Sunday, July 17, 2016

As the current reporting of a tragedy unfolds... and Open Carry laws

“Shots fired! Cops down!”

Baton Rouge is unfolding as I write this (07/17/2016).  One shooter has been killed.  The Republican National Convention is coming up and police are asking Ohio’s governor to suspend the open carry law during the convention.

Why not suspend open and concealed carry laws everywhere for all civilians and not just for some who seem more important than others? 

At the beginning of this Baton Rouge event, several TV newscasters implied that this was a racial attack, an ambush on police.  As the day unfolded, we found that perhaps this wasn’t racially motivated like in Dallas with one black shooter targeting cops. Why suspect this was racial at the start?  Trauma does that to us: distorts our vision, brings up primitive and life threatening rage and fear. We lash out toward those different from us.

I think anyone openly carrying a firearm should assume they are risking their own lives not just those of others.  But, if you are white and carry, chances are you will not be shot.  Just black and brown men might be, right? 

We seem to think that certain people are more important, better than others.  Politicians, police and delegates better than innocent, little children?

Some may believe they need to carry weapons to shoot the bad guys when there are very few ways most people can ascertain who is right or wrong, good or bad.

I am appalled and amazed by legislatures, the NRA, politicians and voters who think open and/or concealed carry is a good idea.  Maybe they just want to return to the good ole days when cowboys waved pistols at each other (at least, on TV), resolving conflicts with shootouts.  Especially when those Injuns showed up after we stole their land. It seemed clear then who was good or bad.

But, now civilians carry military weapons that can destroy large numbers in moments.

Clearly, if you have white skin, you must be good.  If your skin is dark, you might be bad, or at least most of you are.  Oh, yes, there may be some good ones out there but since we can’t tell, we need to judge people by how they look, right? A whole bunch of Americans seem to think that we better keep this nation white, as does one presidential candidate.

Beware Americans, beware.  For those who want citizens to keep carrying military-styled weapons, what has happened to your brains, to your morals, to our public safety and health needs? 

What a regression for our country.  If you think life was better in those good ole cowboy days, please read current history books and not the old distorted ones.

Perhaps Michael Moore was right when he said, the U.S. “was founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves.” It is way too easy to kill those who look different, given fear and rage.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Great Divide: America's not-so-civil war

 "Not causing harm requires staying awake. Part of being awake is slowing down enough to notice what we say and do. The more we witness our emotional chain reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. It becomes a way of life to stay awake, slow down, and notice."
 Pema Chodron
Divisions all around, family member against family member, friend against friend, presidential candidates fighting it out, acting out America’s daily dysfunction all over the globe.   

Does airing our dirty laundry make us proud, or full of humiliation and shame? 

Brain researchers say that conservative brains and liberal brains are different and I believe that must be true.  How they develop in those ways, we aren’t so sure.  

We can argue all day long about our values and our differences regarding a variety of topics: police killings of black and brown boys and men, allowing big money to control our elections, women’s reproductive rights, gun violence, mixing church and state, and income inequality.  All day long, I can talk myself blue in the face about these and other issues.

Would anyone listen?  Those who agree with me would nod and those who disagree would send me hate mail and instructive missives, asking me to come over to their way of thinking.  And, I would not.  We are such determined people, often sure that we are right, and that good and bad, right and wrong are black and white instead of murky gray.

Debating and arguing has its benefits.  We feel passionate and excited, our energy peaks and we jump into the ring time after time, sometimes enjoying the battle, wondering who will become the next American Idol (or President)?  Human beings like to feel connected and engaged with other people, either through loving, kind actions, through debate and controversy, or through reality shows and the news. We bond together against those others.

But, the arguing gets exhausting, and we tire of butting our heads against walls, weary of the rhetoric when there are usually no clear winners or answers, unless someone rules that the contest is over.  Then, the winner is praised, described as the best, while the loser may seem wrong and bad. And, that’s just not usually true.

We all have something to contribute to our world, to our families and our country. Why do we isolate so and look across the aisle with such venom?  Do I need you to agree with me about almost everything and only then can we be friends?  Differences can tie people together or break them apart.

We may be living in America’s 21st Century Civil War, including some of the blood. Now, a tiny few, less than 1%, wins big while the rest lose greatly.

Life is messy, not full of tangible, concrete answers much of the time. Life can be mysterious, uncertain, and confusing, and we hunger for guarantees and solutions whenever possible. We fight tooth and nail searching for certainty.

When a civil war occurs, people often gravitate to their opposite corners, just like in Rocky and Creed, glaring at each other with hate.  After the battle is won and lost, we wonder if we will continue repeating this destructive pattern that turns us all against each other.