Updated: January 22, 2013 10:14AM
I read a novel years ago in which a character said, “Politicians are the vermin of the soul.”
Reading about Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and all of his family members feeding at the public trough, I rest his case.
Making sense of a senseless act
While we all try to make sense of the senseless tragedy in Newtown, Conn., our hearts ache for the unimaginable grief of the families of the young children and the adults who lost their lives. We will hug our loved ones and vow to be kinder to all.
Then, as we work to resolve our grief, we’ll ask why? What prompted this young man to commit this horrific act? We’ll want to blame him, his family, those who knew him. We’ll ask, “Why didn’t these people do something to prevent this?” What we need to do is ask, “Why haven’t we all done something to prevent this?”
There have been many similar tragedies. This is not an isolated incident. We need to improve our mental health delivery system. This is an opportunity to make a meaningful change that will help prevent further tragedies.
How do we do this? First, we need to recognize that most people living with serious mental illness are not perpetrating violence and are more likely to be the victim of violence due to the passivity and inattentiveness that is a byproduct of their illness. Educating the public about mental illness is badly needed. All should be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of serious mental illness in the same way that we’re aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer or heart disease.
We need to fund our mental health care system adequately. Instead of the massive budget cuts and the closure of inpatient psychiatric beds, we need to fund services that enable persons living with mental illness to obtain needed care. We need to change our laws to enable families to more easily access care for loved ones who are not able to request care for themselves.
We need to continue to train police officers to recognize the signs of mental illnesses and encourage them to get people into care. We need to educate judges so they can recognize behaviors propelled by mental illness and order treatment rather than incarceration.
But this is not all. We also need to talk about gun control. These are things we can do. We just need the will to do it.
Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago
It was nice to finally see Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) answering some questions about her future, but I find it interesting that one very important question wasn’t asked.
And that is, how is it possible for her to properly represent her ward while she lives in Washington, D.C.?