Monday, August 17, 2009

What the world needs more of

The recent trend towards more interactive authorship on the web (wikis, YouTube, etc.) seems to offer a fascinating glimpse into the minds of "regular people." In particular, the comments sections on news sites are great for the subject matter of this blog. While not at all scientific, I find them quite useful in broadening my understanding of how people see the world.

I could devote pages to the fascinatingly mean-spirited comments that can be found on these sites (and the irony of all the armchair psychiatrists spewing vitriol at the jerks who are clearly to blame), but today I want to share a few that really inspired me.

There was a story this morning about a man in Washington who was shot dead while brandishing a gun at hospital staff. He'd been brought there because of head trauma, and although he had been peacefully disarmed of two of his handguns, he ended up producing a third and threatening a nurse with it. A police officer shot and killed him during the confrontation, and thankfully nobody else was injured.

Amidst the usual slew of cruel judgements we find these (emphasis mine):
Joseph Burkett was my dearly beloved, but troubled, nephew. The messages I've read so far on here have been so judgemental and cruel. He was mentally ill and in need of his medication. I DO understand that poeople will judge him harshly, but he was such a wonderful person when he was himself. I'm grateful no one else was injured, but so saddened that our Joey had to be taken from us in this manner. The police officer was just doing his duty . . .no blame there. Joey was such a lovely child and young man, but drugs and alcohol had taken it's toll. He is at peace now, thank God

As Joe's cousin, we are saddened by what happened. Of course no one know's him the way we did. He had mental illness and while we aren't defending what he did, it played a huge role in this. We are thankful the officer involved went home safely to his family and that innocent people we not killed or harmed, we do realize though that the officer will have to bear the scar of this his entire life. We loved Joe. Help was sought for him repeatedly but proved unhelpful. After someone feels "normal" with their meds they frequently stop taking them feeling they are well. My aunt is a wonderful person and my heart breaks for her and his siblings. This has been huge blow to our family.

This man was my cousin and before you people start going crazy you all should know there is WAY more to this. I am so very thankful that he didn't kill anyone and that the officer could go home to his family. I loved my cousin but he did have a mental illness and was heavily into alcohol and drugs, mixed with his mental illness wasn't a good thing. My Aunt tried very hard to help him, she was even there when all this happend. My heart goes at to her. I do not agree with what he did nor am I protecting anything. He was fine and then just snapped, we dont know what happend or why he did what he did. All I can say is thank you to the officer and I am glad that you are able to be home with your family.
These accounts do something that couldn't be accomplished even if the story's author had done due diligence in reporting on the man's mental illness. They're a striking testament to how difficult this situation really must have been, given the incredible compassion of his loved ones.

If only such accounts were more prominent in the media...

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