Thoughts on Being Disengaged
I feel well qualified to write about being disengaged because from age 9 to 16 I was not engaged in life. I have worked diligently to disprove this point for the rest of my life. What is the meaning of the word, by definition it is: release from something that holds fast, connects, or entangles. It is a word that can take on a life of its own in the minds of many people. Before the age of 8 I felt very connected to all things in my life but my main source of engagement was in my love of baseball. I felt secure and safe, being part of something bigger than myself. I felt included and involved and saw a clear path to the future. However, when I was 8 years old, I was uprooted and moved to a rural area of upstate New York where I felt abandonment and isolation. I was ripped from all that I felt comfort in, so in reality what I was feeling was disengagement. I tried to fit in at school but didn’t measure up to the social standards of my classmates. Teachers saw and treated me differently and I never had a sense of being included by students or teachers. My only choice was to bond with a couple of other “put out to pasture kids” in my school. I am still in close contact with one and the other friend was killed in a car accident while I was in Viet Nam. We found comfort in each other and explored growing up in a rural community living life way faster than young children should ever experience, but as always with me I looked at it all through the lens as a learning experience. Here is the point I want to make about of feeling disengaged. In today’s fast paced world, I think many children and adults feel separation. With all the violence and destructive behaviors that we see every day I think much of it can be attributed to people that are feeling disengaged from society. They are lost souls without hope and faith in their world. The great question then becomes how can we make the disengaged feel engaged and involved? I want to make it abundantly clear that there is more going on than just disengagement, but we as the public can take some action to facilitate engagement with the disengaged. One area we can start with is in the school and university systems, teachers or professors need to identify when and if a student is displaying behaviors that are attributable to being isolated. We often hear the comments, “he was a loner” or “he didn’t seem to fit in.” Every school system should have a trained counselor to handle these types of behaviors from students or a least a system to offer them the help they need. It’s not only the professionals that need to be aware, but also a greater awareness from the parents and guardians. I often think so many tragedies could have been avoided if only the parents would have admitted and embraced their children’s needs and cries for help and attention. They often are the first line of help a child seeks when they need it. Parents should be aware of what your sons and daughters are saying, seeking, and doing at all times, you are their beacon of hope and faith. An employer is in much the same situation as the school system, recognition to employee’s actions and statements are a huge indicator of behavior. All employees need to be trained on how to report an event that could be a signal for a cry of help. We need to shed the fear of getting involved, and instead think of it, as we might just be helping and possibly saving lives by getting involved. How many times have we heard the statement, “I wished I had done something” by an acquaintance or friend of a person that perpetrated the crime. What can society do as a whole to alleviate this disengagement epidemic? First we need to get our priorities in order, local and federal governments need to realize and acknowledge the problem and put in place a plan to increase the funding of the mental health community. To tend to the needs of the mental health of the public will require a concerted effort of all citizens to be aware and have a system in place to report individuals who need assistance or crisis intervention. This can be instituted with keeping the rights of the individual protected. I am not one to promote the formation of another government agency, but we are at a crossroads in our society where we have to decide on what’s important and how many more lives are in danger if we don’t address the real issues at hand. We need to stop politicizing the process and get down to the business of making it right for the whole community and nation.