Just Say No! (Not Maybe)
“You’re not the boss of me!”
“You can’t tell me what to do!”
“No! I don’t want to!”
Remember when you were trying to parent
those 3 year olds? And later those teens? How did we handle those
refusals to play by the rules?
Yeah, that stuff was hard to handle. Arguments. Consequences. Eye rolling. Giving up. Blow ups. Resentments.
But the bottom line was, as parents, we
had to win in the end. We could NOT allow our kids to have their way
when, 1. What they wanted went up against what we, as responsible
parents, had determined was the best course. Or, 2. What they wanted
was dangerous or unacceptable behavior for them or for others.
But as a society that is exactly where we
have failed when it comes to weighing individual Rights vs. individual
Responsibility. What we have done has been to tip the scales way out of
balance when it comes to determining that Rights are more important
than Responsibility and we did it first with our actual children, the
young in our society so that they determine the shape and make-up of
our fashion and entertainment….in fact the youth of our country have
control of our culture. All of this is based upon the fact that our
children have the purchasing power to draw the attention of marketers
and marketers pander to that huge sector of our economy. We adults have
allowed this because we worship youth.
But it hasn’t stopped there. We have also
allowed our society to give way too much power to the concept of Rights
in so many areas that we are now reaping havoc everywhere. Where once
we determined that no one had the right to, on a whim, yell Fire! In a
crowded theatre, we now claim that this is a Right of Freedom-of-Speech
and should not be abridged. Now insult, no matter how egregious, falls
into this category as well. So simple civility has been cast aside in
favor of individual freedom of expression.
Fact, whether as a scientific proof or
Fact as a report of an actual occurrence can now be called into
question simply because it may be inconvenient to acknowledge reality.
And now we have created a full blown
culture of guns based upon a fairly simple Amendment, the 2nd of
course, having determined that a “well regulated militia” means
EVERYBODY….should walk around carrying guns of every caliber, capacity,
and capability and these should be able to be carried everywhere.
That’s our “right” after all and it should not be abridged lest a
tyrannical government take us all into concentration camps. And no one
has been willing to say No! to this mad idea, to these adult children
who claim they have the RIGHT to go about in our society, creating and
contributing to the air of paranoia and anger that fills our streets
day and night and makes everyone feel unsafe. For contrary to the claim
that if all are armed we will be safer for then it will be true that
the criminals will be out-gunned, now everyone has the potential to be
a killer, intended or not.
So; what to do about our current
un-reality? First, ALL public buildings must be equipped with metal
detectors because no one should be allowed to carry a gun inside a
public space. Yes, that includes, but is not limited to; movie
theaters, hotels, churches, restaurants, coffee shops, department
stores, malls, liquor stores, libraries, schools (of course) government
buildings, super markets, etc., etc in short any space open to the
public (probably have to include parks somehow) must have, at all
entrances, metal detectors and personal to oversee them. Yes, just like
air ports. (After all, if we’re going to be protected against
“terrorists” we must include the most prevalent source of terror in our
country, our own citizens.) Who will pay for this? Well, the gun lobby
of course. If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t need to do any of this so
they are responsible. Oh! And they have the money.
Next, let’s stop selling assault weapons.
Nobody hunts deer with them so no excuses from the hunting lobby. And
let’s stop accepting the,
“Stop-telling-us-we-can’t-have-assault-weapons!” people telling all the
rest of us that they have a right to have them just “because”. Maybe
they feel “safer” having them around but the rest of us do not. And
there are more of us. Yes there are thousands and thousands of these
around and we will just have to cope with that but let’s not add to the
total. (No point in trying the Aussie answer and have the Government
off to buy them back ‘cause those obsessed with having them aren’t
going to let them go….the whole “…pry them from my dead fingers…” thing
having been a flag waver for them after all.
No more high capacity magazines sold. (For
obvious reasons. Of course any restrictions would be put in place at
this point for “obvious reasons”.)
Register ALL guns. (ditto above)
None of this will solve the problem we
have been building up to all these years, but there’s not much we can
do about that. There will still be random killing by guns, there will
still be mass murders occurring, the trend after all, is continuing and
the body count grows with each passing year, but it may slow things
down a bit and most importantly, all of this will send a message that
this romance Americans have with guns is NOT a good thing. It’s a
problem, and anyone who contributes to it is feeding that problem.
I don’t know about you, but if people are wandering around in
a public space carrying guns I DO’T FEEL SAFER! Crazy people with guns
look just like sane people with guns and I can’t begin to tell the
difference. So I just think it’s better for everyone to not have to try
to figure that one out. Just take the gun out of the picture and I
won’t worry about your sanity….or mine.
Once we get outside of a public space,
well……we will just have to get back to duck-and-cover I suppose. Fewer
semi or fully auto weapons will help. Limits on how much a shooter can
fire in a given amount of time may help. Other than that, we’ve been
working on creating this nightmare scenario for over a hundred years
and now we are reaping the whirlwind. No one in high political office
seems to be willing to take the role of responsible parenting about it
so far but perhaps these few steps will help some.
Of course it will take a bunch of law
makers deciding to say “No!” to the willful children-with-guns (and
money) to get all of this done (and ALL of it must be done in order for
anything to be even moderately effective).
But do we have any responsible parents in control anywhere?
Reflections about Elroy Bode
If we were
to look up from our lives to find that suddenly the Franklin Mountains*
were gone and all that remained was an empty desert we would be shaken
to the core.
A few days ago I looked up from my life
and found that my life’s landscape had suddenly been altered, been
swept clean of richness and depth, my dear friend Elroy Bode was gone.
I remembered my doc saying to me when I
got my cancer diagnoses, “Well, everyone has to die sometime.”
Previously I considered that to be simply a philosophical observation
about life in general…..nothing to do with me or with those I love. But
now death has become personal, my seeing-eye writer friend has left my
side. That’s the bad news.
The only good news is that he will never
leave my mind or my heart. That would be truly impossible. After all,
he caused me to be very aware of light and shadow. Aware of the
smallest beauty, the humblest truth. He was the one who stopped to
smell the roses and the enchiladas, the one who heard the things I
heard but had no names for.
50 years ago when I read Elroy’s, “Texas
Sketchbook” the first thing I thought was, “Hey! He wrote the book I
should have written!” The second thing thought was, “I’ve got to talk
to this guy. He’s someone who knows what I’d like to know.” And sure
enough, we listened to the same big bands, appreciated the same
sunsets, even read the same books, year after year, decade after
I wanted 50 more. I expected Elroy and the mountains to stay.
*Mountain range in El Paso, Texas
You weren’t supposed to leave us Elroy Bode.
From northern New Mexico you were my southern anchor.
My go-to source of intelligence. My dependable source of sanity. And now I feel adrift.
Lonely. Yes, just like your book title, Alone in the World, Looking.
Is there anything beyond “sad”?
Just that I knew you for 50 years
But it wasn’t enough my dear brother…..I wanted another 50
I wanted a few whiskeys more
Another hour of your presence.
I look up and the Franklins are still there
blanketed by haze
or is that just a veil of tears in my eyes?
but they are diminished somehow
it seems everything is smaller with you gone.
What am I left with?
Your beautiful words
Your way of seeing the world
so many memories of you just
A sure thing
And Elroy Bode.
The Dali Lama said “No one is important but each is essential”
You were my “essential” Elroy,
Now I will have to make-do with what I remember
And there is so much. So much.
You will just have to hang around inside me for a long time yet,
Siempre my dear, dear friend. Always.
I wrote, or
at least attempted to write, about the sadness, the loss, the
inevitable wish to deny his absence, but I couldn’t finish any of those
pieces because Elroy kept smiling at me.
I’m a believer in the concept of
life-after-death, not as a flight- to-Heaven sort of thing but as a,
they’re still hanging around idea so it didn’t surprise me that Elroy
would keep popping up in my awareness as I tried to process my own
grief on the page, but it did surprise me that he expected me to find
some ironic humor in any of this pain….this being haunted by the now
empty place at the table in my life.
But if anyone were going to find the irony
it would be Elroy, and here it was. This is exactly the kind of little
vignette he would write about…that here is this elderly gent, going
about his Sunday morning task of making a familiar breakfast, setting
the table, preparing a wake-up feast and then dropping dead before he
could even raise a forkful….oh yes, Elroy would have loved to write
that scene. Great expectations, best laid plans…..and all that.
So he has left me with a small smile on
his and my face, about the wonderful life-viewer he was, about how he
saw all of life half-amused, half-wonderful, all alive. Elroy may have
left his body, but he will remain for decades to come a light breeze in
our past and a constant awakeness to all of life around us.
He has been, and will continue to be a
gift to us all….bemused, aware, a soft walker through life. A smile in
(I'll write about who my great
friend Elroy Bode was in time and include a picture too. Right now,
these words will have to do. c)