The news needs to pay attention

I decided to go to the gym yesterday at a time that the March for our Lives was taking place in  Washington and elsewhere across the country. I was on the treadmill when the young people were taking the stage. I read their words on closed captioning. It was an amazing sight.  My generation sought tremendous social change and I am proud to see a new generation dissatisfied with the status quo.  During the 50s and 60s I never feared for my life in school. No one came our schools with guns and opened fire. I never thought that those I disagreed with would try to kill me. But now with Facebook, computers, social media, all kinds of new technology, come higher tech weapons and more people with anger and vengeance on their minds. We need news media to report truthfully what is happening or get out of the way. We need to keep changing the times. It is once again a time for hope and change.

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struggling

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I am struggling. I thought I had found some answers for my foot problems by getting new orthopedic shoes from the VA on Friday. But today my feet were as painful as ever and I did not put on the shoes. I also was hit with some potentially devastating personal news that may or may not be true. I will have to wait for about a month to find out. I have cried a few times and tried listening to music. Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel mostly. Meanwhile I received confirmation that a fitbit is on the way as a reward from my insurance app. I have been earning points for exercise and the new shoes were going to help me. I made 11,000 steps Friday. I had noticed that my pattern had been to go all out for a few days and then be practically inert. I am hoping to become more consistent. But the wild card is what will happen with this personal news.

Farewell, old friends

black women friends

A friend is feeling sad these days because of the loss of her long time companions. People who know you from 30 or more years ago are really special. The people who were there through different hair colors, relationships, songs, concerts, having children and having grandchildren and stuff in between. The ones who you could tell anything. People who know what to bring and what not to say.

We meet these people at a certain stage, maybe when we have just arrived in the city and are wondering what will happen. Or maybe we meet them when they move into our neighborhood at a potluck and ask, who made that dish. And before weknow it we are sitting down and talking together.

A lot of this is theory for me because I have difficulty maintaining close friendships. I remember an old girl friend asking me about who were my close friends and not being able to figure that out. But for people who do remain close over a long time, letting go is so painful. But at some point our bodies give way. It can be sudden, in an accident or it could be the gradual wearing away due to diseases. And then there is sadness.

You will always have those many years of memories but you won’t always have those friends. This is the circle of life. Farewell, old friends. Know that you are loved and will be in one another’s dreams.

 

Old Friends

by Simon and Garfunkel, who ironically, were not friends

Old friends, old friends,
Sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears

Why did his son kill himself

I have been reading facebook posts promoting suicide prevention and talking about the need to look after one another. The need to offer support, empathy and resources. But there are so many places where vulnerable are most at risk.

Youths are at risk, people in mental hospitals are at even more risk and the most at risk of violence are in prison. I just read a story in the New Yorker about the story of a young man in the New York state prison system whose father was preparing to send of him a care package only to discover he had been buried 6 weeks earlier. The article by Jennifer Gonnerman, told how Lonnie Hamilton II learned that his son had died on March 18, 2016 when he went to the prison website. His son, Lonnie Hamilton III, had hung himself after becoming increasingly depressed in the Marcy Correctional Facility.

This is a story about an involved father who worked long hours to provide for his children only to lose one of them to crime and seeing his son torn away from the community. It is a story about failure to notify the next of kin about what was happening. There were signs especially self mutilation that should have set off a thousand alarm bells. I don’t think that the prison tried everything possible to assist Lonnie.

These kinds of tragedies happen all too often. I don’t think the prison was set up to meet the needs of a deeply troubled African American young man so he became a casualty. This is a cry for help, action and a replacement for the deconstruction. I would hate for this to happen to one of my nephews and hope people will use these stories

Are you excited about the end times yet?

I  have heard that there are Christian evangelicals who thinking about the so-called end times in which there will be a major battle between Christians and Muslims. When I worked for a progressive agency years ago one of my coworkers discussed this idea. I was scared and repulsed by the idea.

In a fight between two religious beliefs I would choose neither one. I’m not surprised that the so-called Islamic State is drawing on the idea of the big war between Christian and Muslim forces in their version of an end times. Humans, for your own sake, you must choose neither. Atheists don’t start wars and we don’t enjoy blowing ourselves to bits.

 

Is terror a bigger horror than imperialism?

I have been consumed with the horror of the destruction in Paris on Friday. And yet many of my progressive friends and various Africa news sites remind us of the ongoing relationship between France and its former African colonies.

Benin
Burkina Faso
Guinea
Ivory Coast
Mali
Niger
Senegal
Togo
Cameroon
Central African Republic
Chad
Congo-Brazzaville
Equatorial Guinea
Gabon

Due to a series of unequal relationships these countries are independent in name only. When we ask ourselves, why are African countries experiencing poverty and instability, we must look at the roots stemming back to the horrendous scramble for Africa in the late 1800s.

There was a book written called Not Yet Uhuru about the struggle for freedom in Kenya after independent from England. The title applies to most of these countries. And if the horrors of colonialism weren’t enough, radical Islamic groups are carrying out bombings. Africa must be free from imperialism and religious fanaticism. As we help the people of France to heal, they must recognize their duty to remove the yoke of neo-colonialism I am hopeful that a new generation of African leaders will emerge to help make independence a reality.

The new asylums

The second story in the Pro Publica series on the best reporting on mental health in prison was called The New Asylums. It examined the dilemma facing corrections official in Ohio, considered a model for treatment of mentally ill prisoners. People like me who work in mental health know that the prisons prove most of the mental health care in America.The New Asylums followed a group of prisoners up and down the mental health ladder.

One salient fact is that due to conduct violations n prison, it is common to serve far longer than the stated prison terms mandated by the courts. thus, one could be imprisoned for many years on relatively minor crimes due to behavior issues related to one’s state of mental health.

Do not expect a lot of person first language in the video. Most of the men who were interviewed had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  They were labeled as “schizophrenics in the narration. iIt was jarring to view often articulate men talking about their hopes for recovery juxtaposed with pictures of them being being tackled by squads of SWAT type guards trained to enforce rules. An angry, naked man attempts to resist authority and receives the full force of the prison authority.He may face the same terror up and down the corrections system resisting less restrictive prison environments and going all the way up to maximum security. There was also a hospital attached to the prison when mentally ill prisoners were referred to help them with conduct adjustment.

People would be offered supports that helped clear their minds enough to be able to transfer them back to the general population. All of them men eventually were granted parole and every single one returned shortly afterward for another violation. Will the circle be unbroken? One man facing parole said that he hoped to be locked up for the rest of his life because the thought of living in a less restrictive environment terrified him.

What do you feel about this cycle of temporary recovery, stabilization, breakdown and re-incarceration? write your responses below.