My life is a daily battle against pessimism. This is not because I’ve had it that hard–in fact, I’ve probably had it easier and have been luckier than most people on this planet. It’s simply because my mind has a natural tendency to move in that direction, to sink into negativity and worry. This means it’s a constant, moment by moment, day by day effort to refocus myself on positive actions and thoughts. Frequently, this effort fails, and then I get back up and start over.

That’s why if I come to you because I’m sad and depressed, it really doesn’t help to tell me to “think positive!” or “choose to be happy!” Because chances are, I’ve already been working on that. I’ve been trying and trying and trying to do that, and it’s likely that by the time I’m coming to you for help, I’m ready to give up. So just give me a sympathetic listening ear. Let me talk about how I feel for a while. It will be a relief for me, and then I’ll be ready to go back to fighting my mind again.

It’s been a nice change to hear depression and mental illness discussed so openly and matter of factly over the past couple of days. It’s sad that it took the death of a wonderful and creative person for us to get here. But this might be a good first step to understanding that there are real ways to treat and address these problems–and that it’s not enough to tell people to smile.

Ironically, right after I posted my gun conspiracy blog, we had our very own local school shooting here in the Portland metro area.  A high school freshman who was armed to the teeth entered Reynolds High School in Troutdale, OR, killed a fellow student and wounded a teacher and then, once he realized police were entering the school, shot himself.

What scared me just as much as the event itself was my reaction to it.  I held my breath in horror as I listened to the breaking news coming in on my radio at work.  But then, as I learned the extent of the shooting, I breathed a sigh of relief.  “Oh good.  Only two people dead.”  I caught my own reaction and was horrified all over again.  This is how used I’ve become to a world of spectacular acts of violence.  I expect to hear of 20, 30 dead–otherwise it’s not as big of a deal.  These are two individuals gone, one because of a random attack, the other seemingly because of mental illness.  Their families are grieving, the teenage boys won’t get a future, but hey, this was only a “small” shooting.

I can’t say that I really have good answers to any of the questions here.  Guns are a part of the problem, but only one part.  Clearly something inside of the kids leads them to feel that taking multiple lives is an acceptable response to the situation they’re in.  Something is broken there, but I don’t know how it can be fixed.  But regardless of what we think the solution is, the one thing I do know is that we cannot allow ourselves to get used to these shootings.  We can’t let them become a normal part of our daily life–although perhaps we already have.

A scary story in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where a loaded gun was found sitting in a box in the toy aisle of a Target store.  The police report states that a suspicious man was stalking up and down the aisles of the store, and he was likely the one who left the weapon behind.  The Myrtle Beach police are currently seeking the last registered owner of the gun for questioning.

This story has now started making the rounds on social media, and naturally, the blame is being placed on…those who support gun control.  Yep.  The reposts of the story are filled with outrage about how low the “gun control fanatics” will stoop.  Because, you know, it’s obvious that the gun was planted on purpose so that a child would shoot itself or someone else, and so that guns could be blamed and more oppressive gun restrictions could be passed.

I can think of a lot of reasons why a mentally unbalanced or criminal person might leave a gun in that store.  Most likely, the gun was stolen, and this was a convenient place to try to hide it, since it would blend in with the toy guns.  The Target worker who found the gun stated that he did not realize it was a real gun until closer examination, so this makes sense.  Or perhaps there was mental illness involved, the sort of mental illness that would consider this a fun prank or a satisfying way to find revenge against humankind.

But once you start saying that a pro-gun control person left it there on purpose, you start veering into conspiracy theory territory.  And once you veer into the territory of strange theories, you have to offer evidence that what you’re talking about might be true.  So far there is no proof whatsoever of the “gun control fanatics!!!” side of the story.  And the people I know who support gun control want less gun violence, not more, so they would never resort to these kinds of tactics.  It will be interesting to see what emerges from this incident.