In a world of instant food, instant fame, instant relief from pain and instant relationships, problems without instant solutions run a real danger of remaining insoluble. This is not an original conclusion, of course; everyone from ministers of the church, to ministers of the government and through to those who minister to the ill and dying has railed against the quick fix solution to any problem that most of society expects as their right.
The effect this attitude has had on me, however, is to lead me to be very wary whenever anyone asks my opinion on the reason for the horrendously high rate of male suicide in Australia. I do not use the term “horrendously high” as hyperbolic purple prose - I regard with horror the fact that so many of us remain apathetic in the face of the high rate at which we are killing off our young men.
These are strong words to use in relation to suicide. I admit to being aware of the shock value contained in using them. But the fact is that because suicide is self-perpetrated there is a tendency to regard the very word as a passive verb: our politically correct world has conditioned us to regard strong active verbs as “impolite” - a word itself shunted aside in favour of the weaker “unsuitable”. When the subject under discussion however is the destruction of a newly adult life which its owner has only just taken full responsibility for, we need good strong verbs to jolt us out of our complacency.
It is this that makes me wary of entering into discussion of the topic with those who consider themselves not directly involved. For most the quick-fix answer is actually what is being asked for.
Can I sign up for a dollar a day and a cute picture so I never have to consider my own responsibility again?
Can I come away from the discussion with all my prejudices intact and a clear conscience?
Can I confirm my own self-righteousness and go and stir up the Christians or the politicians or the atheists whose fault it is?
Can I continue to do nothing because it’s all the fault of the education system, or bad parenting, or feminism, or the immigration policy?
But most of all can I push it to the back of my mind because my own kids never have, or never would, do a thing like that themselves?
That the quick answer to the above questions is “no” usually results not only in an immediate lack of interest in the real answers, but also serves to provoke argument. Those knocked off their private hobby-horse very seldom want to re-mount and go tilting at windmills.
It is obvious that when we are discussing the deaths of minors or those still on the cusp of manhood we all need to take some of the responsibility. In this instance the pronoun “we” stands for “we the people”. Society.
It is also obvious that this is a very uncomfortable truth. So it’s not at all surprising that there is a tendency to accept this truth while disassociating ourselves from the particular sector of society who needs to take the blame.
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