Paul Vander Klay
March 24, 2010
The most painful thing was when you said "Treatment was available for Larry but he didnâ€™t want it. Gordon could probably find more sanity through medication, but he doesnâ€™t want it." Many times it is really the stubbornness of brokenness that gets to me>>it's the same as when we need help from God and He offers His mighty hand, and then we reject it.
Larry's and Gordon's not wanting treatment is part of their disease, the paranoia and distrust that often accompanies schizophrenia. I see them as a metaphor for the climate of fear and anger gripping many people in discussions about health care, about the govt.'s attempt to right the financial kayak; a fear that is fueled by a cynicism from conservatives AND liberals who doubt each others' intentions to do what's good.
A common saying here in New Zealand when someone of poor to middle income has need of the health service is "Thank God we don't live in America"! It is good to have been born under a system that gives to all regardless of means without that feeling of 'cold charity'. Our system can only work when the majority of citizens believe in fairness & justice, what is usually called here - A Fair Go. I don't for one minute think N.Z. is anymore Christian than the U.S.A. but we probably have a lot less 'Fat Cat' capitalists' !
First, I would have to say that I admire what you are doing by opening your church doors to the homeless mentally ill. Second, it seems that my generation is responsible for so much of what is wrong in America and that I feel the need to apologize. Going to college in the early 1970s we experimented with hallucinogenics, read books like One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest and Aldous Huxleyâ€™s Doors of Perception and came to the conclusion that mental illness was simply an altered state of consciousness. Schizophrenics like Billy in Nurse Ratchetâ€™s mental ward were simply repressed and in need of freedom and possibly some Freudian psychotherapy. This led to a process of de-institutionalization based on misguided humanitarian impulses and the promise of new psychiatric medications. It became more difficult for families or police to commit seriously mentally ill people to mental hospitals and there was a wholesale dumping of the mentally ill into the community. The Carter administrations answer to the problem was to recommend a huge investment in community mental health centers. The problem was, they were voluntary and simply continued the whole misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. The Reagan administration cut the federal funding for these out-patient clinics and shifted the responsibility to the states. Of course, the states dropped the ball. The result is 47% of the homeless are suffering from some form of mental illness and 56% of those in prison are mentally ill. We need to make commitment by concerned family members easier, we need to treat mental illness rather than incarcerate. We need a modest increase in realistic community mental health treatment alternatives. I have to believe, that were Jesus on earth, He would be praying for the mentally ill and releasing them from demonic bondage. But, of course, we are His hands and feet today. I think we need to take seriously our call to heal the sick and cast out demons as well as create realistic treatment facilities. And we need more Pastors like you who will comfort the homeless and mentally ill.
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