Sunday, December 30, 2012

They're Everywhere! They're Everywhere! But will it Help?

Discussions about gun control, that is.  Sitting in our town social center, The Bakery, I picked up the conversation of two couples in the next booth above the chatter of our two youngest grandkids.  They were replaying the many varied opinions popular in newspapers and TV.  Our social media are rife with posts about it on both sides of the issue.   A friend is trying to organize a busload to march on Washington, probably to join many other busloads I would speculate.

Have we finally reached a tipping point in the actions needed?  I wish I knew the answer.   The gun control proposals being tossed about are a rational first step but not a solution.  We in the USA need a general attitude adjustment.  Good luck with that.

I keep rereading Michael Moore's Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns.  Though I think he goes overboard in many of his films, this letter is spot on.   It's long but worth the time to read it through.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas, and other politically incorrect thoughts

For as long as I can remember I have loved this time of year.  There is something about the feeling surrounding all the lights and gaudy decorations that says "It doesn't matter how dark the world is, we can light it up, make it bright and cheerful for a while."  Perhaps it's because of the times my father would take us kids for a ride to look at the brightly decorated homes: some celebrating the birth of the source of one of the world's great religions, though his actual birth date is inconclusive; others celebrating the 'Jolly Old Elf' in the red suit who magically leaves presents for the children without ever being seen.  Perhaps it's remembering Christmas Eve in the small village of Gilbertsville, when the whole town showed up at The Overlook where the children got to see Santa ride down Academy Hill in a horse-drawn sleigh.  He doled out small gifts to every child  in attendance, and yes, there was snow on Christmas. 

Christmas has no religious significance for me, except as it seems to bring out a sense of kindness and giving in so many people, a feeling I wish would persist throughout the year.

All of the holidays around the solstice are built around light, an appropriate reaction to the darkest day of the year.  The nine candles of Hanukkah, the seven candles of Kwanzaa, the lighted tree of Christmas, the many candles of  ancient Saturnalia; are all about chasing the darkness. There are lots of different kinds of darkness in our world.  Let's try to shed some light on as many as we can.

I was stationed in Turkey back in the early sixties. I remember a doctor on base coming out of the hospital smiling.  When I asked him why, he said "I just got a Christmas card from a Muslim colleague in Istanbul, and I'm a Jew."   He wasn't offended by the gesture.

So, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Christian or not, embrace the peace of the season.  Give something to someone, even if it's just "Hello."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Insanity, the USA, and my Grandkids

Let's get something straight - assault weapons have no value in hunting game, they are made for only one thing, killing people.  No person who claims it is a sporting weapon can be taken seriously.  Assault weapons are people killers, nothing else. Yeah it may be a great testosterone hit to see the absurd power they have on a range, but if you need to pulverize a block wall, use a sledge hammer.  We need, desperately, to control access to these weapons, to make certain ... hell I don't know what to make certain of.  Removing assault weapons is a small but necessary step in cutting down the senseless murder in our country.

Before anyone attempts to dismiss my comments let me say I was an NRA member as a teen, an expert shot both then and in my seven years of military service, and a hunter until my early thirties.  I learned to shoot from a marine, my father, who gave me a single shot .22 and when I complained about its limitations, said, "If you can't hit your target with one shot, you've got no business shooting at it."  I know weapons, and I am not one to blame one on a killing.  That said, access to weapons is far too easy in the USA.  Every handgun and long gun must be registered at the very least.  You all know the things that need to be done.  Let's do them before we see another Newtown.

I started this next part a few days before Newtown; a musing about the distant future.

As I, and probably everyone I know, embraced the pattern of 12-12-12, my thoughts drifted to the next time we would have the occasion to mark the pattern of these last twelve years.  From 01-01-01 to 12-12-12, each year we have highlighted the pattern in some way.  Eighty-eight years will pass before the pattern recurs.  I will not see it.  Most, if not all, of my grandchildren will not see it; Miranda will be ninety-six and Danny ninety-three, the other three well past the century mark.  My great-granddaughter, Suri, will be an old lady of eighty-eight.  If they live to see it, what will they see?  What kind of world will they live in?  Will it be one in which there is true freedom of and from religion, where it is a private choice and not a public weapon?  Will it be one where disagreements are settled by dialogue, not murder?  Will it be one where quality health care is as much a right as owning a weapon?  Will it be one where racial hatred is a subject of history rather than a daily fact?   Will it be a world of healthy air and adequate food and water?

Right now it ain't looking so good.