My Simple Religion

16 Comments

I could write about a mental health system that is broken – a system that is not easily accessible and puts individual rights over that of the community.  As a psychotherapist working with the homeless population, I am acutely aware of the lack of funding, the stigma and, therefore, the lack of services, for those in need.  The experts are here – but few in need can afford “the best.” We can’t make those who need it the most adhere to treatment because they have rights or their insurance won’t cover it.  Insurance companies make the rules on how much treatment one gets. I could go on and on.

I could write about gun regulation – or a lack thereof.  Anyone can get a gun, really. And once you have one – no one monitors what you do with it.  My father, in his advanced stages of dementia, had a stockpile of guns.  A hobby, a hunter – in his past he was the poster boy for gun safety and responsible ownership.  I respect gun ownership for those who respect guns.  He continued to want to hunt as his disease progressed despite confusion and his loss of agility. I called the Department of Natural Resources to inquire about having his license taken away. The woman on the other end bragged about how in our state everyone has a right to keep their guns. 

But I can’t get my mind off the fact that these mass shootings and gun violence, in general, is not an epidemic ANYWHERE else but in this country.  Most countries have guns and every country deals with mental illness, but this country as a whole is, for lack of a better word, “ill.” How do we solve a problem that is societal – that lies somewhere in the collective psyche of a nation?

We are all searching for answers right now.  I embrace the debate because it is important and necessary to hear out all sides on this issue.  In fact listening and respecting differing opinions is a powerful tool that we rarely utilize in this country.  And although I believe gun control and access to mental health treatment is essential right now, they are only a temporary solution to a larger problem.  A problem that is rooted in our economic system, our politics and, consequently, our very attitude about “being.” 

WE MUST SHIFT FROM A CAPITALISTIC-BASED ‘BEWARE OF YOUR NEIGHBOR’ ATTITUDE TO ONE THAT EMBRACES HELPING YOUR NEIGHBOR!  Individual rights are important but our society is overfocused on “me, me, me” and, instead, should focus on “us.” Community rights need to trump individual rights to both support our poor and mentally ill and to protect our populace. No one should have to live in an “every man for themselves” world. That is an unkind place to live.

Capitalism, at its core, is about competition.  Within this system are winners and losers.  This system only works if there is a safety net for those “losers” which this country does not have.  Our media has exacerbated this problem by fear-mongering and our politicians have done so by telling the general population to vote for them or you will have to be fearful of your neighbor.  “The poor want to take your money without working for it.” “Homosexuals marrying threatens your family and marriage.” “Obama is a muslim who hates America.” These lies are dangerous and put Americans on the defensive.

We are being told to fear those that are different than us and so we do! For example, many people are scared of the homeless population and of the mentally ill – but why? Have you met a homeless person or a mentally ill person and really gotten to know them?  They aren’t scary. Homeless people are just like you or me but they don’t have the money to pay for the wood and brick that would build them a house.  Mentally ill people are, for the most part, intelligent, non-threatening people who want to be “normal” but many have no way to get the real help they need!

Scared, damaged people without responsible information and a support system act out their fear in fits of anger.  Anger is the acting out of hurt and fear.  We need to stop hurting one another and fearing one another. This is a vicious cycle that only begets more hurt and fear. Teaching our young children to defend themselves, while in these times may seem necessary, only teaches them they need to be scared of their neighbor. Can we teach them to reach out and be kind too? I hope the collective consciousness brought about by this tragedy yields a mindset that rises above fear and politics and turns towards acceptance of your neighbor no matter their sex, race, religion, sexuality, mental health, housing status, education level…I could go on…but kindness must be our guide.

I want to end with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; No need for complicated philosophy….our own brain, our own heart is our temple. The philosophy is kindness.”  Be brave and step out of your fear and into kindness.

16 thoughts on “My Simple Religion

  1. How did I not know that you have a blog??? I’m glad you are sharing your thoughts – people need to hear this! You hit the nail on the head.

    • Because I am weird and shy Rachel!! I haven’t told anyone about the blog– I think I just “came out of the closet” – lol. People want to focus on the symptoms and not the problem – it has to be said, but I have little hope for real change. People laugh at my kind approach to life sometimes – i know you don’t though! Thanks.

  2. It is impossible not to admire your well-thought sentiments and humane response to our latest national tragedy. I could only hope your “following” WordPress colleagues number in the millions. This piece needs to have a wider audience….

    • Thank you. Unfortunately, I don’t write on here much and have a very small number of people who read it. I have always written mostly for myself. I did post it on Facebook – which is about as brave as I get when it comes to sharing writing, though I think I was pretty brave . I had to take my own advice and not let fear of judgement rule.

  3. Excellent post and I agree with every word. It is scary the mindset of our nation and the path we keep going down, cowering at every shadow or every person or idea who is “different” from us.

    I think I will try out the Press This button on this post and see what will happen. Your thoughts are important and I hope many will read them. Good for you for posting this to FB. I, like you, have not told anyone (ok, I did tell about 6 people when I started my blog) and I have never posted to FB.

    • Thanks! I can’t emphasize enough how fear begets anger. BTW – I am totally stalking this and freaking out that people I know are reading it but, again, I wrote about not living in fear so I am trying not to!

      • I would be totally freaking out if I just “came out of the closet” with my blog too. Good for you! I was very excited to see your post pop up in my email this morning. :-)

  4. Pingback: My Simple Religion | Shoes On The Wrong Feet

  5. You hit some great points in this post.

    There are so many thoughts running through my head right now, two of which you mentioned.

    Some of the others? We expose our children to violence at a much younger age then we were exposed. Movies, video games, certain sports.

    The media focuses on the negative and shoves it down our throats ad nauseum. Then they ask the disgusting questions. To a teacher who sheltered her children in a bathroom….”did they cry?” REALLY, what kind of sick individual asks this?

    Our ahtletes are stars, and we glorify them, even when they are acting badly, for instance Bob Costa went off on gun control during half-time of a football game while a player from the Dallas Cowboys who had driven drunk sat on the side-lines, not playing but getting paid.

    Oh goodness, I’ve gone on and on, I hope when the talking starts that people can actually hear what the other is saying.

    Great thought provoking post.

    • Thank you for reading and for your thoughts. Tontrybto wrap your head around this is overwhelming. The numbness people have towards violence has got to be a contributing factor. The media glorifies the events and makes it a TV movie and not a “real”experience! Our country must grow from this!

  6. The city I live in has great care for the homeless and mentally ill people. Other cities actually bus their homeless to us so we can give them the care they need. We have worked with several people and agencies in town and seen first hand the opportunities they have to get help, health care and make a life change. There’s no reason anyone in our city should be without food or a place to stay.
    If you look at the current statistics, the number of deaths using a gun have steadily declined over the last several years. There are also stricter gun laws in many places and the number of guns being purchased has declined the last several years as well.
    The largest age bracket killing with guns are the 18-24 year olds. That should tell us something. The last 2 or 3 generations have no regard for life and that is perpetuated by our politics and media. No one thinks twice about killing a baby but everyone wants to save the trees. There is no regard for human life.
    I have a simple religion also. I simply believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to this Earth to die on the cross to save His people and He rose again 3 days later and is waiting for us to choose Him so we can spend eternity in Heaven. The simple book that tells you everything you need to know is called the Bible. Everyone says “follow your heart” and “do what you ‘feel’ is right.” The Bible very simply tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
    It also tells us in Mark 7:21-23: “From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.”
    I know, I know – I’m a holy roller. What I do know is that my life looks different that alot of people in this world. What is the difference? I believe and have trusted in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. People should give it a try sometime!

  7. I totally agree with you on this. It’s so heartening that there are people out there who are thinking like this. I don’t live in the US, but I feel that a gun control policy has to go hand in hand with a mental health policy. It’s saddening to see what we are doing to our children …

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