I’m ready for the flack and anger I’ll probably get from this post. But it’s something that I need to say.
The world is watching from afar what happened with the massage parlor killing spree this week. Some of us are watching it from up close.
There is no excuse for what happened. None. Those people did not deserve to die and there should be punishment for the horrible loss of life.
But maybe…just maybe…it’s not only the killer who needs the punishment.
Maybe society deserves a little of the punishment.
Everyone is very quick to declare that this was an act of racism. It’s so easy to go there. It truly happens all the time. It is abominable and needs to stop. Quite honestly, it needs to stop on all levels, though. Our society didn’t see the loss of human life…they IMMEDIATELY saw the race of the lives that were lost. They IMMEDIATELY decided race was the issue. So much so that they ignored what the man, himself, said.
Again…I’m watching this from nearby. I do not know the man, but I do know a little about the story.
From what I understand, he truly was sick. He truly sought help. He truly…was ignored. Does that excuse his actions? Nope. Not even a little bit. But it also puts the blame on us as a society.
Mental health is constantly ignored. We all cry for mental health awareness, but we simultaneously ignore those who need it. We blame anxiety on being dramatic. We avoid those who are depressed as their sadness makes us feel uncomfortable and useless. We blame addicts for their addictions and we judge those who are different from us. We’re the first to cry out after they have taken a life, even their own…but we are the last to sit with them at their sick beds.
I say this as I have been consistently thinking about something my own therapist told me one day in regards to my mother. While it’s not safe for me to be near her, I need to try not to let anger take me over…because she is sick. Expecting someone with her level of mental illness to NOT do sick things is akin to expecting someone with cancer to not be sick.
Now, my mother doesn’t want help. But many people who fight the battle of mental illness do. And we ignore them. We judge them. Society fails them.
And then we’re angry when then sick person does sick things.
Again, I’m horrified by what happens and the killer DOES need to be punished. There is no excuse for the taking of human lives.
But there is also no excuse for ignoring the cries for help that generally lead up to it.
And, quite honestly, there is no excuse for turning every battle into one of racism. Asian Americans HAVE been targeted, especially in the past year, with hate crimes and racism. IT NEEDS TO STOP. But this was not that and actually detracts from that battle. Insisting that something was racially motivated, despite evidence to the contrary, detracts from the fight against racism and is used to take the blame off of society’s shoulders.
We need to start listening for those cries for help. We need to deal with our own discomfort and prejudices and fear…and we need to hold ourselves responsible for helping our fellow man…BEFORE lives are lost.