I take the title of these remarks from a sentence in an article by Liza Long posted on December 16, 2012 at gawker.com, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.” No insurance plan will cover this kind of thing, Ms Long declares, in a lyrical and riveting essay on the troubling spectrum of her son’s behaviors. Ms Long’s essay was motivated in part by the December 14 tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and certainly in large part by the profound challenge of raising her brilliant and disturbed child. She goes on to say, this problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.
On Sunday, December 16, in a presentation at an interfaith vigil in the town of Newtown, Connecticut, the President said, “These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and it is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”
When Caroline Myss, a New York Times best-selling author and dynamic teacher of spiritual psychology, is asked for her insight on the cause of illness or the reason for tragedy, she admonishes that there is never any one cause which leads to a specific result. There are always many causes or reasons that are ultimately behind any situation or effect.
As long as we believe that others who are “high maintenance,” that is, the poor, the mentally ill, the uneducated, the clinically depressed, the elderly, the jobless, the terminally ill (and the list goes on), are not deserving of authentic and ongoing intervention and assistance (because they should somehow have done something to have helped themselves), we will only have inefficient, inadequate and partial social programs to address these issues. And there will be no reason to have insurance plans that cover the gaps or pick up the slack of inadequate social programs – because we don’t think they’re necessary. As long as we believe that any underachiever, addict, or down-on-their-luck person just needs to exercise more self-responsibility, I assert that we also need to have readily available programs and funds and housing and food and transportation and clothing to assist them with climbing out of their pit. Human beings cannot improve their lives and develop greater sufficiency without resources. Period. How long would any of us last in the desert without food, water, and a tent? Or how about just without our current utilities infrastructure? As long as we expect that the burden of care for the high maintenance among us must be borne solely by individuals and their families whose tents are only so big, we will collectively continue to pay dearly. It’s worth stating here that any misconceptions and even arrogance we have regarding the “lessons” of those in trouble should consider that there is never any one cause for a single effect – and we are all subject to the same physical laws.
Mental illness, like poverty and accidents, will likely always be with us. It is inherent to our lesser nature to default to an incomplete and imbalanced understanding of all the factors that create these conditions, and to understand justice through the lens of polarity rather than through the heart of compassion. When human beings take the leap of understanding and beyond that, accept that we are all in life together and that is it our divine obligation and desire to care for those with whom we do not share familial DNA, then we can build a vision of collective family. From this vision, different structures, legal processes and programs can emerge.
What can we do that is surely better than what we have done? We can create new systems, but in order to create new systems, it will be helpful to step outside of our known experiences. Jose Stevens, PhD, author and shaman, says that we need to create a paradigm that takes us to places in our consciousness that we have never been to before. I believe that we can call in a future that is in far greater alignment with the real values many of us subscribe to. If we believe that everyone should have a roof over their heads, should be able to pursue the education that will develop their abilities to contribute, and then activate those through meaningful employment, then we find or create the means and the ways to make this happen. If we believe that there should be universal health care, then we envision the systems that will support this. And while we do so, let us not ignore the organizations already in place, and that depend heavily on donations. We can bring these into the mainstream, making them an integral part of the culture. The shift here is that these organizations can be empowered to be far more than charities.
Let us put on our best strategic minds in service to a more beautiful and just world, one that engages our many different skills and talents. It is our collaborative and cooperative efforts that are the insurance plan that can cover many different kinds of claims. The vision and the value is this: each one of us has the right to claim, and indeed must claim, their highest and best expression. Imagine a community where everyone is contributing at their peak! In the meantime, we can continue our support of organizations that support others, and continue to reach out to each other in humility and without judgment, as there is not a single one of us who has not been given vast foundations of support to become who we are now.
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