Who’s To Blame?


Is it “suicide” when you take even one person with you?  Or, do we call that “murder? Murder comes in degrees, the worst degree being the one where you plotted and planned it. Compassion for illness that may have caused the incident, is up against compassion for the 150 people who had no choice, some of them children.   I think of all of their hopes and dreams, and their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a man who “wanted to show the world.”  I have compassion for their families. There was a poster I shared from a friend on here the other day about wanting to remember the name of the pilot who tried to stop it, not the one who caused it.  Maybe we need to ask ourselves about fame and what it has done to us . . . that 15 minutes of fame is a worthy ransom for thousands of lives around the globe.

So many questions.

I have been watching, listening and reading about the Germanwings airplane crash.  Like so many of the situations currently facing us in today’s world, there are no quick and easy answers.  We pull apart the reasons we can find, arguing with one another about their validity and in the end, we all go home dissatisfied with the outcome.  Because, the outcome will never be the undoing of what happened.

And the truth is, we all have headaches from trying to understand and make sense of it all.

We want sympathy for the co-pilot who suffered with mental illness.  We make the plane crash about mental illness and argue that too many people suffer silently, afraid to let anyone know, and when someone has to live their life in that kind of pain, they are going to snap.  This one is easy, while pursuing awareness for mental health we neatly place the pilot in another group . . . the one labelled, “not me.”  We can let go some of the responsibility when what happened is about “other people.”  We can be less vigilant in our own lives.

There are people who blame the co-pilot completely, without any compassion for him or his mental illness.  They refuse to be sidetracked.  They need someone to blame and he is the most identifiable target.

Cue the people who then point to the last group and say they are part of the problem that marginalizes people with mental health issues.  They suggest that THIS is the real problem we need to address.

I find myself considering that playing the mental health card in any degree with this tragedy is a paradox.  It deepens the stigma.  If mental health caused this tragedy, isn’t that exactly the fear that makes people leery of it?  Aren’t people afraid that those who are mentally ill could cause them unspeakable harm and therefore should be locked away from all of us to keep us safe?    I am not sure the mental health community benefits from anyone saying mental illness is the cause of unspeakable acts, or that our attitude of fear of them, caused the person to crack.  I would think a stronger message would be to distance themselves.  How many thousands of people suffer with mental illness, AND the burden of having to hide it, and never commit an unspeakable act?

It would seem to me these people are incredibly strong and capable.

The co-pilot seemed to have many issues.  He hid his eyesight difficulties, but what was shared with the airlines, they seemed to handle with compassion.  He did not lose his job.  So I am questioning what reason he had to fear they would not work with him to deal with his mental health issues?  It seems to me that this is a man who had mental health issues, who developed a number of unhealthy coping mechanisms that went unchallenged throughout his life. By that, I mean that it appears that neither his family or friends called him on any of it, in any meaningful way.

The girlfriend knew all of this.  She knew he was mentally ill and suicidal, she still broke up with him without warning anyone when he was so distraught.  Would she have got on a plane he was about to fly?  I assume he, like many people who struggle with mental health, had difficulties throughout his life.  Where were his family and friends when he first considerede a job where he had people’s lives in his hands?  I am not saying that his mental illness precluded him from the jog, I am suggesting that his ineffective habits of dealing with his mental illness are the culprits.

Lots of people have mental illnesses and walk among us perfectly capable of doing their jobs.  They are not putting us at risk.  They either self manage or have support systems in place that aide them.  This man clearly did not.  This is information his friends and family would have known, as well as his doctors.  Where were they?

We have a mentally challenged adult child.  Part of our responsibility to her is to help her understand what she is capable of and help her achieve that, and be happy with her life.  We had to push her not to use her disability to excuse bad behaviour.  It is easy to attribute lousy “coping skills” to the disability, instead of insisting she find another way to cope and guiding her toward those possible practices.   Self harm, particularly self harm that is not blatant and almost always involves others as residual damage, had our full attention.

We can argue that the airline needs to be even more intrusive into their employees lives and that is easy, it means “not our problem.”  We are experts at staying out of not involving ourselves in “drama.”  We have a whole “spiritual” practice that advocates passive acceptance of everyone and everything while we just mediate and drink our goji berry juice.  We’ve deluded ourselves to think this is noble and actually helpful.

As long as there are people victimized by others, or incapable of helping themselves, we don’t have the privilege of leaning back, looking the other way and pronouncing to the world that we feel great.  We don’t get to relax while others are fighting for their lives.

It seems to me this young man was totally focussed on his needs.  He was never capable of the responsibility to ensure the safety of the people in his care, because his needs take precedence.  He will commit suicide if he is disappointed, because people must pay, and they will see that he is somebody.  In this instance, it appears killing all the other people were his exclamation points on that sentiment.

I wonder, had he worked within his actual skill and emotional level, supported and valued, would it have been a different outcome?  Who is to say that this job is prestigious and this is nothing?  Aren’t all jobs just a means of earning money, and aren’t most of them necessary?  How pleasant would it be to work as a doctor if there were no janitors?  And are we not all part of the “society” that determines where we put our focus and value?  Aren’t we all responsible for the idea the purpose of life is to be famous for something?  Haven’t we all contributed to the idea that life is cheap?   Don’t we all shrug off the annoying family member or the person in the office that is a bit odd?   Do we do a damn thing each day to try and change the way things are?

I can’t hear about anymore of these tragedies and get caught up in who is to blame because all roads lead right back to me.  All I can see is that I need to make more of an effort in my own family and community.  I am hoping that perhaps we all can do that, and not get lost in either blame, or some airy fairy forgiving everyone.   There is work to be done here.  We do have to discuss and dissect, listen and learn . . . and then we have to get busy.  All of us.

2 thoughts on “Who’s To Blame?

  1. Pingback: Aria E. Appleford

  2. Pingback: A Different Attitude Towards Work. | Aria E. Appleford

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