Monthly Archives: December 2012

Gun Laws in the wake of the Connecticut Mass Shooting

Here we are again in the wake of the most tragic mass shooting in U.S. History.  28 victims, 20 of them children, were murdered by a psychopath in the name of nothing, for no reason, and has given none of us one ounce of closure.  To call this a tragedy is an understatement.  To try to put into words what the parents of these beautiful children must be feeling is impossible.

To imagine those unwrapped Christmas presents laying under the tree on Christmas morning. To think of the parents who have to live with the loss of their child every year – the holidays a constant reminder of what was taken from them. To finally muster the courage to pack your child’s bedroom and say goodbye. When it finally sinks in that your child will not be there on Christmas morning – smiling, excited, innocent – I can’t even imagine.

All these things have come to pass – or will come to pass – but one thing still remains.  One conversation: Gun Control.

Gun Control

I’ve covered Gun Control many times. I’ve tried to take a logical approach to the statistics and come to a reasonable conclusion about what it means to be a nation with an armed populous. Now 28 more people have been slain – so what do we do now?  What does this mean? Is it the time to open the discussion about Gun Control?  Is it time, for once and for all, to do what so many countries have and disarm? No.

By focusing on Guns we are missing the point. We are avoiding the elephant in the room. We aren’t having the right discussions at all.  What we need to talk about is us.  What’s wrong with our culture, with society, with our psychology?  How can we as a nation blame violence on Guns alone without taking a very careful look at ourselves in the mirror?  Why are we killing each other, what is happening to us culturally, what is the root cause of this issue?

Culture Health

We are a culture in trouble.  We have the highest gun related crime rate of any developed nation on Earth.  Why?  Is this a gun problem or something deeper?  Has TV and music corrupted our young people to such an extent that murder has become ingrain in our psyche to such an extent we resort to violent behavior?

We are in trouble unless something changes. Even our Government is built upon violence.  Have no delusions  We have the biggest military in World history.  The military industrial complex is the largest arms dealer in world history. So how can a Government enforce laws around gun control when they themselves supply all the world with weapons of destruction?  Hippocrates.

It just doesn’t fit. A culture of violence is one built from top to bottom and it has to be solved at all levels.  Peace has to come from the leadership as well as the populous – is our Government willing to lead by example?  No.

This isn’t an anti-government rant – I’m just pointing out that a culture of violence and love for Guns has saturated us.  The media, the Government, entertainment, and the people – all engulfed in a lust for violence that we can’t easily detach ourselves from.  Pro-gun or anti-gun ask yourself this: What is the real problem?  Guns or the system that promotes the idea of violence?

Tighter gun control laws without changing the moral fabric of the people will be more like chaining a rabid dog to a fence post without training him – you can take away the dogs freedom and it may solve a few problems, but he’s still rabid. How many people can you chain, spy on, and control in the name of safety?

Look in the Mirror

I’m not saying these shootings are any of our fault.  Not even close. But we have to agree that changing the way we embrace and cheer on violence has to change.

It’s propaganda. We love violence because we have been trained to. So it’s no surprise when a few of us begin to act out the thing they have come to embrace.

Does your 8 year old still find it entertaining to kill another person in a video game?  Are you still apathetic about the brown people being killed in the middle east by drone strikes that are eerily similar to the video game that your child loves to play so much?  Are you embracing love and humanity or war and murder?  Where do your dollars go at the movie theater? Do your actions scream peace?

Pro-gun or Anti-gun I really don’t care as long as we can all agree to do something about ourselves first.

Edit: A friend pointed this article out to me today. A mass shooting eerily similar to the one in Connecticut from back in the late 1920s. People have a very short memory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

Ying and Yang of Growing up Rough

From the ages 6 – 12 I lived in a predominately black neighborhood in South Atlanta.  To be honest it was the hood. Not just the kind of place where people claim they grew up in a rough neighborhood, but it was really just the suburbs – this was quite literally the ghetto.

Rough Neighborhood 

I was the only white kid, that I knew of, in my neighborhood.  I remember two high school guys fighting outside my house one day and even my dad was unable to break it up. I remember being a little scared that the one boy was going to kill the other.

He had a padlock in his hand and was bashing the poor bastard’s skull in.  His white shirt was drenched in blood. What’s even more fucked up is I remember rooting for him too.  The guy that was winning was from my section of the neighborhood and I kind of looked up to him.

Another time a young man was shot a killed at the beginning of our subdivision.  I remember walking to the bus stop for school the next morning and seeing his blood still staining the sidewalk.  It was strange – he was the first and only person I have ever known personally who was murdered.

There are times I look back on my life and relive it like a movie.  I can barely believe it myself.  I remember times my parents would have so many people over they wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t care when people slipped me shots of liquor, which I took proudly, just to seem cool.

I remember seeing pounds of pot stacked in my living room being packaged for sales.  Even back then I knew how many grams went into a nickel, dime, or quarter bag of marijuana to sell on the street.

I saw my Dad go to jail a few times, I saw my Mom on the brink of self destruction, and I saw enough young people come and go through our home that I’m quite sure both my parents will find a warm spot in Hell for all eternity for blindly instigating their addictions.

Ying and Yang

My life is almost a Ying and Yang.  On the one side I look back on events that seem surreal – some of which I’ve mentioned. Other events make me realize how I made it.  For example, my best friend, who I spent a lot of time with, had two of the best parents on the planet.

They were from Puerto Rico and devoutly religious.  I distinctly remember once suggesting to the Father that he lie to his daughter so we could leave to play basketball without her getting upset.  He looked me directly in the eyes and said: “I never lie to my children.”  That will stick with me for the rest of my life.

I also remember playing little league football.  It seems like every child who grows up in a rough neighborhood is absolutely convinced he will grow up to be a professional athlete.  I thought this too, without question, for my entire childhood.  I think that explains why so many excellent athletes come out of seemingly rough circumstances.

It’s kind of funny too.  While my Mom and Dad were terribly addicted to one drug or another most of my childhood I distinctly remember that my Mom would make me do all of my homework and write my spelling words down five times each until I was in the 5th grade.

If she did one thing right it was letting me know how important school was to her. Both my parents knew how to make me feel proud of myself and I think that has proven invaluable throughout my life.  If anything, I have never had an issue with self worth.

Moving Out

I’m not sure how I would have turned out had I not moved out of that neighborhood when I did. Man was that conversion interesting.

I remember going from a school where I was almost the only white kid in the entire building, where you had to be checked with metal detectors before entering the school, and security guards walked the hallways – then to a school with almost all white people and no security what-so-ever.

I had an accent, wore baggy clothes, and was completely oblivious that I was any different from the rest of the kids. In fact, it wasn’t until high school that I started to dress like a typical “white guy”.  It took a thorough lashing by all of my “friends” in high school until I realized I dressed like a black guy. I quickly remediated my wardrobe problems and slipped into the expected mold.

Somehow I found a place on the sports teams, made all A’s, and found a way to fit in. It is almost insane to me how resilient yet fragile the human mind is.  You can overcome almost anything or crumble because of almost everything.

When I take a careful look at my life over the past 25 years I am incredibly thankful for what I’ve overcome.  I’m incredibly thankful for what I don’t have to relive. I’m infinitely thankful for the future I see myself having and sometimes it all still feels like I’m remembering a movie I saw – not my own life.

I should be sleeping

I’m up late without much to say. A couple friends and I met at a brewery earlier today, I had four beers, came home and felt like sleeping even though it was only 7:30 pm.  Now it’s about 1:00 am and I realize that I shouldn’t have given in to my elevated blood alcohol levels driving me, forcing me, to close my eyes.

I have sat here a while begging my brain to pull something from its memory banks worth writing down, but then I remembered – “Hey, nobody reads this blog anyways.” I know that’s not totally true, but those of you who do read probably won’t mind the ramblings or are smart enough just to skip this post.

Just Be Yourself

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about tonight.  Can you just be yourself?  What if your “real self” is a total jackass that most people wouldn’t want to be around?  I feel that way sometimes. I feel like “my real self” is totally misunderstood and I can rarely speak freely and openly about any given topic because people are in general too sensitive.

If it was a conversation about God and I were to go on unemotionally about why logically it doesn’t make sense to me that the God of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim world exists at all I would probably offend someone.  When I go on a semi-rant about how I have trouble feeling enthusiastic about Christmas time because of its ironically consumerist principals people get offended. When I bring up a political issue…

It’s not only combative and controversial issues that can potentially raise problems either. Maybe it’s “What’s wrong with Atticus?” because I’m not putting on a good smiley show or maybe my cynical humor is considered in poor taste.  There are 1000 things that would in many instances leave someone feel uncomfortable when I would simply be being myself. Maybe I’m strange.

Giving and Taking

Here’s another thing that bothers me. My wife participates in at event at her school (she is a high school art teacher) where she take a couple dozen children (ages 8-14) Christmas shopping at target.  Their organization raises money and allows the children to buy a few things who would have ordinarily gone without.  This year each child received $130.

This is the part that bothers me.  A lot of the children (actually their parents) completely abuse the system. For example, one women who dropper her child off for the even was driving a new car and upon handing her child over to my wife said: “I’ll be back later, I’m going to get my hair done.”  It was a similar situation for several other children.

I don’t know if people are just selfish or entitled (or both), but it really bothers me when people take advantage – especially when it means someone else is going without.  On a positive note there were several children and families that participated that were in need. A few children even skipped the toy section to buy essentials like toiletries  underwear, and clothing.  Most of the kids even made sure to get the siblings a few things too.

The Paradox of Infinite Time

Infinite time.

Is it possible that time is infinite?  That time goes back infinitely forever.  Before earth, before the sun, before the creation of the known Universe, before that?  Was there a starting point or is there something beyond space and time we (I) can’t comprehend. If there was a beginning is that where we find God?

If time is infinite does that mean that everything that could have happened has already happened.  Has this already happened, have I typed this before? Statistically what does it mean when there is infinite time – have I already been, will I be again?  Is that reincarnation?

Just a few questions I think about from time to time when I’ve been up too late.  I would love to hear answer if you have any!

U.S. International Relations: Where is our place?

I have read a variety of blog posts and articles lately regarding the United States’ role as related to international affairs. We are arguable the most influential country in the world so I think it’s fair to say that when we as a country speak others listen. What is the moral obligation of such a country and have we overstepped our boundaries?

Overwhelmingly I think almost everyone would agree we have gone to far. In fact, I think this is almost intuitive.

Even if most people don’t realize that our Government is directly responsible for the coo of numerous democratically (and not democratically) elected leaders for their own political gain, that we have smuggled weapons, facilitated the drug trade, participated in the assassination of leaders, and much more – most people still agree that the Government has overstepped its boundaries.

Even our aid is bad medicine. Who are we as one nation to have such influence on the way others live there lives? Especially when the impact is a negative one. Our “aid” in the continent of Africa, for example, has been proven again and again to have resulted in the perpetuation of poverty and violence. Far from eradicate their problems we have only magnified them. Yet we still feel this need to intervene – is it our culture?

We have even hurt ourselves. We are trillions in debt as a country, yet we send billions in “aid” to other countries every year. In what world that makes sense I’m not sure. We struggle with poverty, natural disasters, crime, and culture still today! So why do we as a nation feel so justified in direct and physical intervention elsewhere?

Ask yourself this. Will history define us as a modern day beacon of peace and hope or will history call us a Tyrant? I think we already know the answer to that question.

Where do we go from here?

In the meantime “peace loving liberals” will demand that the richest of our citizens fork over more tax dollars – further funding the Government. We will continuously demand social justice. Our bills will continue to go unpaid and I promise you nothing will change.

This is fact: We cannot improve this nation with a foreign policy of imperialism and intervention. If anyone has any illusion anything will change here at home without a change elsewhere they are delusional. If things do get better – consider this – it will be paid for at the expense of some poor brown bastard you’ve never met.

If our economy gets better, if our products become cheaper, if oil prices go down, or if the United States manages to start enough wars and sell enough weapons to kick-start our economy back into shape ask yourself: Why.

Your solution to social and wealth inequality is to to put more tax dollars in the pocket of the biggest Governmental tyrant in world history? Laughable.

The Loonies are coming out!

I’m a conservative guy when it comes to finances, but if you are going to give financial advice (which you probably aren’t going to follow yourself) make it good. This is bad advice.

Taxes