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The Dysfunctional State Of This Great Union

I listened to portions of the State of the Union, more so that I would not sound ignorant when asked about it by family and associates.  Turns out, I missed nothing:  the speech was predictable and filled with platitudes, promises and pontificating.

The POTUS threatening to use veto power and executive privilege as well as the almighty pen.  What took him so long to get tough?  Did he really think that he was going to make friends with a group of angry white men who are so incensed as his second election, they can barely see straight for all the jealousy in their eyes.  They spew their venomous hatred in the name of God be that a woman’s right to choose, threatening to sequester the government, stalling on immigration, gay rights and on and on.

You may recall one of our guests from last year, Brent Stewart.  He is a veteran, having proudly served his country who now finds himself homeless.  Why did the administration take so long to address the needs of chronically homeless vets in this country?

According to Slate, there have been over 12,000 deaths since the Newtown slayings.  The following refrain is all too frequent, all too empty:  we mourn, express outrage, try to initiate legislation for tougher gun laws, the NRA in all its misguided power strong arms Congress – many of whom are financially beholden to this group – and the legislation dies before we have even had a chance to mourn the Trayvon Martins of this world.  According to ThinkProgresss.org, some 26 children have died in Florida in Stand Your Ground cases.  When is enough going to be enough?  How many have to die before we seek an end to this senseless violence?  Being from England, I am a relative stranger to gun violence and the police or “bobbies” as we like to call them, don’t generally carry guns.

The irony of this is that so often in mass shootings and suicides, the individuals who perpetuate these crimes are suffering from debilitating mental illness and have either psychotic breaks, paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or are simply overwhelmingly sad.  They are often not compliant with their medications and the lack of drugs in their system consistently causes erratic behavior.  There needs to be a cohesive and sweeping public awareness campaign vis-à-vis mental illness and how it correlates with mass shootings and/or suicides.  The person perpetrating the crime is clearly in great pain, as evidenced by their desire to injure, maim and/or kill as many individuals as possible.  Generally speaking, that person then turns the gun on themselves, ultimately ending the pain.

I am often asked how I like living in the US – I have been here some 25 years – and more often than not, I find myself saying it is a great country where one can achieve great heights and yet the dichotomies of wealth inequality and stand your ground and mass shootings are causing me to pause and reflect on whether I truly am desirous to live here beyond this year after graduation.

I have often maintained that sports is the unofficial god of this nation.  As I watched the Super Bowl, or excerpts thereof on Sunday, I was reminded that the price for a 30 second ad spot was a staggering $4 million.  My understanding is that Bruno Mars, the entertainer, did not get paid – good for him, but you can bet that others such as my countryman, David Beckham, ran to the bank with their monies.   Some 111.5 million viewers tuned in to see the Denver Broncos get slaughtered by the Seattle SeaHawks.  This was the highest rated TV event of all time.  There was a missed opportunity to air a PSA on mental health awareness, but we squandered it.

The actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose over the weekend.  His lifeless body found in his Greenwich Village apartment, needle still in arm.  The FaceBook feeds were replete with sad fans mourning his premature death and their loss.  It was as though they owned him.  Another gone too soon….Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston – all gone too soon and under drug-related circumstances.  “God bless America and no other country” – I heard that in a movie once.  How appropriate.

About Annette Daley