The part dealing with depression, and to a lesser extent mental illness generally, is an important contribution to a discussion that more people should be having. So many tragedies cry out for an understanding of mental illness. It may be that we have a limited capacity to understand. But we won’t even approach that limited capacity unless and until we begin a serious discussion of the subject.
This is just my view, of course, but it is one of the markers of our descent into neo-paganism and barbarism that we so often mock the suffering of others. This in turn fuels the shame that strangles candid and meaningful discussion in the crib. So it seems to me we could start there: attach suitable cultural opprobrium to mockery of others’ suffering or misfortune.
To be more specific, a few examples of commonly heard wrongful mockery:
– joking about men being raped in prison
– referring to people struggling with mental illness as “nut-jobs” or “crazy”
– openly rejoicing or gloating at a criminal defendant being convicted and sentenced, even though the conviction and sentence may be warranted.
– jokes about wanton killing of the enemy in a war.
Now with respect to the last on my list here, this kind of black humor is prevalent in the military and is perhaps more forgiveable – not excusable and certainly not right – but forgiveable in the sense that it’s a psychological survival mechanism if you grant that military preparedness is a necessary evil. But still it should be discouraged and ultimately subject to rebuke, and the officer corps in particular should be vigilant not to let callousness of that kind take hold. The consequences of that can be really catastrophic.
Readers with other examples are encouraged to contribute.