December 21, 2012. That day has been talked about for years. Brought to mean the “end of the world”. Armageddon in the flesh. However, what I think the date represents is a change in our collective consciousness. A shift in how the world is viewed. The beginning of a new era if you will. And that belief is shared by many experts. The date was never meant to be the end of the world. Or some catastrophic event that would end us. It was to be the beginning of a new phase of life. I have struggled to find the answer as to what that might mean. Will people riot? Kill themselves believing that this is the end? What exactly is that day going to bring. Well, I think I have found the answer. Or at least, the explanation that makes sense in my mind.
On Friday, December 14, 2012, our nation was forever changed. For years we have watched news reports on senseless violence that has taken place in our schools. At our movie theaters. At our neighbor’s home. But we have never experienced the type of tragedy that occurred in Connecticut. The victims were the most innocent among us. Children. Babies in every right. And they were also the protectors of those children. The ones who gave up their lives in that moment to save the innocence of the ones who were able to escape. Shootings that have happened previously, we tried to find explanations. A reason for the madness. But there was no explanation for this. There will never be an explanation. But we, as a nation, have forever been altered because of it.
Yes, a lot of people will focus on gun laws. But that’s not really the key issue. At least not to me. What we need to focus on is mental health. The taboo subject that not many in society want to speak of. Or god forbid, deal with. But by all accounts, Adam Lanza, the face of evil that was encountered by too many in that small Connecticut town, had been dealing with a mental disorder his entire life. Maybe his mother had attempted to get him help. Maybe she had exhausted every avenue. But either way, that help never arrived. Hindsight is always 20/20 and we will hear news story after news story about how people always thought that something “wasn’t right” with him. That this event “wasn’t a surprise” given his history. But how about instead of looking back, we actually provided help to a person who truly needed it at the time they needed it. I’m not giving Adam an excuse for what he did. By no means. I truly believe he was an incarnation of the evil that exists in this world. But what if there was a chance that we could have steered him in a different direction? What if he could have been helped years ago? What if, if he was provided the help he almost assuredly needed, he never would have stormed into that elementary school on that day? Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe he always would have ended up in that direction and in that place. But what if?
For so long, mental health has been a stigma that people do not want to think about. If there is nothing wrong with them, they don’t want to face the fact that there are many out there who are not okay. Not all who have a mental disorder are violent. We are not all demons. We are not all evil. I do not know if Adam Lanza could have been stopped. I do not know if the shooter at the movie theater could have been stopped. I do not know if they had been provided therapy or medication, if it would have stopped those events from happening. But what I do know is that medication has saved me. Saved me from myself. I was never a danger to others. Never. But I was a danger to myself. And now that aspect of myself has dimmed. Oh it is still there. It lurks in my subconscious. In my thoughts. In my dreams. But it is not at the forefront of my mind. I can make it through a day without feeling like I am going to drown in the world around me. I believe in the thought of tomorrow. I believe that I deserve a tomorrow. Which is something that for so long, I didn’t believe in. So if I was helped, maybe they could have been too. If nothing else, it is a topic that needs to be talked about. We have seen for too long what happens when we don’t talk about it. When we try and convince ourselves that people will be able to figure it out on their own. Or that each person is solely responsible for themselves and no one else. Because the actions of these people affects all of us. I cannot imagine what those parents and loved ones are going through. I cannot even begin to imagine what I would feel like if it was me. If I was having to bury my nephew or my niece. It’s unimaginable. Maybe providing mental health services to more people wouldn’t help at all. Maybe it would do absolutely nothing to solve the problem. But maybe it would. Maybe it would make a difference. And if there is a chance, as remote as it might be, that these events could be prevented then I think it is worth it to explore.
Maybe December 21, 2012 is the date in which we realize that we are all in this together. That, as a nation, we are only as strong as the weakest among us. Because the truth is, we are. As much as we don’t like to think about it, it is reality. And it is something we need to start talking about. This is the real world in which we live in. The world in which our children will grow up in. This is our “next phase of life”. And it’s about time we start making sure it’s a better one than the one we currently have. Our nation is broken. But everything that is broken can be fixed. At least that is what I was told. I’m not fixed, but I’m a lot closer than I was yesterday. We cannot change overnight. It can never work that way. But we can all take the first step. Together.