Tahlequah Daily Press

January 10, 2013

Time to talk safety


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

This is in response to a letter from Ed Brocksmith that appeared in the Dec. 19, 2012 edition, regarding the mass school shooting in Connecticut.

While understanding that Ed and I may be from different planets (?), I take this opportunity to respectfully disagree with his opinion. Ed is an important and respected leader in this community, so I am surprised that he, in any way, connects the violence of the tragedy to “our desire to uplift young women and girls in our schools and society.” I resent the implication that the level of violence in our society is somehow related to an improved status of women and girls. Seriously? Really?

I do agree there is not enough attention, services, or funding allocated to mental health, and this may be a principle factor in the rise of violence in our society.  However, it is not the lack of services or feminism that prevents males from accessing help, but it may be their own macho culture that holds them back. It is generally accepted that “real” men don’t go to therapy (especially real men who hunt and are gun enthusiasts); after all, therapy is for “pansies.” We raise our men and boys to be on their own when it comes to emotional upset, mental illness and addiction; we offer them no way out when they are in crisis. Maybe it is this attitude we need to examine and change.

Accessing mental health services for any person, male or female, is difficult, and there is a limit to the amount of services that can be provided. It is far easier to buy a gun. So, I have to ask, “What is wrong with this picture?” Funding for mental health services has steadily declined since the ‘80s, leaving nonprofits to struggle with demand. This leaves many communities without adequate crisis intervention and mental health services. By the way, Ed, it is our predominately male legislative bodies that continue to cut funding for these lifesaving services. So rather than blame women for this crazy situation, let’s lead our communities to overcome the collective denial about the role of mental health services and seriously examine our gun-loving, macho-man ways. The life you save may be your own.

And for the record, anyone who knows me well can report that I am also a gun-toting Okie, raised by my daddy to have respect for the operation and power of firearms. But as a mother of a precious daughter and a son, I cannot believe that assault weapons in the hands of civilians have any purpose in a civil society. When going to elementary school becomes an act of bravery, we must look at the causes – the real cause.

Our president is right: It is time to engage in a national conversation about the overwhelming health and safety issues in our communities. We must act to create thoughtful and meaningful change in our way of life to stop the violence and save our children. I am thinking now is a good time.

Pam Moore