The Broken and Damaged
America is filled with broken and damaged people, ranging from the mentally ill who are locked away in prisons, to the homeless, to soldiers with PTSD, to the upper class. Everyone in this country is broken and damaged in one way or another, how will you mend us?
Dear Mr/Ms. President,
I recently read a story about a man with schizophrenia who was locked in solitary confinement for 13 years before he committed suicide. The man stabbed both his eyes out with a pencil and died in his cell alone. Why was he locked there in the first place? He was a danger to society, not only due to the crimes he presumably committed but due to his apparent illness. As a society, we do not know how to handle the mentally sick. So what do we do with them? We let them rot. For a while, we sent them to institutions to be “treated”, however, over 90% of those patients reside elsewhere. They now reside under a bridge, behind bars, or six feet under the ground. They are broken and damaged, but who is helping them? Are they not your broken people? Is it not your responsibility to mend them?
Some cannot help their dire circumstances. They are born into a broken and damaged existence, burdened by the actions of those who came before them. They are broken by default, they know nothing but a hopelessly fragmented lifestyle, but why is that the case? These fragile creatures are bound to their societal station. They are not strong enough to escape from the neighborhood that sends chills up your spine at the peak of day. We classify their instability as an inconvenience to us, such as a pebble is an inconvenience to the river that flows over it. The river, however, does not even know of the pebbles existence. After all, the big man does not see the damage he inflicts on those beneath his view. He is not responsible for the lives of those who do not concern him. If he is not, then who is? Who is responsible for the increasing number of rape victims and mentally ill in America? A man can feel a small pit in his greedy belly while he watches the news as he walks past the front desk of the office, but he will not act to make a difference. This epidemic does not concern him. He buys bigger jackets when his get too snug for comfort, he likes his steak medium rare with bleu cheese crumbles on the top, he has season tickets to watch a sports team he doesn’t care about. But deep down, he too is broken and damaged. He has the world, but he is lonely and insecure. His bank account is growing exponentially, but he has forgotten how to love. He does not know that wealth cannot buy him leisure or freedom, he does not know that he has allowed the simplicity of his character to be broken by his desires of money, power, and praise. The world revolves around his axis and he designs it to best suit his needs. You cannot blame him, he does not know he has become a helpless fool, a superficially defective piece of a misshapen puzzle. Although he has chosen not to reveal his weaknesses and insecurities, he too is broken and damaged.
As a Michigan resident, I admit that I feel uneasy when I walk the streets of Detroit or Pontiac. I avoid eye contact with the beggars and the homeless, paralyzed with the realization that I do not have any money to give them. I look around me and notice those around me doing the same, ignoring them as if they do not exist. Why is it like this? Why were we raised to think these people were dangerous? Are they not human just like you and I? Why are we taught to be ignorant of others pain? There is a learned stigma against the broken. They come from all over, every nook and cranny of this world. Like us, they suffer from broken hearts, broken spirits, and broken homes. They reside in limp boxes and in orphanages and shelters. How did they get to this point, and why did we let them? Man turns a blind eye to any suffering except his own. Few men can honestly say they have helped the broken, actually helped them. This is due to man’s uncertainty of how to react to a situation which is the opposite extreme of their daily life. We as humans are quick to judge them, assuming they are on the streets through drug or alcohol abuse, but they are just broken people like you and I. How are we certain that we will not one day join them?
It is no secret that post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers is rapidly rising as more and more soldiers are being pushed to the breaking point after war. You send these men, you call the shots, you are responsible for what happens to them, are you not? These soldiers fight for your needs and return home broken and dismantled. But what are you doing for them? They reside with the mentally unstable behind bars or six feet under. There is a lack of care for these people who return to you broken, they suffer the consequences of your actions and are driven to the brink of insanity while you continue to make important phone calls. There has been talk of plans to improve the quality of their care and increase the amount of resources at their disposal, but words only mean so much. What will you do to help the broken and damaged? American transcendentalist and poet Henry David Thoreau theorized that it only takes one honest man to spark a revolution, so my question to you is: will you be the revolutionary or will you turn a blind eye with the rest of the world? As the big man, you cannot see the full extent of the damage you inflict. You cannot experience the pain felt by the broken mother holding her starving children, the broken man locked away in solitude, the broken child without a father. They are not your concern because you will never be like them, but they exist and they matter. We are all broken and damaged in one way or another, how will you mend us?
Sincerely, Ally Reynolds