American author/theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity of feeling what it is like to live in someone else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you too.”
When I think of those responsible for displacing patients and employees of Dorothea Dix Hospital for political and capital gains, compassion is not a word that immediately pops into my head. Words like irresponsibility, recklessness, greed, ruthlessness, insensitivity, arrogance and stupidity come to mind, but not compassion.
Compassion. Love. Consideration. Sympathy. Empathy. Concern. Kindness. Words you expect to hear when heart attack and cancer patient treatments are being discussed. These survivors, their families and friends expect nothing less.
But these encouraging words don’t define the present political climate on mental health in North Carolina. Why should mentally ill survivors remain less deserving of attention, resources, public relations and funding as heart and cancer survivors? People with brain illnesses should be treated with the same compassion and dignity reserved for those with so-called “normal” health concerns. Our mental health community expects nothing more. Is that too much to ask?