a licensed social worker, I couldn’t get out of bed every morning if I didn’t believe people can change, that humans have an innate responsibility to support each other and that no good comes from belittling others.

As a rational human, I couldn’t get through life if I simply tolerated and never called out stupid and ridiculous beliefs and behaviors.

As a licensed social worker, I have to ensure that my conduct is appropriate, that I abide by a code of ethics and that I participate in ongoing continuing education.

As a rational human, I am dumbfounded by people who complain when they are required to meet expectations and criteria before they are provided with opportunities and privileges.

As a licensed social worker, I have an obligation to listen, try to understand the perspective of others and validate their feelings.

As a rational human, I simply cannot understand why others choose to ignore facts, scream conspiracy and throw around accusations that are hurtful. I have to call out people who choose to believe and spread all of the vile, ridiculous and illogical propaganda about gun control that I have been witnessing over the past few weeks.

The rabid followers of the NRA propaganda machine remind me of children blindly hitting a piñata at a birthday party. For most people, hitting the piñata is just fun game that results in children scrambling for a few pieces of candy. But  the NRA is turning gun control into a piñata  that must be destroyed and is putting the blindfolds on people as they swing at it. Those swinging the sticks are convinced that if they don’t break the piñata, they will never have candy again.

In reality, if the piñata doesn’t break, the children won’t be denied candy. They just won’t get the immediate gratification they are seeking.

Most parents allow their children to have candy, but they don’t want them to make a diet of it. Similarly, gun control advocates are not screaming that everyone’s guns should be confiscated. Instead, they are recognizing that too many lives are being broken and destroyed by guns and that something must be done. To counter that, claims are being made that the gun death statistics in the United States aren’t that bad.

Tell that to someone who has lost a loved one to a gun. For them, one death is too many.

Just ask Jackie Barden, whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in December. Jackie recently noted that the process for adopting a kitten is more difficult than getting a gun.

I don’t know much about adopting kittens, but I do know a lot about adopting dogs. As a volunteer for a dog rescue group, my role is to process applications. In other words, I do background checks. I check national “do not adopt” lists. I do a criminal background check. I conduct property checks. I review living arrangements. I talk to animal control and veterinarians about the applicants. And I call references. If I don’t find any red flags, another volunteer conducts a home visit.

Many families who want to adopt a dog are denied for a variety of reasons: they’ve had pets hit by cars; they haven’t spayed or neutered their current or previous pets; they aren’t home enough to spend quality time with an animal; they don’t have the money or space for a dog; they already have too many pets. The list is long and varied, but the bottom line is the same.  Rescue groups want to ensure the dogs have a good quality of life and, most of all, that they are safe.

We should want the same for people.  And yet, in the United States, people who are denied adopting a dog can walk into a store or a gun show and buy almost any gun they want.

We might be keeping dogs safe, but I have to wonder about the people.