December 22nd, 2012

Bald Eagle

In and Out!

I've been working hard to again go through a book I began at the beginning of the year, and now, want to finish by the end.  I love the darkness for reflection, and the rain, rain, rain, that we are blessed with these days.  It has been a wet December, and I appreciate that.  It's lovely to sit and look out as darkness turns to light, and light to night.

I am stunned by the news yesterday from the NRA, and stunned that we can't raise by a small percentage the taxes on millionaires.  I don't know where to put that.

While reading Poets & Writers magazine, I learned about Paul Cruchow, who was once described as a contemporary Thoreau. That works for me, so I went to Amazon to look at his books, and there I discovered the perfect book for our times, Letters to a Young Madman, A Memoir by Paul Gruchow.  It is an astonishing look at his struggle with mental illness that led to a successful suicide.  It is also an insightful and sobering look at our mental health care system.   The man is brilliant, and to read this now, to try to understand one who thinks the world would be better off without him or her, is, well, I can't even say how deeply I was affected by this book.  I read it in the night.  It is short essays, often just a paragraph interspersed with quotes from others.  The word count is low; the impact, high.

It doesn't explain what happened in Newtown, but it gives incredible insight into mental illness.

There are so many parts I would like to place here, but perhaps I'll begin with one, a comment on Silence.

The effects of silence accumulate. The silence of one person alone magnifies prayer, meditation, thought, the music of the universe. The silence of two friends is a communion; silence between two enemies cultivates fear and loathing. Silence in a crowd breeds solidarity, anxiety, embarrassment, or laughter, depending upon the circumstances. But the silence of millions is the cornerstone of evil.   - Paul Gruchow
alan - winter bird


Paul Gruchow writes in his book, Letters to a Young Madman, A Memoir, about sanity and insanity.

I see that someone actually investigated and reported what it would cost to put a guard in every CA school: One billion dollars.  $1,000,000,000.  Do I have the zeroes right?  This in a state desperate for money for education.  I realize it won't happen, but I also realize this is where dialogue gets stopped, in the realm of insanity.

Here are two comments by Paul Gruchow on the subject of insanity in this country.  He died in 2004.  What would he say today?

Sanity by Paul Gruchow:

   The United States Supreme Court has decided to let stand a ruling allowing prison officials to forcibly medicate a man in order to make him sane enough to execute. Of course, medications won't make the man sane. There is no known medical cure for insanity. The drugs will merely alleviate the active symptoms of his illness. So the law of the land is that you may not execute a man who is insane unless prison officials drug him into appearing to be sane, in which case his killing may proceed. The state killing, in turn, is motivated by the fact that the man in question killed someone. It is illegal to kill someone. To do so is morally repugnant, unless the state does the killing, in which case it is justified by the need to discourage killing.

Sometimes it is hard, without a program, to tell what's sane and what isn't.  

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