People with serious mental illness would tell you that what they seek is a world without stigma, a world where they don't have to fear losing their jobs or their lovers because of any perceived association with criminals.
The grace of the families of Newtown who recently met with Vice President Biden to advocate for better mental health treatments has taken our breath away as they pave the way toward unconditional love as a nation.
While I've never been convicted of a crime, I have spent my fair share of time in private mental hospitals, wherein I've witnessed what may well be our nation's last great bastion of tobacco, tar and nicotine.
She wanted me to be informed and to learn more about these issues. To be perfectly honest, I was not listening. I heard Gayathri talking about the stigma of mental illness in India, but I was not listening well enough.
While we keep hearing and reading about a "cycle" of incarceration, homelessness, addiction and hospitalization for the mentally ill, the truth is that most of those with serious mental illness are more likely to blend in to society than to be on its fringes.
While I have raised my 12-year-old son with language around brain health that is proactive and enlightened, he still uses slang and terms that are offensive. Media and culture have won out over my endless efforts to be a role model and educate him on the importance of words.
No one deserves to live with the stigma associated with a mental illness. The important thing that we need to do as a society is be more compassionate, more informed, more caring and more supportive of those with mental illness.
Although Max expressed fear of being lumped together with violent murderers, he asked me to share our family's story as a means of bringing focus to a long list of potential solutions to events such as the Newtown tragedy.
Mesmerized by the coverage of the Newtown massacre, I could not get this tune (from my younger days) out of my head. More carnage. Only this time, even younger children -- not even young men, but innocents who would never come of age.
Throughout our lives, we travel a health-to-illness continuum, always seeking a return to wellbeing. While we acknowledge the physical realities of this continuum, it's harder to accept the emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects.
I hope that we will all do as Obama asks, and be more civil. But I also think we should think about people with mental illness and what we can do for them. And let's pray for some real heroes... their Moms.