All the news media regarding the shooting, and the salacious drama endlessly paraded by pundits, really misses the point. Jared wasn’t alone, and isn’t alone. Not in Arizona, and not in the world. He merely chose to do something that would make him internationally known; most merely turn their rage and hopelessness on themselves or their families.
Some people simply don’t want to work, want the system to support them, and will do whatever it takes to manipulate the welfare system into supporting them. These are not the people I am speaking of, nor do I wish to speak of them now. They are another entity entirely.
I’ve blogged before about the crisis here in Arizona regarding psychiatric services and how that affects delivery of service via the emergency room. I’ve explained about ‘psych holds’ and how they often spend days awaiting transfer to a psych facility. Some of these are people already in the ‘system’ so to speak, who are clients of the contracted psychiatric services but many are new. They were surviving, hanging on, until the economic crisis and stresses of it pushed them over the edge. They lose their jobs then their marriages; a consequence of being a citizen of Arizona is that often there is no other family within five hundred miles, so the loss of spousal support means the loss of the only emotional support available. These people are used to taking care of themselves. The idea of needing help is foreign, and they don’t know how to navigate the system to get any sort of assistance, whether health care or psychiatric care. In the end they simply punish themselves for their own failure to ‘beat’ the system.
Another new thing is that domestic violence seems to be getting more violent; I could be wrong but it seems to me that we are seeing more cases of extreme violence coming to the emergency rooms (and morgues) as traumas — gunshot wounds, stabbings, beatings not just with fists but with bats. This too I attribute to the stresses of our present economic situation.
So what does that have to do with Jared? Well, a lot, actually. While I detest the thought of giving him any more notoriety, he is a symbol of what’s happening. He is intelligent, perhaps beyond average. He is well read and reads literature that provokes independent thought. He challenges the ideas thrust upon us by media regarding the proper ways to think, behave, eat, consume. He appears to have been a sensitive individual who did not have the emotional reserves to simply hunker down and try to fit in, to prostitute his psyche in exchange for a job and a paycheck. He sees that the system is dreadfully broken. All this is common to many of the people who come to the emergency room in emotional crisis. They are perhaps less articulate than he was, but they share the same despair and frustration. They simply turned it on themselves rather than others, and so remain invisible to our society at large; indeed, they may have even further damaged their chances at ‘beating’ the system because our society frowns on emotional weakness, which is still how psychiatric diagnoses are viewed, as though they are personal failings, and therefore are less likely to get a chance to get a leg up.
It is a measure of the broken-ness of our society that unmannered and violent yet attractive young women from New Jersey, with far too much money and far too little common sense, education, and decorum, are touted as models for our young people. It is a measure of our broken-ness that Justin Bieber is a model for young people. In some ways I am reminded of Galadriel in Tolkein’s saga. When Frodo offers her the ring of power, she considers the offer and what she will become. She says that all will look on her beauty; they will love her and despair. Perhaps the dedicated watchers of the New Jersey girls look on them and despair in the same way.
Beware, though. Those that watch are also learning valuable lessons on how to break the rules to get what they want. As people become more cognizant of the fact that what our society has fed them regarding their chances to make it big is nothing but lies, they’ll be less and less afraid to act out. And in a world of twitter and facebook, they’ll not all turn it in.