The last week has been a pretty crappy one, with regards to violence and the news. Amongst other things, we’ve had the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, USA, and the killing of MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire, England.
In the former case, the shooter was a Muslim and, as usual, the term “Islamic Terrorist” have been thrown around. In the latter case, it was a white guy with far-right sympathies and the media seems torn as to whether to call him a terrorist or not.
There are some that say that if he were dark skinned and had uttered something along the lines of religious rather than nationalistic rhetoric then he’d also have been called a terrorist.
Personally, I think this argument misses the real point.
In both cases, the suspect’s mental health issues are one of the first things that get revealed in the media. As if this explains it all. As if mental illness makes someone a killer.
That’s about as likely as someone’s religious beliefs making them a killer. Or their political beliefs. Or what sports team they support.
Sure, sometimes these can be a contributing factor but I don’t think they’re ever The Main/Only Reason.
But the media loves a scapegoat. The Muslims. The Immigrants. The Mentally Ill. Basically, it’s always blamed on The Other. And all this really does is inspire hatred and fear of The Other. Which is often what will cause the next tragedy.
I can at least say one thing as someone with mental health issues, though. Which brings me to the title of this post. I have a mental health condition.
Having a mental health condition does not automatically make someone a danger to others. Hell, I’d say that my depression and anxiety means that I’m more likely to kill or harm myself than anyone else. And even that isn’t very likely.
And if this is true for one type of “Other”, it can be true of other “Others”, too.
Try to understand those who are different from yourself. It’s not always easy and I know I don’t always get it right. But don’t succumb to hate. Because all that ever does is extend the cycle of tragedy,