"How else do you fight oppression?"
Ever since the Gun Control bill was voted down I have been stewing. It is an uncomfortable feeling for me, neither determined, nor apathetic. It is how I envision Purgatory. Having listened to many conversations on this topic, and after weighing the different arguments given, I finally felt compelled to put pen to paper. Note: I am not a Political Sciences or Constitutional scholar. I am a mother, a wife, a business person and a writer. The topic of Gun Control belongs to all of us, though, in a very personal way.
You should first know that I came into the discussion with a bias towards banning all weapons. I would have included all violent games and music in that as well had it been up for grabs. I have struggled to understand anyone’s arguments against gun control.
Recently, though, I heard a discussion about the Second Amendment which finally helped me understand it in a new light. The language around the second amendment is simple, stating (in the version passed by Congress in 1791):
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.
While the primary intent of these words has been debated, a very smart and knowledgeable friend pointed out to me that the fundamental purpose of the Second Amendment was as a means for keeping the government in check. She
felt that the idea of our forefathers was to provide ordinary citizens the ability to organize an armed militia in case the government ever decided to abuse its power.
It created an ‘aha’ moment for me. The entire Second Amendment finally made sense. I considered that an original cause of the revolution was the British Government trying to take their gun powder weapons. I thought of the early Americans, so scared that they would lay their life on the line only to have their rights taken away again by a new government. As I wrote in my blog recently, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So I finally got it and it made me feel so much closer to everyone who has been fighting against gun control (with the exception of the head NRA guy who I still think is just crazy). But after I had given the argument deeper thought I found a few disappointing flaws.
First, I think we all have to admit that governments no longer use guns as their primary weapons. They have bombers, and drones and chemical weapons to do their damage. And while they aren’t quite as advanced as the
government in the Hunger Games, I’m still fairly confident current military weapons would beat anything we ordinary
citizens could weal, even assuming we were well organized and trained.
Since I’m not too comfortable with the idea that the right to bear arms would include my neighbors stockpiling WMDs, I can’t understand where this leaves the Second Amendment.
My second thought was more of a question. Who exactly decides when the government is abusing its power? How do we even define ‘government’? Is it the President? Congress? The three branches of government? Most importantly, what exactly would we do if there was a new law that the majority of Americans wanted but the government blocked via an abuse of their powers. Could the founding fathers have foreseen that even when 90% of American’s would
have voted for gun control a handful of legislators could and would block it to ensure they maintained power their own, personal, power? Does anyone else feel this reeks of abuse?
We live in a wonderful, free, and mostly hopeful country and I would like to keep it that way. But if the purpose of the Second Amendment was to give us the power to fight government oppression, then why do I feel so powerless right now?
“You are brainwashed into thinking whatever the government tells you is legitimate.”
I grew up in a house that believed in many conspiracy theories. The JFK assassination, the first walk on the moon, the Pearl Harbor bombing; these things came along with the idea that somehow the government had created or facilitated each incident in order to progress their own agenda.
It is easy to fall into this pattern of thought. After all, our government doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence. Rather than prioritize what is best for the citizens, politicians make getting re-elected their top goal. After the disheartening gun control vote in the senate, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the citizen’s views don’t
“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”This quote by 19th century historian, Lord Maxim, is well known; certainly, I grew up reciting it. But more recent research has shown that there is a connection between someone’s moral identity (how strongly they feel it is for them to be fair, generous, caring, etc.) and how they use
power (more in this article at Smithsonian.com
And I would take this full circle. My hypothesis is that the lower a person’s moral identity, the more likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories under the assumption that if they were to gain power that is how they would act.
As a parent this begs the question of how to build strong moral identity in our kids. But as a citizen it makes me wonder whether there could be an objective test we could give to politicians before we elect them. It could become part of their running platform; Nominee xyz scored a 99% on the moral identity scale: Paid for by friend of xyz.
would there be a conspiracy to fix the results so the ‘right’candidate would be elected?
Phew! To be honest, I’m not sure what my moral identity score would be, but I know my laziness score is high... and conspiracy theories are simply too much work for me.
“They walk for miles with 40 lbs of water carried on their head.”
Our school has a travelling exhibit right now, brought to us by Africa Bridge, and showing what school life is like for kids in
Tanzania. It seems like a smart way for the kids to learn a little bit about a different culture (they particularly seem to like the soccer ball made from plastic bags and electrical tape.) What is missing, of course, is the true experience of what it feels like to actually walk those many miles lugging the water. It is missing the bugs and dirt and sanitation issues. Like many movies (The Best exotic Marigold Hotel comes to mind here,) it is a scrubbed up version of the reality.
On the other hand, things like the soccer ball and blackboard show that, while the environment may be different, many
activities are not so far off from what our own children experience in their own daily lives. One of my favorite books, Wake Up World; A Day in the Life of Children Around the World, produced by OXFAM, illustrates this point even more successfully. Kids wake up, eat, get clean, get dressed, go to school, play, help out, dream and sleep much as my own daughter does.
But the darker side of the reality is that many children, especially young girls, are not offered these experiences at all. Many spend their lives taking care of household chores and then being married at an early age to go and do this for their husband. They have no voice, no options, and frequently no ownership of anything, even their own bodies. Their lives are treated as a tool, to be used as needed.
I have been very proud to help support, and sometimes work with, an organization, BRAC, who through hands on work in countries throughout Asia, Africa (including Tanzania) and the Americas, helps to give women the options in life they deserve.
This week, as we celebrate the inauguration of our President, we should remember how valuable and hard won our freedom is. What better way to celebrate than to lighten the load of a child in a country without those freedoms. Below you will find an explanation (from our school newsletter) of the work Africa Bridge is doing and how you can help. You can also link to BRAC for more information about their programs as well. Thank you!
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Happy New Year, I am looking forward to working with your school on some important Africa Bridge
Africa Bridge is a Non-Governmental Organization founded in West Linn by Barry Childs. AB’s work is focused on
vulnerable children in the rural villages of the Mbeya region of Southwest Tanzania. Approximately one out of three
(33%) of the children are orphans due to HIV/AIDS and malaria. All orphaned or vulnerable children are taken in by
other families. We establish income generating agricultural cooperatives for those families supporting orphaned and
vulnerable children. Part of the income from the cooperatives goes to village Most Vulnerable Children Committee
which purchases school uniforms and health insurance for these children. The school uniform enables children
to go to school. The remaining income significantly improves the living and nutritional lives of these families.
AB also builds health clinics and school classrooms for these villages.
This is My School project, part of Africa Bridge, which connects vulnerable schools in rural Tanzania with school
children in the United States. Our goal is to support the educational needs of the Most Vulnerable Children in
Tanzania through the expansion and improvement of their educational facilities and equipment.
Africa Bridge works with local villagers to help the Most Vulnerable Children get the support and resources necessary
to attend school. This effort has been so successful that the number of children attending school has significantly
increased leading to crowded classrooms. US schools partnerships help fulfill the need for more classrooms, desks,
and other school room resources.
These partnerships create an authentic experience for US students to engage in being world citizens and to learn about
the African experience. Contact us for more information. Emily Pollard Emily@africabridge.org
503-699-6162 or Roger Woehl 503-360-3597. Learn more at www.africabridge.org
Past projects supported in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District include partnering with Pakati Primary in 2011 and
Katusyo Primary Schools in 2012 to help construct new classrooms, toilets, repairs, desks, and school supplies.
Introducing the 2012-13 Project: Mpombo Schools.Mpombo Ward has 5 primary schools and 1 secondary
school. This is the second year for AB to work in the Mpombo Ward (out of a five year project). The schools
range in size from 325 to 530 students. Average class size is 75 students per teacher.
Our priorities for the next several years are classroom desks, teacher toilets and completion of classroom already under
construction. Our goals for this year are to secure funding for 250 desks ($10,750) and four teacher toilets ($5,800).
We will be visiting over the next several weeks. Our model classroom will be in the library and I will be
meeting with students to teach a little about Tanzania and Africa. We will learn a little Kiswahili too. Come join us.
Asante Sana (Thank You)
Roger L. Woehl
“Who first coined the term, Fiscal Cliff?”
So, have I mentioned before that words matter? Maybe a time of two, huh? Well, this is a perfect example. When the committee for budget reform couldn’t come up with a solution, they put in place severe consequences if a
deal was not reached by January 1, 2013. Bernanke said it created a “Fiscal Cliff” and thus the term was born.
In reality it is more like a Fiscal Slope… but as I learned in grad school, perception is everything. And so, while the result of the Fiscal Cliff will take a long long time to be felt, certainly long enough to have created a deal, my guess is that this won’t matter. January 1st, the market will crash and throw the economy into a tailspin even though no one, technically, at that point will feel the pain.
What if Ben Bernanke had called it a Fiscal Slope? What would have happened then? Would the public understand that there was still some time to get things fixed before the spending cuts and tax hikes hit our wallets? Probably. And this is why every news organization is now trying to clarify this point.
But, the damage has been done. Ask almost anyone why lawmakers are working to create a deal, and the words they will use are, “Fiscal Cliff”.
As writers we work hard to create the right images for our story. Why? Because we know that these images, like a picture book in people’s brains, add depth to the story. A friend and I recently got into a debate about whether I used the “F” word in my story, BETTING JESSICA.
I assured her I never would. But she swore I had. After a thorough
search I confirmed that the closest I had gotten was “what the…” Did any other readers fill in the blank there with the “F” word? Presumably so. Had I used the term, “huh?” would readers have done the same thing? No way!
It’s too late now to revise “Fiscal Cliff” in the public’s mind. The picture is drawn and January 1st we will fall off of it, even if it originally only looked like a slope. I am fairly sure, through the power of words, it has transformed into a cliff now anyway.
*******Don't forget.... Tomorrow, Novemeber 30th, I'll be posting my Free Read on - Free Reads for the Genre-istas. It's a super fun Holiday story so go check it out!
“He looks weird.”
Three boys were using their library time to goof off, so I asked if I could help them find a book to read. One of the boys answered, cockily, “Sure, how about a book about Obama’s economic policies.” Given that he was probably eight, maybe nine years old, I sincerely doubted he even knew what an economic policy was. But, information is power, so I took all of the boys over and showed them the biography section of the library.
After a quick tutorial on how to find, alphabetically, biographies on the President, I asked the boys if any of them would want to be President someday. Not surprisingly, the cocky one said yes, but the other two shook their head. One of them, tellingly, explained that he wouldn’t want so many people to dislike him.
They looked at pictures of the President in the books, and again, the cocky one laughed and said the above overhear about our President. It was finally at this point that I lost it.
“You do not disrespect the President of the United States, ever!” I told them. “You can absolutely disagree with his, or her perhaps someday, policies or choices, but no matter what, it is a difficult job that they have taken on and they deserve our respect for that.”
It hit home…. And the boy was finally quiet. At least until after I walked away.
I will reiterate this truth I believe in, our words have power, even more so when we are speaking them as adults around children. What we say and how we say it goes right into their head and without the context to understand our emotions, they none the less pick up on our beliefs. And I am not talking about our policy beliefs… I am talking about our moral beliefs. For example, how we treat people even when we disagree with them.
To riff an old jazz song; It ain’t what you say it’s the way that you say it! That’s what gets results.
BTW - I think Obama looked very cute in the picture.
- BETTING JESSICA readers please note –
Next week I am re-releasing an updated version of BETTING JESSICA. On Thursday November 15th (a week from today) I will have a one day free promotion so that you can grab the revised version if you want it for your
Also, if you liked reading about Jessica’s foil, Cynthia, in BETTING JESSICA then you might like to read a free story about her coming out November 30th on Free Reads from the Genre-istas. Check it out at: http://freereadsfromthegenre-istas.blogspot.com/
Finally, we are looking at the end of February for the release of my next novel, UNTANGLING THE KNOT. I’ll keep everyone updated here and on my home page.
Thanks so much for sharing the journey.
“This election is a joke.”
It is election day, and around the country people (who haven’t already) are attempting to cast their ballots. It isn’t only the federal election that demands participation. On a state and local level the battles are just as serious and ferocious. I suppose that is why, though it might be a joke, no one is laughing.
So I thought I would add a little bi-partisan humor to your day; something to make you smile as you waited in line to vote or, anxiously, for the results to be tallied. You might be a….Republican if:
- You’ve named your kids, deduction one and deduction two.
- The only union you support is the baseball players, because heck, they’re richer than you are.
- You don’t think “The Simpsons” is all that funny but you watch it because that Flanders fellow makes a lot of sense.
- When people say Marx, you think Groucho.Democrat if:
- You own something that says, “Dukakis for President,” and still display it.
- You’ve never been mugged; you give it away.
- You got teary-eyed during the film, “The American President.”
- Your house smells like a garbage dump because of your commitment to recycling.The Secret of Success… is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.All I ask… is the chance to show that money won’t make me happy. (Ashleigh Brilliant)I wanted to go to… the paranoids anonymous meeting; but they wouldn’t tell me where it was.
(For all you conspiracy theorists out there.)If all the world is… a stage, then where is the audience sitting?Everything should be made…as simple as possible, but no simpler.Why isn’t there a tax… on stuff I don’t like?
And finally…Everything is controlled by…a small, evil group to which, unfortunately, no one we know belongs.
Voting is not a joke… it is a right and a privilege. So GO! Appreciate this gift of democracy.
(This blog is dedicated to my brother, Michael Sprinkle
, for getting involved. Good Luck, Michael!)
“Researchers are experimenting with feeding squirrels birth control.”
Sign me up! Due to the mild winter and a bumper crop of nuts the squirrel population is exploding. Researchers
could look no further than my backyard for evidence of this. I’ve got a family of squirrels that seems to be multiplying like crazy.
But what to do about them? I have joked with my husband that it could be good practice for my archery skills (though I don’t think I am quite good enough to hit one yet and I’m pretty sure animal control and PEETA from on
this). So birth control sounds like a more reasonable approach.
Still, as one person commented on the NPR transcript… since we can’t even figure out whether birth control is morally ok for humans, should we be giving it to squirrels? A new gallup pole has found, in fact, that social issues like birth control and abortion are top issues during this election for women in swing states. So birth control for rodents might be walking a fine line.
On the precedence side I’m pretty sure we do
already spray fruit flies to keep them from propagating. Is it that big of a leap to go to squirrels? And then, if not…. There are quite a few countries I have heard of where wild cats and dogs are a huge nuisance. Take, for example, this article in the NY Times
Ohhhh, and such a cute picture.
You wouldn’t want to stop this dog from having a little litter of puppies, would you?
Apparently India also has a problem with nuisance monkeys. And, you’ll see from this article they are
taking procreation out of the monkey’s hands:Metro News:nuisance-monkeys-captured-and-neutered-in-india
So, where does this leave us with the squirrels? Perhaps if we gave them a choice they would appreciate the birth control option. After all, the mommy and daddy squirrel in my backyard can’t be too happy that there are now
three little extra squirrels competing for our BBQ scraps and my dog’s attention.
“Why can’t Obama be more like Clinton?”
Seeing as how this was coming from my very conservative father, it piqued my interest. It turns out he was comparing their positions on helping small business. It took me a couple of days to go in and do my own research on this but here is what I found:
-Sept. 2010, CNN reported: President Barack Obama signed into law a $42 billion bill to aid small businesses Monday, saying it would create jobs by providing tax credits and helping banks increase loans.
-Feb. 2012, CNN Money reported: The government program, one of President Obama's many attempts to
pump capital into small firms, disbursed only $4 billion of the $30 billion it was allotted.
The original bill, in Feb. 2012 was designed to help small businesses acquire much needed financing . Unfortunately, as one journalist points out there were two problems: small banks were using it to clear their balance sheets instead of lending it out; and small businesses weren’t convinced that demand would support expansion.
-Jan. 2012, The Business Review reported: President Barack Obama’s proposal to consolidate government programs for business into one agency could make it easier for small businesses to find the information and resources they
They also pointed out it could dilute small business’ voice… but in the near-term this is avoided, because Obama elevated the SBA administrator’s post to a Cabinet-level position...
Something it hasn’t been since Clinton’s administration.
To be fair, there are many very real reasons why small businesses favor Romney in the election. But comparisons of Romney to Clinton seem simplified, like reading a picture book version of Anna Karenina rather than Tolstoy’s original. This seems to me to be exactly what media would like us to do; ignore the difficult details and accept instead a snap-shot as handed to us by whatever partisan group has the money to spend.
I have mentioned before that I have a penchant for wearing rose colored, historical glasses. Now I see that I may
have inherited this from my father, who with the distance of time (and a lack of negative ads) has finally begun to acknowledge some of the positive things Clinton accomplished.