Thoughts & Prayers…Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this little ditty please take a moment to check it out…otherwise you’ll be hopelessly confused.

 

Okay, so…I don’t want to be one of those people who shriek “Do something!!” but offer no real solutions. Therefore, allow me to make a few suggestions.

 

One of the first rules of being in a supervisory position is “never ask subordinates to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself”. In that same vein, I humbly ask all of the social justice warriors in Hollywood, the music industry, & professional sports who love to use social media and the bully pulpit of television that is readily accessible to them to self-righteously preach about gun control to lead the way. Get rid of every firearm  in your possession. Dismiss every last armed security person you employ. Every. Single. One. You’ll just have to rely on the police like the common folks here in flyover country. And finally, pledge to never again write, produce, direct, or star in any TV show or movie that depicts even a single second of gun violence. It’s a little hypocritical to criticize The Second Amendment while simultaneously making movies with a higher body count than the mass shootings about which you are shedding crocodile tears. Eliminate all music, video games, computer software, or any other product that even mentions guns. These would be more significant contributions to society than the collective glitterati have made in the past half century.

 

On a more basic level let’s talk about school security. Now I haven’t been a high school student since the first George Bush was in the White House, and have only had reason to visit a public school a couple of times in the ensuing years, but I know that things are a little more secure these days. Theoretically no one can just waltz into a school and wander around. However, I think we can do better. I am employed at a mental health facility, and we contract a security firm. On each floor of our facility there is a security guard, and much of what that person does is monitor various cameras. No one enters or exits the premises without security knowing about it. Why shouldn’t schools have the same system?? I know that most high schools have a “resource officer” that actually lives on school grounds, and that is fantastic. But especially with larger schools it seems like one person isn’t enough. Furthermore, why should a person who has no business at the school even get within sight of the building?? Why not put a check-in gate on the driveway or access road leading to the school (assuming the campus has such a thing)?? No one that shouldn’t be there would get anywhere near the students. Perhaps such things exist in some locations, but they sure don’t seem to be the norm. These two reforms alone might have saved dozens of lives the past few years.

 

And now the big one…my grandest idea thus far. I am not a politician and have no plans to ever run for public office. It was something I pondered for a brief moment in time many years ago, but life has not led me in that direction. However, allow me to offer…free of charge to any legislator that wants to pick up the ball & run with it…the Child Safety Act (someone can even rename it to something more poetic if they wish). Here’s how it would work. You want to talk about “common sense gun reform”?? Okay…I am open-minded. Longer waiting periods?? More extensive background checks?? Stricter licensing procedures?? I’m no expert on any of those things but there is nothing wrong with an intelligent discussion. You want to raise the age requirement to legally purchase any gun to 21…or even older?? I think I’m okay with that. Anything short of a weapons ban or altering The Second Amendment is on the table. My fellow fantasy football league owners will tell you how much I like wheelin’ & dealin’, and since this issue is obviously much more important I am prepared to be flexible. Liberals & conservatives alike are rather passionate about all of this but definitely approach the topic with differing philosophies.  I think though that we can all agree that mass shootings are horrific. Any such loss of life…especially when we’re talking about kids…is sad, depressing, & unacceptable. If we can indeed “do something” then let’s make it happen.

 

Now, politicians like to talk about “bipartisanship” & “reaching across the aisle”. They have been known to negotiate quid pro quo deals, and regularly include items in bills that aren’t necessarily related to the main idea. However, in this case there is common ground. It really is about the children isn’t it?? If so, then let’s discuss the other half of the Child Safety Act…”common sense abortion reform”. There are waiting periods for buying a gun, so let’s have a practical waiting period for an abortion (24 hours is a joke). 10 days?? 30 days?? It’s worthy of a conversation. And during that waiting period how about mandated, fair & balanced, comprehensive counseling, information about alternatives like adoption, financial advice, health care assistance & instruction, and training on parenting skills. And I’m not just talking about pamphlets. If a person really wants that abortion why shouldn’t they be required to jump thru some hoops?? How about background checks?? A medical facility should know whether or not there is a legitimate reason for someone to get an abortion. Take a look at the woman’s family situation, finances, psychological profile, etc. Is the choice to abort one of convenience?? Gun control advocates like to ask “Why does a person need to own so many guns??” & “Why does a person need to own this or that type of gun??”. Okay…then I think it’s fair to ask a person “Why do you want to abort this baby??” & “Why are you opposed to putting the child up for adoption after it is born??”. Age restrictions?? Let’s discuss. It is important to clarify that we are not talking about repealing Roe v. Wade, just as gun control advocates indicate they do not seek to eliminate The Second Amendment (;-)), and obviously we are excluding any situation where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, but otherwise perhaps the “choice” shouldn’t be quite so easy. I realize that the framework for some of these limitations may be in place in some states, but it is hardly universal. Let’s make the legalities consistent. The simple fact is that the right to keep & bear arms is a Constitutional right dating back nearly two & a half centuries, whereas a woman’s “right to choose” is based on a court decision younger than I am. Nearly 350 people were victims of mass shootings in America in 2017. There are 500k-1 million abortions annually in the United States, depending on which source one chooses to believe. So if all of this really is about the children then y’all can’t have it both ways. A Constitutional right cannot be restricted or abolished while a fairly new “right” remains relatively unencumbered, especially given the stark contrast in numbers.

 

One final thing…..

God’s Word, in James 5:16, says that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Psalms 5:3 says “my voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord…in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up”. 1 John 14-15 says “this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” God instructs us in Jeremiah 29:12 to “call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Philippians 4:6 says to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. James 5:13 asks “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray”. Psalms 17:6 reassures that “I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God”. Psalms 102:17 says “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer”. In Romans 12:12 we are taught to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Psalms 145:18 says “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him”.  So if someone wants to pray for others…let them. Welcome it. And if you feel so inclined to pray for a person in need or a group of people you don’t know like the families of the victims at Stoneman Douglas High School then go right ahead. People like The View’s Joy Behar may think that Godly people are mentally ill, but we know that God is real and He hears our prayers. If you don’t happen to believe in God that is your right, and I respect it…so long as that respect is mutual.

 

I don’t have all of the answers. I wish I did. But I’m pretty sick & tired of people wanting to arrogantly toss aside our Constitution, and I’m really fed up with condescending attitudes about the power of prayer. One of the best things about America is each person’s freedom to believe or not believe in whatever they choose, especially when it comes to faith. We also have the freedom to disagree & debate when it comes to other issues. I am humbly suggesting that everyone engage in such discussions with compassion, consideration, & humility. That’s probably asking too much though.

Thoughts & Prayers

Back in 2006 thru the spring of 2008 I was sidelined with an ulcer on my tailbone during what I refer to as My Unfortunate Incarceration. I’ve alluded to it a few times here, so I’ll spare y’all a rehash. During that period…especially when I was homebound in my apartment for about a year…people would run into my father & sister and say “Tell Sam we’re praying for him!!”, and it would drive me absolutely nuts. I was quite lonely during that time, and I must admit that instead of drawing closer to God I became kind of angry at Him. I told my family that I wished those people would stop praying for a little while and instead pick up a phone to call me or drop by for a visit because I had plenty of free time. So…in an admittedly odd way…I understand where people are coming from when they criticize President Trump & others for expressing their sympathies either in a speech or press conference, or even on social media. I get it. It can sometimes feel like empty sentiment. “Thoughts & prayers” aren’t going to bring back those 17 students & teachers that were tragically murdered at a Florida high school, nor are they going to restore life to those killed in other mass shootings in recent years.

 

We’ve all been on both sides of this scenario at funerals. A loved one dies, family & friends gather, and folks say things to the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased like “My condolences” or “I’m sorry for your loss”. People say those things partially because social protocol dictates that is what they are supposed to say. Perhaps one would like to offer further comfort but just can’t find the words. Or maybe…just maybe…an individual really is aggrieved and truly sorry for that family’s loss. It may be unknown exactly what that person is truly feeling inside…and really, who are we to judge?? We also have no way of knowing how those words affect the grief-stricken family. Some may be soothed and find solace in such support, while others might consider it meaningless drivel. There is no way to really know that part of the equation either, but we offer our sympathies anyway.

 

It is human nature in times of tragedy to ask “What could have been done to prevent this from happening??”. In the aftermath of situations like what recently occurred in Parkland, FL people make a plea to “do something”. “Thoughts & prayers” aren’t enough for some…they demand tangible action, which is reasonable. However, there are a few issues that cannot be circumvented.

 

First of all, demands to “do something” in the wake of such unspeakable calamities are undeniably emotional, which I suppose makes sense. However, emotional decisions are rarely intelligent ones. In my experience whenever I rush into something without thinking it thru it usually ends up backfiring terribly, so I have had to learn to slow my roll. Now I know what you’re thinking…there have been more than enough mass shootings over a long enough period of time that some kind of action is overdue. Okay…I might not completely agree with that train of thought, but I get it. However, the past is the past. There is nothing anyone can do about perceived mistakes or failures after previous mass shootings, so let’s start fresh. I still believe it is proper to proceed with…if not caution, then wisdom.

 

Secondly, many of those who are demanding for Congress & other entities to “do something” lack specific suggestions, and some that do go further offer ideas that aren’t palatable to most Americans. Both sides of this coin are in abundance on television & social media, especially from self-absorbed & hypocritical celebrity types whose rambling adds nothing of substance to the conversation. Look, I don’t know the IQ of any given actor or athlete, and though their educational background is easily researched I’m not sure that means too much. I’ve known people who barely graduated high school who were profound thinkers and college graduates who are dumber than a box of rocks. However, the inescapable reality that such individuals refuse to accept is that we do not care about their “insight” on sociopolitical issues. My employer pays me to come to work and do a specific job. They wouldn’t be interested in me going around to other departments offering my opinion on the value of fellow employees or suggestions about how to streamline duties that I’ve never been trained to perform. I am expected to stay in my lane and that’s what I do. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have opinions, just that no one gives a damn about them…nor should they. Likewise, we want actors to entertain us in movies & TV shows, singers to write & sing great songs, and athletes to perform to the full extent of their abilities on the field/court/track. These folks do not help their cause when their emotional appeals are of the intellectually vacant & decidedly unspecific variety, and it really bites them in the rear when their ideas boil down to more gun laws and a thinly veiled desire for The Second Amendment to be modified or abolished.

 

Whenever this debate arises (which is admittedly all too often) I am amazed at the total lack of respect for America’s Founding Fathers. Some basketball player who has never even sniffed a college campus or a third rate actress whose talent plateaus with vagina jokes thinks they are smarter than John Adams?? Thomas Jefferson?? Benjamin Franklin?? Alexander Hamilton?? Seriously?!?!?? Get over yourselves!! The constant refrain goes something like this: “The Founding Fathers could not have foreseen AR-15s or other high powered rifles. They were talking about muskets.” Well okay…they couldn’t have fathomed television or The Internet either, but no one is talking about eradicating The First Amendment. I think we need to stop shortchanging the deep thought process of the tremendously intelligent men who helped birth this great nation. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It isn’t even about home invasion. Heck, if you really want to dig deep it isn’t even about guns. Allow me to refresh your memory. The Second Amendment states that “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s about tyranny!! America exists because people successfully escaped a tyrannical government. The framers of The Constitution wanted to protect the citizenry from facing such oppression ever again, and one of the ways that is done is to limit governmental power. Sadly we live at a point in history when far too many are willing to give up control of nearly every aspect of their lives to the government, and once that Pandora’s Box is open it becomes difficult to regain lost freedom. At any rate, folks get caught up in the language of the amendment, opining that a “well-regulated militia” means that only the military should have guns, and “the security of a free state” is up to law enforcement & the military…but that is wrong. That last part is unmistakable…”the right of the people to keep & bear arms”. “The people” is you, me, and anyone else who chooses to be a responsible gun owner.

 

 

For the sake of readability let’s take a break and pick this discourse back up tomorrow.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 13.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

 

I have a comfortable detachment from the idiocy that happens in the Hollywood community. Entertain me and I am generally willing to overlook whatever kind of stupidity they spew, which is why I’ve stopped watching late night television…they stopped being entertaining & crossed the line with their propaganda. Anyway, I’ve listened with some bemusement to all this Harvey Weinstein hullabaloo. I’m not sure why anyone is so surprised. We’ve all heard about the “casting couch” for decades, but somehow it’s supposed to shock me that the CEO of a movie studio was engaging in such activities instead of some low level producer or director?? I’m not the least bit astonished. What is funny…in an aggravating sort of way…is watching all of these morally bankrupt celebrities feign surprise and try to cover their ass. Come on folks…you play dress up & pretend for a living, yet you’re such terrible liars. I’m not really sure about fate, kismet, & all that jazz, but the irony that all of this is coming to light after so many folks out in Hollywood have aggressively condemned President Trump for his faults the past couple of years exposes their total hypocrisy.

 

 

So we just “celebrated” Columbus Day recently. The term celebration is used hesitantly because all it means in reality is that government offices are closed, so I’m glad the friendly neighborhood mail carrier atleast got to enjoy a day off. The United States first recognized the holiday in 1937, and it is actually celebrated in other places like Argentina, Venezuela, The Bahamas, Spain, & even Italy. The states of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, South Dakota, & Vermont don’t recognize Columbus Day, although a couple of those states celebrate an alternative called Discoverer’s Day, and a growing number of localities in wussified blue state America are promoting Indigenous People’s Day. This all stems from folks being all bent out of shape because Christopher Columbus was allegedly mean to peaceful & friendly Indians. Oops…I’m sorry…Native Americans. At any rate, this “controversy” got me to thinking. If we are going to rebrand holidays in an effort not to offend anyone by diminishing the accomplishments of imperfect people with a few skeletons in their closet why not go all in?? Since I am a solutions oriented guy allow me to offer some suggestions:

 

Dick Clark Appreciation Day. New Year’s Eve/Day is insulting to the old year that may have done nothing wrong.

 

 

#BlackLivesMatter Day. Sorry Martin Luther King, Jr…time to add some zest to this holiday.

 

 

 

We’re Sick of Winter Day. It is unfair to celebrate the groundhog above any other rodents. Plus, the supposed power to predict the weather is offensive to meteorologists.

 

 

Public Servants Day. Some of those mean Presidents owned slaves, raised taxes, & cheated on their wives. Abraham Lincoln was tall & lanky, which might offend fat people. Plus…Donald Trump!! Besides, why should Presidents get all the glory?? Big Government has a lot of moving parts that demand respect.

 

Candy & Flowers Day. Saint Valentine was…shhhh…a Christian. We can’t have that.

 

 

 

 

Bunnies & Eggs Day. Risen Savior?? Oh no…we can’t celebrate that!!

 

 

 

Irish Heritage Day. The same thought process applied to Saint Valentine must be used for Saint Patrick.

 

 

 

Stars Wars Day. Disney agrees to pay for President Trump’s Big Beautiful Wall, and in exchange Cinco de Mayo fades away into the sunset. May the Fourth be with you.

 

 

 

Decoration Day. Actually this was the original name for Memorial Day, and we’re going back to it because decorations are fun!!

 

 

Parents’ Day. Mother’s Day & Father’s Day may offend the transgender community.

 

 

 

July 4th. I suppose we kind of have this one covered already, don’t we?? We don’t want to offend the British, we just want to get drunk & blow stuff up.

 

 

 

Union Strong Day. Labor Omnia Vincit!!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Day. Hey, it already dominates everything in the autumn. Besides, Halloween has pagan origins and it’s scary.

 

 

Santa Claus Day. We can rid ourselves of the pretense and stop offending non-Christians. Everybody wins. Well…almost everybody.

 

 

 

 

Since it’s not really a sports story, allow me to use this space to comment on Vice President Pence’s recent attendance at an Indianapolis Colts football game. Pence is a native of Indiana and a lifelong Colts fan, and I assume that part of the plan…in theory…was to be present as former quarterback Peyton Manning got inducted into the Colts Wall of Honor or whatever they call it there. At any rate, after several members of the San Francisco 49ers kneeled during the national anthem the Vice President and his entourage made a big show of leaving the stadium immediately in disagreement with the protest. I respect Pence and, like many people who voted for that particular duo in the election, count on him to provide political experience and a voice of reason to balance out Donald Trump’s…occasionally inappropriate instincts. However, this thing was nothing but a publicity stunt. He had to know that there would be kneeling. Surely he has been paying attention as the uproar over these anthem protests reached a fever pitch not long ago. And even though the furor has calmed just a bit it is an ongoing issue. I feel the same about the situation as I do about most everything else…if it doesn’t affect me I don’t pay too much attention. But just like those late night shows that began infringing on my relaxation time with their political venom, this little photo op by VP Pence involved me (and y’all) by using taxpayer money for a completely unnecessary temper tantrum. I’ve seen some pretty big dollar figures thrown around as far as how much the stop in Indiana cost, and I would have rather seen that money used in just about any other way.

 

 

There are approximately 30,000 gun related deaths per year in the United States. Our population is about 300 million. So about .0001% die as a result of guns. But let’s break it down even further: 65% of that 30,000 are suicides. 15% are self-defense/in the line of duty situations by law enforcement. 3% are accidental discharge deaths. That leaves 17%, or 5100 deaths due to “gun violence”…criminal activity, gang wars, drug activity, & mentally ill people committing murder. Of those 5100 deaths from gun violence about 25% occur in four major metro areas: Chicago, Baltimore, Washington DC, & Detroit…all of which already have strict gun control laws since the powers-that-be have mostly been leftists. Oh, speaking of which…23% of gun violence occurs in the state of California. Now I grant you…it’s a big state. But one cannot deny that it too…like those other areas…is run by liberals and has super tough gun laws. So essentially half of true gun violence in America happens in four big cities and one large state, all of which share similar political ideology and already have the most strident gun laws. Let’s also look at the fact that, in comparison to the 5100 deaths due to actual gun violence there are 40,000 drug overdoses, 36,000 people die from the flu, & there are 34,000 traffic fatalities annually. And in case you’re wondering…heart disease is responsible for over 700,000 deaths each year, yet no one is suggesting we ban fast food restaurants. Remember these numbers the next time you hear a politician or “journalist” say gun control is about saving lives, and understand that the truth is hiding in plain sight…it’s the word “control”.