I was skiing in Vail last week. The weather was Colorado perfect and the conditions just right for Corduroy Ted. I have that moniker because the old guy avoids bumps and stays on the freshly groomed slopes these days. I had the wonderful company of my nephew, Paul and his wife, Tania.
When we got back to the house, we found out that a good friend and neighbor had been involved in a rather horrific ski accident. Her femur was smashed and jammed into her pelvis. Not even the renowned orthopods in Vail could help her. She was on her way to Denver in the back of an ambulance.
Word spread quickly and the support group fell into place. Kids were picked up at school, dinners were made and beds were found. Everyone pitched in. I imagine the same type of actions took place in Tucson over the weekend. Many of the endings were not so happy.
Kathy and I had lived in Arizona for a number of years. I can easily picture the shopping center. The people. Basically simple sorts, just trying to find some sunshine and live a nice life. Incredibly, the heroes disarming the madman ranged from a college student to a grandmother.
It was almost surreal the way the group subdued the deranged killer,quickly went to the aid of the wounded and consoled the families of the dead. A judge, a husband, a sweet little girl. All so tragic.
There was a doctor and his wife who were just going to the store. She was a nurse and they immediately went to work. Calmly and quietly. It seemed the media of all kinds wanted to make something more of the story. These people just wanted to start the business of healing.
Tucson is a sleepy town. The University of Arizona is about the only thing going on and that is just fine with the locals. The political bent of most college towns is not really that evident here. Just simple folk. Like Oklahoma City. Like Fort Hood. Like Columbine.
The reactions are so similar. Do away with guns. Let’s try to explain away the insanity on some political faction. Why didn’t anyone do something about this dude? Why don’t we lock people up? Why? Why?
We want our rights but get so upset when someone abuses them. That is part of the whole concept. Inherant in the privilege is responsibility. We want to blame someone. Anyone. I say look in the mirror.
I have friends who are hunters. I get it. But if you have ever picked up an UZI, shot an M16 on full automatic or watched the havoc wrought by twin 50 caliber machine guns,you get the difference. There is no correlation between a target pistol and a Glock semiautomatic with an expanded magazine holding several dozen bullets. None.
This was an act of a very sick person. Lock him up, you say. But where? We have cut spending on mental health. Shut down hospitals. Put people on the streets. We estimate 20-30% of the homeless here in Denver are mentally ill. They were discharged to our walkways and underpasses. They were left to their own designs. Yes, we so often look the other way. A lot of people in Tucson did. And they regret it.
The political rhetoric has toned down for today at least. I spent four hours watching different talk shows on TV. I listened to both the liberal and conservative. I just don’t think anyone gets it. Some were accusatory. Some were defensive. Why do we have this insatiable urge to be right all the time? No one wanted to give an inch.
For the record, I don’t think politics had anything to do with this tragedy. But that does not exonerate any of us. The level of discourse these days is plain old out of hand. Not just politics but everyday life. We tune into radio and TV or print matter that backs up our particular view of the universe. Kind of like preaching to the choir. Don’t even want to consider the other side.
When you live in a small town you know everyone. I think it increases the responsibility of all. Our world today increasingly revolves around cyberspace as our neighborhood. I can twitter, blog, decry and do it all under the veil of a tough to discover address. In an effort to communicate better and faster, I think we get farther and farther away from each other.
It takes a village. That village can be a state or a nation or the world. We are all part of it. Don’t duck. Stand up and bear the responsibility of all that freedom entails. Get out from behind that desk. Get off the couch.Take a walk in your village. Get involved. Help someone heal.
Ted The Great
There are approximately 308 million people in the U.S There are 285 million guns.
Approx.20% of the population suffers from some sort of mental illness at any given point in time. 30% seek help. Over 90% could be cured.