Due to an editing error, Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores' Open Mic was transposed with another column. Her correct column is now below. The Bohemian regrets the error.
In the movie “Network,” the prophetic newscaster says: “[You've] got to say, 'I'm a human being, damn it! My life has value!'…I want you to get up right now and go to the window…and yell, ‘I'm mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’”
Here we are, 40 years after this movie opened. Many of us are beyond mad, and beginning to say so. Women are speaking out about harassment. People of color are proclaiming that black lives matter. And teens are taking matters into their own hands, speaking out against gun violence and even running for office themselves.
Since the Parkland shooting, there have been half a dozen threats at local high schools, including my daughter’s. Today, she asked if she should wear a certain pair of chic boots, worried that they were impractical from running away from a potential shooter. Our kids should not be having to worry about such things. How do we engender a sense of trust in our children when the world is so obviously unsafe? How do we protect our community’s kids, still healing from the trauma of the wildfires?
It’s beyond time for commonsense gun laws, as well as stronger gun regulations, and perhaps a community buy-back program and a boycott of gun vendors.
In terms of the president’s idea to address mental health issues, we can start by reinstating the law passed under President Obama making it harder for people with a history of instability to acquire firearms. We can put money into preventive treatment. We can teach our boys that it is manly to express a full range of emotion, not only anger and violence. We can provide mental health coverage as part of a universal health plan and engage in a public health campaign to de-stigmatize seeking treatment. We can adequately fund and staff mental health institutions or even better, develop a system of safe places people can go to “cool off,” to work through issues of grief and trauma with compassionate healers—without being penalized for taking time off work, charged untenable costs or forced into warehouses to medicate rather than to truly heal.
If nothing else in these divided times, we all do share the same humanity and hopefully love for our children. So let’s collectively open the windows of our souls and call out: “We’re mad as hell, and we will not take it anymore!”
Alissa Hirshfeld-Flores, MFT, lives in Santa Rosa.
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.