Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Small, Cold War

Recently released statistics from Colorado show a spike in gun sales since the Aurora shootings last week.  People who didn't have guns, felt they needed them and those who had enough guns felt they needed more. Why?   Form the gun buyer's perspective it would seem that arming oneself is the surest way to stay safe  in a world where a masked, lone gunman can shoot up an unsuspecting crowd in a movie theater.  That assessment seems logical, and just.  But it is dead wrong. Several years ago a friend of mine - a police officer - told me that it was imperative that I have an emergency kit in my garage, and that I should stock this kit with first aid, water, rations for three weeks, a knife, a gas valve tool, a bucket and toilet seat, a roll of quarters and cash, flash lights, foul weather gear, and... most importantly... a gun.  He told me, as the trained professional that he was, he never wanted to be caught with his pants down should any disaster - natural or man made - befall him.  He wanted to be ready for anything.  And he was!  His disaster kit fit inside a ski carrier and it was truly impressive. Inspired by my friend's example I began to assemble my own disaster survival kit.  It became quite fun as I shopped for various items I could include.  I planned and worked for weeks on the  kit, assembling it with such care and precaution.  I left nothing out... except the gun.  That I refused to add.   When I was done, after weeks of planning and assembling, a feeling came over me that I didn't expect - one that truly frightened me - but was as real as any other I had ever felt:  I began to hope for a disaster so I could put my emergency kit to the test.   As I wrestled with these very real and very frightening thoughts, I began to imagine how the weekend warriors and militia brigades feel when they stockpile weapons and hold training exercises in the woods, preparing to defend themselves against enemies foreign and domestic.  I understood the instant paranoia preparing for the unexpected can bring and I suddenly understood how getting wrapped up in "defending yourself" can easily lead to being the aggressor. History has shown that amongst nations, mutual destruction scenarios have been enough to stem the obliteration of all mankind - e.g. the U.S. and the Soviet Union stockpiling so many nuclear weapons that each side realized setting them off would mean the demise of their own empire - a scenario where neither side could win. But the stockpiling of guns by ordinary citizens of this country is not the same thing.  Proponents of the second amendment will tell you that it is their constitutional right to bear arms.  Their #1 reason: To defend against any government who seeks to take away their freedoms.  Their #2 reason: To defend against intruders or those who may do them harm.  And so the second amendment exists so that those who feel the paranoia of others coming after them can defend themselves at all costs.   But what about the perpetrators.  They have rights too, don't they?  Mass murderers like the shooters at Virginia Tech, Columbine, Fort Hood, and of course Aurora have the right to bear arms.  But their reasons are for inflicting undue harm to innocent life without provocation.  Do we forgive these heinous acts in the name of the second amendment, or do we decry them in the name off the first amendment - the right to stay alive?   Its been famously said that guns don't kill people, people kill people.  That is certainly true.  But what is the alcoholic without the alcohol?  What is the boxer without the ring?  What is the crazed, lone misfit without the gun?   When the gunman in Aurora pulled the trigger, taking 12 lives - one of them a child, three of them men throwing their bodies over their women to shield them - He did so with weapons he bought easily and ammunition he stockpiled without raising any red flags or arousing suspicion.  Because it was his constitutional right to do so, this crazed gunman - protected by the second amendment and lax gun laws, took the lives of people who would never and could never abuse that same privilege or harm others just because they could. Bein given the right to carry a gun doesn't mean you should.  And those who hold onto their guns will fight for their right to keep them, even going so far as to use that gun against anyone who tries to take it away.   And that's the point, isn't it... "I have this gun so you won't take it from me." I still have my disaster kit, but I no longer secretly wish to try it out - it's there in case I need it, but I don't want to need it, and in fact I never think about it.  Guns are not, and should not be thought of as a deterrent.  Like thoughts, actions, words, and emotions, guns are what we make of them.  But if we never had guns in the first place, we might actually have to solve our issues like the civilized people we claim to be.   We might have to actually talk to one another. Be your best... Steve    

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So TomKat are no more, and apparently, Katie Holmes pulled several fast ones on the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-levitating Tom Cruise in what appears to be a desperate coup to escape the clutches of his Scientology-fueled grip on her. And now that she's free, we can welcome her back to society with open arms and warm understanding. But wasn't it her biggest wish as a young lady to be married to Tom Cruise? Didn't she fantasize as an adolescent to be whisked off by the movie star and swept up in the life and love of one of the world's biggest celebrities? What happened? How could a dream come true become such a nightmare? It happens all the time - it's probably happened to you; you wished for something and when you got it, it turned out to be the very thing you didn't need. Lottery winners experience this all the time, it's what economists Andrew J. Oswald and Rainer Winkelmann call "Winner's Remorse," when you achieve an overwhelming goal that is beyond your ability to manage it. People fall in love all the time, and they fall out of love all the time too. But focusing on a goal for the goal's sake is usually a recipe for disaster, because falling in love with an idea or an image will undoubtedly lead to disappointment or worse. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with your goals and make sure you always get exactly what you want with no surprises. 1. Do your homework Falling in love with the idea of something and not fully understanding what it is that you love can be a mistake. I always wanted a '67 Mustang and when I finally got one, it leaked oil, rattled, was too slow, and guzzled gas. It was more trouble than it was worth and I got rid of it pronto. Tom Cruise is not a '67 Mustang, but once Katie got behind the wheel, she certainly wasn't into his Cruise Control option. 2. Be open to change People and things aren't perfect. If you're willing to accept the flaws of another person, and allow them and yourself to be open to tweaking yourselves a little bit to serve the relationship, you will find you're a happier person because of it. Relationships are a dance, if you can stay committed to being your best throughout the relationship, then you can handle anything that comes your way. 3. Choose powerfully True love is loving someone for who they are and who they are not. But if you find that in the process of growing you have grown apart from the person or situation and it no longer serves you, then you can just as powerfully choose to no longer be associated. Ending a relationship is not a failure, it's a successful step in choosing your life powerfully, and not putting aside your needs for your wants. Sometimes the very things you need are the things that are already in your life, and choosing what you have powerfully now can keep you from thinking that the frog you desperately need is the handsome prince you’ve always dreamed of. Be your best! Steve