Deafening Silence

My silence is deafening, even to my own ears. It is not for lack of anything to say rather it is that there is far to much to say and the voices in my head keep whispering, arguing even that I should remain silent if I cannot find anything nice to say. I have nothing. This is the truth, I have a thousand voices in my head whispering, arguing, fussing and fighting and most of the time I sit on the sidelines listening. But me? I have nothing to say, or possibly it is I have so much to say it is impossible to place my thoughts into a cohesive, coherent and manageable context. But as the year meanders forward I am trying hard to write, just write outside of my journals.

What do I think? I think we, all of us in this nation are on the very brink of disaster. I think we are staring into the abyss I am afraid for us all. I wonder every single day if our systems will hold. Thus far, they have been falling apart without so much as a whimper from those we elect to act in our best interest and who take oaths to uphold the Constitution and our systems of government.

Speak truth to power is not new in our lexis, coined by the Quakers in the 1950’s, it is a commanding challenge, intended to be nonviolent, intended to codify our voices in our First Amendment and challenge injustice. Yet somehow this has become lost, somehow the courage to stand up, speak truth to power has been replaced with sniveling, groveling and speaking for power with no concern for truth. Somehow, somewhere in the past two years we the people have determined it is acceptable to set aside all moral reason and enable personal cowardice, political expediency and corruption as the new norm. Somehow, somewhere our new norm has become mean, no matter what side of the aisle you sit on mean is celebrated, activism encapsulated to mean agree with me or else and ugly is valued.

Oh, yes I am aware there are those who speak out, yet even they are speaking out for their own truth rather than a national truth, a national best interest despite the mantle they drape themselves in. Then there are those who question just where the national conscious disappeared to, yet they do so loudly and at every opportunity they seem to be part of the problem sometimes. So many of these new young guns are so far to the other side of the argument they are difficult to ‘hear’ without questioning their motives, their values and their ultimate goals. As these standard bearers of the ‘new’ age come into their own they are fascinating to watch, somewhat like a snake charmer is fascinating but one wonders always when that Cobra will strike, killing the Charmer and everyone else within range. With their sincerity and passion for breaking the middle and demanding their way or no way, they are the new Tea Party, ready to destroy everything in their path, throwing out everything and everyone they deem irrelevant or out of step.

Lately, my voice has been silenced by my utter dismay at the fervor some have shown to take on the any and all who are not aligned to them. What I mean by this is those who were once ‘normal’, once compassionate, once willing to listen, once willing to argue and debate even if passionately for their positions are no longer willing to do these things. Those who once cheered Michelle Obama saying, “when they go low, we go high”; now reach for the lowest point and swing with glee. The world is upside down, inside out and without boundaries. Those who once stood for something, even if I disagreed stand for nothing at all but the very ugliest of our nature and our common history. Those who once believed in something believe in nothing at all but are sheep following their ‘belief’ into disaster, willing to believe any lie so long at it is told by their side of the great divide.

I don’t just say this about one side or the other of the political spectrum, but about both sides. It seems we are at a breaking point, we have dumbed down the populace to such a degree it is better to believe a lie than to demand truth, better to inflate invention than hold not only our elected officials but ourselves to a higher standard. We willingly deliver into social media every single day memes that insult our friends and then ask, ‘what?’. We fail, miserably and frequently to understand what we say and do affects our relationships not just today but forever, or maybe we have sunk so low we don’t care. We willing defend the indefensible at the expense of life-long friendships and family rather than consider the consequence of our jumping into fray.

I must be honest, I do this myself. React to something I find offensive, then regret my actions and words immediately. Thus, my silence becomes deafening, even to my own ears. Afraid to speak, afraid to defend, afraid to react. Never have I found myself without words, never in my entire life have I found myself afraid to offend. Now though, today and in this toxic and terrible nation we have allowed to thrive around us all, now I am terrified.

Aren’t you?

Hard Stop Sanity

If I haven’t visited you lately I apologize, I had a very difficult time processing my feelings after the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday. I have watched social media for the week, watched friends and family make their personal stands on the issues of gun control, mental health and a host of other surrounding issues. This is a disclaimer, I am not a mental health expert, I am not an expert on the Constitution nor am I an expert on all the issues surrounding firearms, murder rates or suicide. I am a parent and a grandparent, I am a victim of violent crime, I am a survivor of domestic violence and I am a citizen of the United States. I care about living in a civil and sane society in the future and I care about the future of my children and grandchildren.

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At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois January 27, 1838

We are complicit through our inaction, through our fear and our refusal to acknowledge the issues we create through greed, ignorance and ideology. Yes, I said it we created the Hell that sees our children dying in their classrooms, in the streets, in the mall. We are responsible for this mayhem, this chaos this vicious cycle.

We are a nation of paranoids, a nation of victims wrapped in flags with Bibles in one hand and high capacity military grade weapons in the other. What are we afraid of? Oh sure, the government is tyrannical and somehow we must protect ourselves (hint: even with the weapons you have they have better ones). Of course, you need these high capacity clips and assault weapons to defend your home (hint: if you have fired 100 rounds in 30 seconds Bible&Gunsyou have likely killed your own family along with the bad guys and if they aren’t down you aren’t getting out alive).

We should not be quick to jump to conclusions, we should not be quick to slap that ‘insanity’ label on giving us the excuse to wipe our hands and carry on with our mundane lives. The truth is, most spree murderers are not clinically ‘insane’, do not have long-term psychiatric problems and are not psychotic. The make-up of the mass murder is changing, what isn’t changing is access to high-capacity magazines and military guns making the death toll higher.

The meme of those who demand their Second Amendment rights remain sacrosanct:

  • Guns don’t kill people Kill
  • 64,999,987 legal gun owners killed no one yesterday
  • Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.
  • Gun control is hitting what you aim at.
  • The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.

Don’t you just love some of those? Yeah, me too they make me all warm and fuzzy; not.

In light of the tragedies of recent years, does the above stupidity hold weight? Can we honestly stand aside and allow our nation to continue to hold the record for death by gun violence among other high income nations, is this what we should be proud of?

Just a small slice

Just a small slice

I am pragmatic; the monster is already out of the box. We cannot fix what is already so tragically broken. We cannot change the minds or hearts of those who believe the only way to a Civil society is by arming themselves, arming school teachers, arming college students in their classrooms and dorms. We cannot change a society convinced they must be armed to the teeth, in their homes, their cars and walking the streets to protect themselves from the government, those violent ‘others’ they heard about or the zombie apocalypse.

Let’s start with some facts; I think it is important to make this a non-partisan issue:

  • Gun owners are both ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’
  • When the Constitution was written, guns were breach load muskets single shot
  • Slave and Land holders wrote the Constitution; in fact, within the first ten amendments slavery is ratified. We do occasionally see the error of our ways and correct them, the Constitution was not written on stone tables by a lightning bolt shot from on high.
  • Anyone is able to purchase any type of firearm, including military grade semi-automatic rifles and handguns without a background check or waiting period in the secondary market (gun shows and private sales, including the internet). Forty percent (40%) of all legally purchased firearms are purchased this way.
  • Anyone can purchase as much ammunition in any clip size as they want without any tracking, registration or license on the internet.
  • Approximately 10,000 people are murdered every year in gun violence, many of them teenagers.

There are those who say their right to bear arms, their right to conceal carry, their right to own any weapon and any clip size is inviolate. They say armed rebellion would be the result of any attempt at Gun Control, they say SCOTUS has confirmed their right in District of Columbia v Heller to be armed and dangerous under any and all circumstances and without restraint.

This is what I say; I say there must be some middle ground that satisfies all of us. There must be some middle ground that stops the senseless deaths of our children and the murderous rampages in our public places.

This is what I believe must happen if we are ever to begin to heal this nation:

  • Require national registration
  • Demand Conceal Carry permits only in the following circumstance and make this a federal mandate:
    • Show true need (e.g. over the road truck drivers, certain security personnel, off duty police)
    • Attend regular training
  • Require same background check and waiting period in secondary market as in gun stores
  • Create national mental health registry
  • Update criminal background check registry to include domestic violence
  • Do not allow restoration of civil rights after time-served to allow gun purchase for violent criminals
  • Update background check to include Terrorist Watch List
  • Limit Clip Size to 10 rounds
  • Do not allow private purchase without background checks, make private sales illegal even between family members
  • Shut down internet sales of ammunition
  • Require gun safes in the home of all gun owners with children under 18
  • Raise the age limit to 25 for legal purchase and gun ownership
  • Require gun safety class before purchase
  • Change Stand your Ground laws to apply only to personal property / personal homes make this federal rather than state by state
  • Create a federal buy-back program to get illegal guns off the streets of our cities, give it two (2) years. Within the scope of the buy-back program, strengthen the laws and penalties for owning an illegal gun, selling a gun illegally and for using an illegal gun in the commission of a crime.

I don’t want to take your guns. I want sanity and safety. I would rather not call it gun control, I would rather call it Gun Sanity. These days I am afraid to go to the theater, the mall or anywhere else. If you are a gun owner, frankly I am afraid of you. Is this really the world any of us want?

http://www.academia.edu/1199492/Hegemonic_Masculinity_and_Mass_Murderers_in_the_United_States

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence?s=1

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/in-gun-ownership-statistics-partisan-divide-is-sharp/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

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