Oh Captain, My Captain

This last weekend in Merrion Square, hundreds of Dubliners saw an outdoor viewing of one of my favorite movies in the world – Dead Poet’s Society. The proceeds went to various suicide prevention and mental health programs in Ireland which is incredibly encouraging. Here in the U.S., our entire health care system is broken and the worst victims of this are those who suffer from mental health afflictions. Whenever something that is this tragic and heartbreaking happens, we always hope that it will change the dialogue and the system, but it rarely does anything to truly help, except at a grass roots level. Our politicians can’t admit that the reality of how poorly we treat our citizens is appalling because then they would actually have to come up with a way to change it – and that involves a complete revamp of mental and physical healthcare.

The Tea party and republican contingents have already tried to repeal Obamacare over 50 times and they have whittled away a lot of the mandate via the court systems in America. Now don’t get me wrong, there are WAY too many flaws of that program to get into – but at least mental health problems and pre-existing conditions are no longer allowed to be an excuse for discrimination by the insurance companies. Still, it doesn’t do enough to help anyone afflicted by depression, suicidal thoughts, PTSD or anything else…and the politicians would rather beat a dead horse to death repeatedly than actually do something or create a program that helps. We can’t even help our veterans and they certainly can’t seem to care about the average Joe.

Robin Williams who was a national treasure and has made the world laugh over and over again, should be a wake up call. Here in the Bay Area of California, where he was from, it seems like there’s a black shroud over the hole area and everyone is devastated. We want to change things. We want our politicians to do something about the lack of care for those who need it. It is vital and important – but we live in a mostly liberal bubble and the rest of our country isn’t touched like we are. They mourn him and pay lip service to trying to change the stigma of mental health, but in the end, it’s just another tragedy like the many celebrities who died before or the shooters that constantly inflict pain in our schools and society. Nothing changes nationally and it is left to groups who already fight for the lives of their subjects to step up even more, even though they’re stretched so thin already.

The proceeds in Dublin went to Pieta House – a charity that tries to combat self harm and suicide. There was a showing of Good Will Hunting as well and proceeds were donated then too. During the Dead Poets screening, at the end of the film when the students stood on their desks to honor John Keating (Robin WIlliams’ character), the people of Dublin in Merrion Park stood to honor the actor, with various cries of “Oh Captain, My Captain” and gave Robin Williams a long standing ovation. From over here, it was a perfect and touching tribute to a man who meant more to more people than he probably ever realized.

It is nice to see other countries – especially one that I love so very much – use entertainment to boost their own care groups in order to take care of one another. I can only hope that we follow your lead and do not ignore what led to such a heartbreaking tragedy again. If you’re reading this and have been hurting, please know there are those who can help – no matter what country you are in.

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