Saturday, December 15, 2012

On An....Open Fire

I sit with my computer on my lap in a coffee shop on the Northwest side of town. This is not my neighborhood, but it is a small independent little place with a good selection of baked goods on the healthy side and great internet service. It's a crowded rainy Saturday morning. All ages come and go. Some with dogs, some with laptops, some overdressed, some underdressed. The noise gets progressively louder as more and more people begin this weekend a couple of weeks from Christmas day. As expected, the recent shootings, both here in Oregon, and in Connecticut are on people's minds. I pick up bits of conversation. People don't dwell on the topic. Some seem much more interested in gossiping about mutual friends, planned ski vacations, and the faltering, sputtering, it's up/it's down economy. I imaging property values and taxes are a common topic in this neck of the woods.
From what I can tell, the prevalent feeling is that these overarmed, masked 20 somethings commit these atrocious acts of violence in an attempt to be recognized. To go out with a bang, one well meaning pundit suggests. Then I hear the C word...crazy. Yup, crazy behavior it is, but nobody talks about mental health. Do they fathom that these militarized, violent young people are in pain, are in fact suffering. Odd as that may sound, like many, I'm coming to believe we will continue to endure these awful, gut wrenching events until we adequately deal with mental illness and the conditions that foster it. The coffee shop is really rockin' now. The line at the counter deters some who enter but haven't the time to wait it out. And in the background, weaving in and out of the highs and lows in the conversation pitch we hear the sounds of Christmas. The door opens and closes. Wisps of cold damp air roll in and out. Johnny Mathis spreads good cheer. Andy Williams welcomes the most "wonderful time of the year," and people walking by carry small packages with colorful ribbons adorning them.

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