This week as I perused the news stories that are highlighted on various sites, I was struck by a lot of human interest stories, and a few “biggies” that got me thinking. How many of them were really noticed by the general public. What catches our eye and holds it? I admit, I get so mired down in the political news that I barely read it anymore. I check for general political updates/trends (polls), or the big ones that get splashed all over the place (Mitt, do you see that little camera? Or was that plastic plant just too distracting?), but then I scan the rest. I read a lot of blogs, and I find out a surprising amount about what’s happening in farther corners of the world from that community. A lot of it doesn’t seem to make the big headlines here. These are some of the stories that grabbed me this week, and stuck in my head.
I’m gonna start with Hoffa. That’s right, who? Jimmy Hoffa. If you’re a certain age, then you certainly know the name; if you’re younger this means nothing. Some of us know that he was a mobster, who vanished. But what else do you really know, and do you care? That’s what I kept wondering as all the major news sources carried an update in the nearly 40 year old case. Apparently he
probably isn’t may be buried under a sidewalk in Michigan. While CNN insisted that Jimmy still fascinates after all this time, I wondered why. He was a criminal; he apparently did a lot of very bad things, and he disappeared. There is little doubt he is dead, and they don’t know where his body is. So what? This is what comes of very bad people doing bad things, and I don’t get why the government and crime agencies continue to spend enormous amounts of money to dig up locations and find his remains. I especially find it troubling that in the stories I read, investigators admit that they doubted that they’d find anything or that the “new tip” was credible… So why all the digging? Why all the spending? Do we really need to find this man’s body? Would it serve any purpose other than closure for his family? I dont’ think so. Could that money be used for so many other things… like say: education, crime victims/prevention, feeding the hungry, a thousand other things? But Jimmy Hoffa was in the news this week anyway.
The tales of two teens were in the news. Both of these kids felt hopeless. In both of these stories there was bullying occurring or implied, but with extremely different outcomes. Their stories both touched me deeply and then stuck in my head all week. About a year ago, there seemed to be a rash of teen suicides with a focus on homosexuality, or sexual identity. Gay teens were committing suicide, after being bullied or publicly humiliated and it seemed that there was a cluster of headlines last fall. I wrote Call Me Gay, Call Me A Fag after one too many of those stories had me sleepless, tearful and feeling hopeless, that our society still doesn’t get it, and young kids are losing their lives because of it. A year later, it’s been reported that suicide now tops automobile crashes as the leading cause of injury-related death, with young people very high in those statistics. We are all very accustomed to telling our kids that the number one cause of death is car accidents, Drive safely honey. How often do we talk about suicide? Each time I read one of these stories, I feel such a clenching in my heart, a racing in my head… to imagine the families of these kids and the horrible fear, hopelessness, immaturity (because with time, most of us do see things differently) and desperation that led each of them to think that death was really a better solution. These two stories end very differently, and that’s what really struck me. If only more kids could see what Whitney Kropp learned, and come out on the other side with a new sense of: hope and faith, in life, in friendship, in the knowledge that It Does Get Better, that suicide is never the answer…), wouldn’t the news be better. For Cade Poulos, there will be no chance to see that things can change. Sadly, hings turned out very differently for him. Both of these kids were in my thoughts this week, but you may have missed their stories. (Click their names to read their stories.) Check out the Facebook page that was started to support Whitney Kropps, and which has become a magnet for other bullied kids. I believe that the fact that bullying has become so pervasive, and that so many kids have lost their lives to it, is truly a blight on our entire society.
Also in the news: more young people doing really dumb things, with horrible consequences. Maybe it’s because I trained as therapist specializing in kids and teens, maybe it’s because I’m a mother who has three teens/young adults, maybe because my bleeding heart just gravitates to theses stories, but I noticed way too many stories recently about young people doing crazy things to get a rush, to get high, to prove something… and dying. It’s unbearable: the horrific loss of your child for a few minutes of immature foolishness. Oh, to stop time and rewind. The what ifs, the whys, the loss forever. As in the suicides, above, these circumstances leave such enormous walls of grief… Hard not to read the stories and breath in deeply: that it is not your child, and exhale: knowing there but for the grace… Each of these kids seems to have been “good kids,” who made critically bad decisions, and lost their lives. It’s not a new; kids have been dying from accidental over-doses, alcohol poisoning, hazing, thrill seeking for as long as there have been teens. But the ante seems to just keep upping. In the case of Alexander Broughton, drinking was taken to a shocking new level with the use of alcohol enemas. I found the very idea that a bunch of kids believe using enemas in public, is an acceptable way to get drunk, so beyond me that the story packed many emotional punches. I’ll spare the details; I believe most people know what an enema entails. But really? This is fun? A bunch of guys in a frat thought this was a good idea? In the case of David Nuno, a “freak accident,” which resulted while playing another thrill “game,” lead to the death of this 15 year old boy. The “pass out game” (David used method 2) is one more thing for parents to watch out for… And that’s impossible folks! If kids want to do these things (things they too often find on YouTube!), they will! The best we can do is talk about these things and hope our kids listen. The horror for David’s father: who witnessed his son’s death, the true helplessness of all involved, once things went awry, is unimaginable. A friend of David’s said: “It was his choice,” as if to make it all seem somehow explainable. No dear boy, it was not his choice. He was a child, like you, and he made an impulsive, foolish decision, and he has died. Think about that. His brain cells had not developed enough to know that the outcome could be so tragically final; he was just having fun. The idea that the need for a thrill, the brief moments of foolish thinking, ended all that might have been for these two young men (and countless others each year) is every parent’s worst nightmare, and a very sad commentary on youth. As one of David’s friends noted, ‘this moment of poor decision making shouldn’t be the only way that he is remembered,’ but sadly, both young men that is the inevitable legacy they leave behind.
Crazy rioting and police brutality in Madrid, Spain was in the news this week. You didn’t see it? Really? Well maybe because it was pretty much invisible in U.S. news coverage, despite incredible clashes between citizens and police. Even as YouTube was full of videos, some proclaiming that “Europe was falling,” I did not see it on any of our major news sources. A blogging friend Pink Agendist has become a remarkable source for the entire event, as it’s been unfolding. He lives in Spain, he has reason to care, but so should we all. In his initial post, he explained what was happening and shared a truly remarkable video that was taken as things dissolved several nights ago. That post is well worth reading, then check out Pink’s other updates. What is happening there is shocking and is sure to be in the news in the weeks ahead.
A bat crazy dad in Hong Kong is offering $64 million to any man who will marry his gay daughter. That’s right, Gigi Chao’s father is willing to pay to see her married and made “normal.” That she is an incredibly articulate, beautiful and clearly well educated young woman was extra amusing to me. That her father is doing this, is “amusing” to Gigi. I suppose it’s fun news, but man this world is upside down when this is bigger news than the problems in Spain. By the way, Gigi is already married… to her gay partner… Though, you guessed it, gay marriage is not legal in China
either. Surprise, surprise.
Pfc Isaac Lawrence Young, 22, was killed this week. He was drinking and watching football with two other soldiers, when he go the hiccups. His buddy thought that a good way to stop them was to scare him… with a gun. The gun discharged, shooting Young in the face and killing him. Horrible story, on all levels. Very young man, serving his country, dead… under ridiculous circumstances. However, it’s hard to find the statistic of how many soldiers died in combat. The total number of US Military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the eleven (11) years of combat topped 2,000 this week, it was reported today. Their faces are rarely seen in the news, but the Washington Post has done just that in Faces of the Fallen. And few people know that suicide is the leading cause of death in our soldiers, currently at one per day. But in the news last week, a soldier killed another young soldier, to cure his hiccups.
Update this morning in the Hoffa story– Soil studies may be available later today, to say whether a body was in fact buried under that sidewalk in Michigan. There were no remains. Gee, 40 years later, go figure. But results will not tell us if it was Hoffa! Kaching! Kaching! Suicide prevention in the military, benefits for soldiers, books for schools…?
There were a lot of these stories. Maybe you missed them because they didn’t interest you. Maybe they were buried under bigger headlines. They caught my eye, and kept me thinking. I believe we should all be thinking a lot more about bullying and the consequences. We should be thinking a lot more about teen suicide and the depression and suicide rates amongst those who serve in the military. It’s great to wave flags and say that we support our troupes when they’re in harm’s way, but what if harm’s way is when they get home? In their troubled minds? We should probably be looking at what’s happening in Europe, because it’s bound to bite us in the ass sooner or later. News is what other decide we should care about… and that’s what we’re given. Unless we read further.
Breaking news! I am proud to announce the release of Tangerine Tango, Women Writers Share Slices of Life, now available on Amazon and Create Space. This is a wonderful collection of stories about parents and parenting, letting go and moving on, food, faith and fun. The stories range from sad or nostalgic to humorous and uplifting. Lisa Winkler has put together bloggers from various backgrounds and I am honored to be included. All proceeds from books purchased off of Amazon or Create Space (only) will go to charity: The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), an organization near and dear to me and my family. We hope to have it available on Kindle and Nook soon, as well.
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