Bridging The Gap; Mental Illness and The Thinning Blue Line

I don’t know why we do this. Seriously. There is a manhunt going on for a Cop Killer in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, LEOs and their families are the targets. And Randy and I are sitting here in the office at home watching a documentary on Timothy McVeigh. I’ll be dreaming of bombs and manhunts, I’m sure.

Yet, the ongoing events of today and watching the history and details of the Oklahoma City bombing is a terrifying reminder that the line that runs between the good guys and the bad guys grows thinner and thinner.

Eight years ago we were watching a young man in an orange jumpsuit who was former military being led into a courtroom because he planted a bomb that killed 168 people, including children, and today we have Law Enforcement Officers searching for a former Cop who has murdered one LEO and injured 3 others…for now.

So what is the problem?

Timothy McVeigh was mentally ill. And I am convinced that when Chris Dorner is found today, tomorrow, or next week, we will find that he too is mentally ill.

Wake up, America. We are dealing with a not-so-new sickness. Mental illness has always existed. The 24-hour news cycle has not. We live in a world of instant gratification, faux-fame, and misguided hero-worship, which can lead us to copy-cats. Which produces a cycle of mass murders and tragedy.

In addition to the media’s need for a story and drama, we live in a society where we just want people to be normal. And if you aren’t normal, or if you are too hyper, or you (gasp) have an imagination, a psychiatrist says this can be fixed! They prescribe this or that. Kids grow addicted to the cycle of doctors appointments and medications that mellow them out or hype them up. And instead of allowing kids to be kids, we box them in and in the end, we are confusing kids who are unique with kids who need help. And instead of talking, really talking, instead of investing the time and energy into each case, we have doctors who spend less than 20 minutes with their patients, ask the most basic questions, and scribble out another prescription. We are doing this new generation a huge disservice on so many levels.

Then we have parents. We have the parents who do everything from homeschooling to doctors appointments to keeping track of the correct medications and doing the research along side the doctors. These parents sacrifice time, energy, and huge chunks of their lives to making sure that their kids are successful in life. And then there are the parents who can’t be bothered, whose pride is too great, who can’t bear to think that their kids could be in need of help of any kind.

And while the parent who lives every day trying to do it right won’t always succeed, it is far more likely that the latter type of parent will fail their kids and themselves.

At the end of the day, whether Timothy McVeigh, Chris Dorner, or Adam Lanza had perfect childhoods or dysfunctional ones, whether they had the worlds greatest or worst parents, we as a society are the ones who are failing these people. Because it won’t be gun control that stops tragedies like the ones we have experienced over the last decade and it won’t be more regulations or legislation. It will be a more attentive society, full of doctors, parents, teachers, friends, and co-workers who step up to the plate and speak up when we notice our neighbor struggling.

No, we won’t be able to help everyone and we will never be able to prevent tragic events from happening because we live in a fallen world. But we can be kinder. We can be more inclusive. We can teach our kids that our differences are what makes the world go ’round. And we can lead by example.

Praying tonight for our LEOs to the West who will remain vigilant through the night and for their families, blood and blue, as they mourn loss. May the thin blue line grow a little thicker as we support one another through one more night of “the job.”