"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just sadness .......

In my last blog I wrote about the grief a parent feels when their child moves away. But the reality is that is nothing compared to the grief parents and husbands and wives and friends were feeling on Friday morning when the news that their loved ones who had just gone to the movies were never coming home.

I do not understand it. I do not understand what would make a person want to hurt so many people .... people he had never even met.

It is sad when something like this happens, not only for the victims and their families but because of our memory. For the next month or so this is all people will talk about. And then they will stop. And then the trial of the gunman will start and it will be all people will talk about. And then they will stop. And then there will be debate and conversations about gun laws and it will be all people will talk about .... but by this point they will forget why they are talking about it. And then they will stop. And then the next tragedy will occur .... new faces and stories will be plastered on the news and the Internet and it will be all people will talk about. And then they will stop.

Since July 2011, over 146 people were shot and killed in random shootings like the one that happened at the Colorado movie theatre. People were shot and killed at a birthday party at a roller rink, a casino, a county fair, a basketball game, a town soccer game, IHOP, a psychiatric hospital, a religious vocational school .... just ordinary people going about their day when gunfire changed their world forever.

And it will happen again. John McCain actually said that there is no proof that gun control laws diminish gun violence. However, I was reading a blog earlier and found this quote interesting:

So I did a little research of my own and found a very interesting web page, gunpolicy.org: 
In England;
  • The right to have a gun is not a guarantee and if you want a license to carry a gun you have to prove you have a legitimate reason to have a gun (hunting counts).
  • In the United Kingdom, civilians are not allowed to possess semi automatic and automatic firearms, handguns and armour piercing ammunition.
  • In 2009 England had 724 homicides (1.2 for every 100,00 people), 18 of which were gun related.
  • The market cost of an AK-47 is $1,500.00 in England. 
In Australia;
  • Civilians are not allowed to possess automatic and semi-automatic firearms, self-loading and pump action shotguns, handguns with a calibre in excess of .38in with only narrow exemptions, semi-automatic handguns with a barrel length less than 120mm, and revolvers with a barrel length less than 100mm.
  • In Australia, the right to have a gun is not a guarantee and if you want a license to carry a gun you have to prove you have a legitimate reason to have a gun (hunting counts - but personal protection does not).
  • In 2009 Australia had 262 homicides (1.2 per every 100,000 people), 30 of those were gun related.
  • The market cost of an AK-47 is $600.00 in Australia.
In the United States;
  • The right to own a gun is guaranteed by law (I am not going to say it is guaranteed by the second amendment since I don't believe that it is).
  • Although it is a federal law that all people purchasing a gun must go through some kind of background check, and most states required a permit to carry a concealed weapon,  Gun permit laws vary by state in the US, here is some general information I came up with: 33 states, including Colorado, do not require a license to purchase a firearm.
  • In the United States, civilians are not allowed to possess machine-guns, sawed-off shotguns and rifles, silencers, and armour-piercing ammunition without appropriate registration.
  • In 2009 the United States had 15,241  homicides (4.96 per every 100,000 people), 9,146 of those were gun related.
  • Market Cost of an AK-47 in the US is $500.00.

It appears to me that the countries with tough gun laws have less gun violence. While I did not go through every country on the list - the ones I did look at seem to support this theory. Take that John McCain!

President Obama's words after his visit with the victims and families of the Colorado shooting described true grief & real sadness and his words were comforting. It is unfortunate that the other 134 American families that lost loved ones in mass shootings since July 2011 did not get such words of comfort and hope. This blog is for them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What they do not tell you about parenting ......

Grief:Noun \grēf\
1.       obsolete: grievance
2.       deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
a.       a cause of such suffering
3.       an unfortunate outcome : disaster —used chiefly in the phrase come to grief
a.       mishap, misadventure
b.       trouble, annoyance <enough grief for one day>
c.       annoying or playful criticism <getting grief from his friends>

When you become pregnant you begin getting all kinds of advice .... how to keep your children safe, what to feed them, the best schools, the best toys, discipline tactics, and on and on and on. And as your children get older there are books on how to parent toddlers, preschoolers, tweens and teens. How to get your kid in a good college - how to raise a good man - how to protect your children from bullies, drugs and bad influences. The list goes on and on.

And as a parent you are so caught up in the moment.

  • PTO meetings, soccer games, basketball, day trip adventures, playdough and legos and hot wheels.
  • Finding that one Christmas present they want more than anything in the world ... only to end up under the bed by summer.
  • Kissing boo-boos, cleaning throw-up at 3:00am.
  • Scouring E-bay to make sure all the school supplies have the same theme (at least on the first day).
  • Planning birthday parties on a budget.
  • Handing out discipline and responsibility even as the once loving eyes become daggers.
  • Keeping track of playdates, music lessons, practices, doctors appointments, school projects.
  • Remembering that you are their parent ... not the cool grandparents ... not the best friend.
  • Overcoming your own fears so they can dream and grow.
  • Going without so they don't have to.

Trying to photograph every moment because it is something new, or something special or something that makes you so so proud - even when they begin to refuse to smile.

Moments of a lifetime.

  • Taking away the monsters in the dark .... mending the first broken heart ..... the first steps, first words, first sleepover, first school trip, first broken heart, first ride as a passenger in their car.
  • Hoping that your child survives with minimal pain and heartache. Saving money all year for vacations that are fun - yet educational.
  • The moment when your child poses with his diploma in hand.

But no one prepares you for that one moment. That one random day when you are getting ready for work and your child looks you in the eye and says "I want to take control of my life and I can't do that here." And at the end of the day he is gone.
  • No one prepares you for the moment of grief and loss so strong you can't breathe.
  • No one prepares you for the anger so strong you want to break things and hurt someone so they feel your pain.
  • No one prepares you for the desire to grab your child and beg them to stay. The need to apologize for all the mistakes you know you made no matter how hard you tried not to.
  • No one prepares you for the echo of the empty room or the empty feeling in your chest because your heart has been ripped out.
  • No one prepares you for the sadness and the loss that turns again to anger because deep down you know they aren't hurting the way you are on their new adventure of freedom - the first real adventure without you.
  • No one prepares you for the gut retrenching physical pain that makes your chest hurt when you realize someone else has taken your place.
  • No one prepares you for the feeling of guilt - because logically you knew this day was coming at some point ... and you know he needs to live his own life .... but you are selfish and don't want him to go.

Where is the book that prepares you for this?
  • Where is the book that prepares you for the overwhelming fear because you will no longer know if he got home ok?
  • Where is the book that prepares you for the panic because you won't know if he is in pain - emotional or otherwise?
  • Where is the book that prepares you for tears that come so hard you can't catch your breath or those moments that catch you off guard and you are crying for no reason?
  • Where is the book that prepares you for the deep sense of loss so strong you are sure it will never go away?
  • Where is the book that teaches you how to maintain your need to stay connected at all costs .... with his need to not talk to you everyday?

What is the grief process for a child that lives 15 minutes away ..... so close but so out of reach. The advice I get now is give it time. But I have had 18 years to prepare for this moment .... and it just wasn't enough time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The American Heritage Dictionary defines GREED as: "An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines GREED as:  "a very strong wish to continuously get more of something, especially food or money."

The Urban Dictionary defines GREED as:
1. The defining characteristic of human nature. 2. The desire to own or control more resources than others. 3. The root of all evil.

Webster's Dictionary defines GREED as: "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed."

The Bible discusses GREED as:
Luke 12:15 ~ Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Proverbs 15:27 ~ "The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live."

There are hundres of quotes about GREED:
"Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power." P.J O'Rourke

"As time goes on we get closer to that American Dream of there being a pie cut up and shared. Usually greed and selfishness prevent that and there is always one bad applie in every barrel." Rick Danko

"Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction." Erich Fromm

So, why am I spouting off about Greed? I have spent a great deal of time defining and researching greed this morning. It was an article that popped up when I turned on my computer: Bailed-out AIG wants $30.2 million in tax interest.

I was shocked and dumbfounded. I mean wasn't AIG one of those companies that contributed to the mess we are all facing? Wasn't it my tax dollars that bailed them out and allowed them to post billions in profits this year? And yet they want more.

I have talked about it before and will probably vent about it again. I am not against capitalism. When the market economy began, as we moved from agriculture to industry, local business owners sole purpose was to turn a profit. That profit was then given back to the community ~ jobs, taxes, supply chain, civic improvements ~ and of course some went into the pockets of the business owners. The community gave to the business and the business gave to the community.

Today it seems that the community gives to the business - and we are not getting much in return. Corprations want more and more tax breaks - jobs are going overseas (and the ones that are here don't pay enough or have enough benefits for people to live) - they cut corners on safety - all in the name of the almighty profit. And in return for billion dollar profits and million dollar bonuses, crumbs are thrown to the peasents in the form of corporate social responsibility. It is the modern day fiefdom and our rulers are Exxon, Walmart, Nintendo and AIG.

Greed trickles down to the peasants as well. While there are examples of companies that are extremely socially responsible: Green Mountain, Stonyfield Farm, TOMS Shoes and ADIDAS, the are always examples of people who scam the system and take from the government without giving anything back. Both are exceptions to the rule. It always amazes me when people get angry about welfare and say things like "they should just get a job." Especially today, when companies like Home Depot only offer temporary 45 day seasonal employment with no benefits, someone would have to work 80 hours a week at $8.00 (minimum wage), to make $33, 280 a year (before taxes). And since those people would probably be working several part-time jobs, they wouldn't have health insurance or any benefits.

Greed comes in many forms, with many faces, and it angers me ~ but I am big enough to admit I am not immune - I spent the 4th of July doing the most American thing I could think of .... I went to the mall.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ......

Happy Birthday America .....

"Yesterday the greatest question was decided... and a greater question perhaps never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states."John Adams, Letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

Holidays are funny. They make you feel like you should be doing something holidayish. And if you are not, there must be something wrong.
  • For Thanksgiving you must have family for dinner.
  • For Christmas, again you must have family surrounding you and children's laughter ringing through the house.
  • For Valentine's Day there should be dinner and candles.
  • And on the 4th of July there has to be a cookout and fireworks with lots of friends.

But tonight I am sitting on the couch after a long day of work and I am listening to far away booms. And I feel like something is missing, though I can't seem to put my finger on it. I should be doing something - but I have no desire to do so. If this was any other Tuesday of the year (unless of course it was Valentine's day, or Thanksgiving or Christmas) I would be very happy sitting on my couch, watching TV and writing my blog. But tonight something seems off.

What would the founding fathers think? What were they doing 236 years ago? Were their families making potato salad and thawing hot dogs? I think not. I think they were worried about the country they were creating. They were at war, the country was in debt, they were creating rules and laws that others would  have to follow - were they the right rules - would the country survive? I envision men in their homes pacing and wondering. The big bangs thundering in the night coming from the "enemy" and stressing the importance of their work

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress,         Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." ~Declaration of Independence 1776

I spent quite some time looking for some quick quotes from the Founding Fathers for this blog. I found a few but I could not find any as perfect as the Declaration itself. Because on this night 236 years ago men were preparing for a meeting to create a "more perfect union."

It is unfortunate to me that the US Constitution has been so distorted to meet the needs of the people who choose to use it to support extremism (I include extremes on both the right and left). It is the same way people distort the Bible or the Koran. But I did find several that I found both amusing and relevant:

  • "We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate." ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" Benjamin Franklin, (attributed) at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

I have said it before and I will probably say it again. I LOVE my country. I am proud that this is part of my heritage (I am not naive, I know American has a less than stellar history in our treatment of people). But I am proud in the idea of America, I am proud that I have accomplished the American Dream (kind of). And I am proud that I live in a country where I can go to the Boston Common and stand on a soap box and scream at the top of my lungs that there are things about my government that I hate (I may get arrested for screaming - but not for saying I disagree with my government).

So tonight I leave you with the reason we celebrate - because on this day we chose independence. On this day we chose our own fate - instead of allowing others to choose for us. On this day we became one nation. I may not have anything special to do, there probably will not be a backyard full of people eating hot dogs and hamburgers at my house. But in my own way I say thank you to the founding fathers for igniting freedom -

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--