LEARNING TO COPE
I just finished reading "Tragic Expectations" (5/23/19). My perspective is as the sister of a homeless, mentally ill drug user and the mother and aunt of three Washington state police officers. Our family struggles with the issues that face the individuals living "their hell," the law enforcement departments trying to follow the letter of the law, the families of all and the general public that is also affected by the growing problem of drug use and mental illness.
While I know we must find more funds to create opportunities for people struggling with mental illness and drug abuse, I also have seen my own sister walk out, twice in six months, from institutions offering a safe place, a warm bed and food and, most importantly, drug intervention and counseling. These institutions cannot keep people in-house without their consent. If they don't want to accept the help (usually due to "rules and expectations"), they just walk out and continue to be a part of the problem.
In talking with other families, I find this to be common. Until we can find ways to get individuals needing help to be more receptive to the "outstretched hand" or keep them "in-house" at these institutions for a period of weeks by law (which I don't ever see happening), we are going to have to cope, any way we can.
Spirit Lake, Idaho
Why this issue, why now? Is a new appreciation for the gift of fatherhood the motivation by mostly male-majority legislatures to address life in the womb? Other serious issues seek legislative attention. American children are being shot at school, a life-and-death issue needing action. Children are living in poverty. And perhaps the biggest threat of all to our children is the rising CO2 level which could make all life unsustainable. Where is the motivation to address these problems? Or perhaps the prevention of abortion is not the main purpose of the bills. Since abortion rates go down when women have health care and contraceptives, why not provide easy access to both? Why is there no move to hold men accountable for the unintended pregnancies they cause? Why criminalize the woman and her doctor? What is motivating legislators to take on this particular issue right now?
Life issues, like abortion and capital punishment, are difficult to legislate. They separate good people because we all value life and feelings run very deep. Very good people who focus on the life of the unborn or the prisoner on death row are made to fear and attack very good people who focus on the life of the mother or the safety of the community. And the reverse is true, resulting in division. It is not a coincidence that there is action on this issue in many states. In addition to bills on abortion, proposals to limit the initiative process appeared in many legislatures this year. Be wary of candidates and officials whose campaign funds come from special interests outside their districts. Question a lawmaker whose motivation is not evident.
Truth matters. Get the news from multiple sources to be informed. Involved citizens and good leaders who respect one another will bring us out of this period of division and hate. Trust and integrity make civil society work. We can encourage leaders who serve the common good. We can replace those who are untrustworthy and hate or vilify others.