How is your mental health doing? Okay? Oh, that’s good. Me? I’m hanging on by a thread.
I know many people feel the same way. I read their Twitter threads.
If you really try to keep up with it all, it will make your brain explode.
In the last two weeks, Instagram stories went from outrage from Pro-Choice proponents over the possible overturning of the Roe vs. Wade ruling, to Covid anti-vaxxers using that opportunity to call the Pro-Choicers hypocrites for selectively caring about the notion of “my body, my choice,” to the Pro-Choice proponents now turning around and calling the Pro-Life proponents hypocrites for blindly supporting gun lobbyists despite claiming to value human life.
Meanwhile, 19 children are dead.
The feeling of being helpless and powerless over existential problems is one thing, but continuously watching those problems get exploited and worsened by people in power – the same people we elect to solve those problems – is nauseating. And then to watch your peers with no real power fight amongst each other about it on social media is unbearable.
It feels like a “cry, laugh, cry” Joker moment: lamenting in agony over all the issues at hand that we can’t seem to come together as a country on, then laughing at the absurdity of the basis of our disagreements, and then choking back tears when you remember that the complacency of our crumbling democracy is coming at the cost of innocent, precious lives.
The mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas on Tuesday, May 22 that robbed the lives of 21 people – 19 children and two teachers- is just the latest gun-fueled massacre.
It came ten days after a mass shooting at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. that claimed the lives of 10 innocent people. It comes 10 years after the infamous Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took the lives of 20 children in Connecticut.
Gun violence overtook car accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the U.S. in 2020, according to a report from the University of Michigan.
In 2022, more children have died in school shootings than police officers in the line of duty.
No matter their opinion on guns, every young person and parent I know is currently living in fear.
Of course, politicians by the boatload spoke out about the need for change and action following yet the latest mass shooting.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut made a powerful speech on the Senate floor following the gruesome act of terror, saying: “What are we doing? Why do you spend all of this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all of the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority? If your answer is, as this slaughter increases and as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing, then what are we doing? Why are you here?! If not to solve a problem as existential as this?!”
Ohio State Senator Nina Turner tweeted a succinct answer to Murphy’s questions: “The issue is money in politics. They’re allowing children to die because of the gun lobby. They’re allowing the planet to die because of Big Oil. They’re allowing people to go without healthcare and die because of the insurance lobby. Inaction is bought.”
Through complacency, our elected officials are also allowing the collective mental health of the country to further implode as we all sit on the internet and lose our minds, screaming at each other as we fight over their inaction.
And it’s ironic, because then those same politicians will turn around and say that we have a mental health crisis and that’s the root of all our problems. And then they’ll cut funding for mental health services.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott cut $211 million from the department that oversees the state’s mental health programs last month according to NBC.
According to a recent Washington Post Article, 19 Republican senators have taken at least $1 million each in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over their careers, according to data compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in 2019. And many more have taken some kind of funding from the NRA; it is hard to track exactly how much, as the NRA’s influence is often concealed through PAC’s and independent contributions.
But this isn’t just an NRA issue or a Republican issue. Our entire government has been infected by corporate influence, rendering most of our politicians mere pawns instead of independently-thinking representatives.
This has led to complacency and gridlock, and it will be the root cause of our democracy’s collapse if nothing changes.
The solution to the problem of corporate influence is not to elect billionaires who can independently finance their own campaigns, but instead to challenge the laws that allow big money to dominate our politics to begin with. Overturning the Citizens United ruling from 2010 would be a good place to start.
Regulating guns is not going to completely and miraculously fix the problem of mass shootings in this country, but it’s a no-brainer place to start.
In the meantime, people are dying.
And not just people, but children – children are dying in vain because of greed-driven complacency from men and women desperate to gain footing with the corporations that fund their careers, who would rather brush aside their humanity than give up their endorsements.