The debate over issues involving our safety as Americans is in a chaotic frenzy at the moment. Gun control, police brutality, racism, classism, health care, drug use and etc., the list of controversial subject matter goes on and on. The list is nothing new, but the passionate opinion on both sides is drifting further apart leaving little hope for any compromise or resolution.
Yet, the answer to all of the societal issues we face today is so very simple. All lives matter. While such a statement may seem naïve, when we consider the children of our country, those who will be running the show in the near future, perhaps the statement “All lives matter” takes on new meaning.
The rise in number of tragic deaths involving innocent Americans and the police is not necessarily a rise in the number of incidents, but as a result of the easy access to video and instant publication. The important after effect is an increased awareness in how stress, ignorance and undiagnosed mental health challenges are a volatile mix.
We are in a time of transition, a revolution of sorts in which the average American citizen is more free to access information than ever before and can influence others on a scale like never before. This awakening of an informed populace creates an environment of distrust and paranoia to a certain extent. Those who were able to control the people through withholding or distorting information are now forced to operate with transparency. The masses who now have begun to discover the unfortunate corruption that was always rumored to be but left unsubstantiated have lost their trust in the leadership. At the same time the spread of disinformation and deliberate lies have become the 21st Century version of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Some of the more irresponsible media are adding fuel to the fire on a daily basis.
Imagine if we all measured every decision and action by how it will effect a child’s life.
Those Americans who are far removed from the challenges of poverty, mental or physical health issues and the struggles of the working class tend to form opinions and make decisions that are seemingly apathetic. It is more often a case of being ill-informed or blinded by the belief that there is a fire in the theater.
The debate over where our tax dollars should be spent is a necessary and ongoing one that keeps us in check. That being said, if we as a society were to consider that the children of today will be in control tomorrow and that their health and well-being is crucial to our own in the near future, then we might make better decisions. The child living in poverty and chaos may be the teenager with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder later. That PTSD can manifest into severe mental health challenges that lead to unhealthy choices and potentially dangerous behaviors.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says “Youth with unidentified and untreated mental disorders also tragically end up in jails and prisons. According to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health—the largest ever undertaken—an alarming 65 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness.10 We are incarcerating youth living with mental illness, some as young as eight years old, rather than identifying their conditions early and intervening with appropriate treatment.”
When a society values its wealth over its children it is strangling itself. When a society divides its value by race, culture, class or geography it is doomed to failure. Note I said “divides its value,” all societies will have separations, hierarchy and class delineation. It’s when that delineation includes the value of the lives that the structure begins to fail.
All lives matter. Once we are willing to recognize that and build our society on that premise, we can be assured a strong future for America.