A Dream Deferred: Thoughts On Dallas In Two Quotes

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

Guns, Cancer, Money & National Priorities

cancer-gunI’ve written a number of posts in response to the gun violence problem in this country, mostly expressing my dismay and outrage that our government has done little to nothing to address the problem, while thousands die every year.

Thankfully, my life has not been directly touched by gun violence. No one I know has been a victim of a shooting. But I abhor violence of all kinds, and I feel genuine pain and sadness with every death reported in the media and at the thought of the thousands that I never hear a thing about.

And all the while I find it unconscionable that nothing is being done about this.

Over the same period, namely the past few years, another trend was going on that I didn’t see as connected … until this week.

While no one I know has been a victim of gun violence, over the past few years an increasing number of people I know, as well as people I have admired and have been inspired by from afar, have been diagnosed with and/or have died from …

… cancer.

In the past few months alone I have simply lost count. Cancer feels closer to me than ever before, even though I lost my mother to the disease years ago, and even though I’m a survivor myself, of a rare and not terribly dangerous deep tissue skin cancer, diagnosed and treated in 2001, and cancer-free ever since.

It seems that every other day I hear of someone else battling or losing the battle with cancer. Just this past weekend I visited a dear friend in the hospital who has been through unimaginable hell during his treatment.

And today, the thought suddenly occurred to me:

If I’m outraged by the lack of action from our government on gun violence, what about our government’s efforts to address the cancer epidemic, which kills MANY more people per year than guns?

guns-cancer

Looking at the $5.21 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute — the U.S. federal cancer research organization — it might seem like our government is doing a heckuva lot.

BUT, when you consider that the U.S. government spends over 100 TIMES THAT ($599 billion) on the military, with over 10 TIMES the cancer budget alone ($64 billion) spent specifically on our new-normal perpetual war, and if you consider that another national and international crisis needing urgent attention, climate change, only gets $21 billion…

… well, that’s a clear case of fucked up national priorities.

Like Bringing A Knife To A Gunfight vs. Like Bringing A Gun To A Dog Park

no-guns-allowed-bloody

Like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

–Origin unknown

You know that old saying, used frequently as a metaphor for entering into a situation inadequately equipped or prepared?

Well, consider this example of the opposite scenario:

So, this past weekend, my wife and I and our dog Zuki were at the dog park at nearby Lake Padden, nestled amongst gorgeous frost-covered trees at the south end of the lake, the dogs were playfully sniffing and chasing each other around, it was so peaceful…

… and then I saw the gun …

… in a holster on the hip of a guy dressed all in black, with a U.S. flag patch on one of the upper sleeves of his jacket, the owner of a Great Dane twice the size of all the other dogs in the park …

… and I instantly felt flooded by a wave of nausea and fear …

… and my brain tried to make sense of the cognitive dissonance.

I tried to imagine just how awful it must be to live in so much fear that you feel you have to bring a gun to a dog park.

But, then I thought of the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S., and how some people think that there would be fewer mass shootings if more people were armed, because, they say, there would be more of a chance of someone being at the scene who could shoot and kill the shooter before he kills or before he kills many, even though there’s no evidence that this is true.

And then I thought, even if this guy was somehow motivated by a warped, misguided sense of civic duty, a desire to protect others, nevertheless, his mere presence and the deadly weapon he carried literally terrorized me, AND he’s allowed, by law, to do so, in my otherwise great home state of Washington, without a license or permit.

And finally, I realized that the other people in the U.S. who are legally allowed to carry guns are police, and the only reason I don’t feel terrorized by their presence is because I’m a white male.

Fear and guns.

Is this really the land of the free?

…all in the name of freedom
Freedom is not domination
I believe
Freedom’s got to come from within
Yes it does
Not with the gun
Freedom’s the ability to feel love for everyone

Mason Jennings

Cognitive Dissonance Hurts My Brain

headache-smileyNot much else to say about this, other than what my post title suggests.

The cognitive dissonance in a piece this morning at NPR.org hurts my brain (emphasis added by me in bold):

A vigil was held in Roseburg, Ore., last night, hours after a man killed nine people at the local community college. Investigators say the man behind Thursday’s shooting is also dead — and the local sheriff says he’ll never say that man’s name in public. Seven people were wounded in the attack.

“I will not give him the credit he probably sought, prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” Sheriff John Hanlin said in a briefing about the shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Hanlin later told CNN that he doesn’t want “to glorify his name or his cause.”

The alleged gunman is 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, who lived in a town near Roseburg, a logging community with around 22,000 residents.

Godamn Guns

no-guns-allowed-bloodyAs of this writing, 9 people are dead, slaughtered today by a now-dead-as-well gunman at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
A slogan used by gun rights advocates

See, the problem with this statement is that if we wait until a gun owner is dead before we pry their weapon(s) from their rigor mortis hands, there is a very good possibility that the gun owner has already killed people.

Newtown

It’s a paradox.

There’s the old cliché that words fail, that events like the horrific shooting today in Newtown, CT leave us speechless.

And yet, I find that I just can’t stay silent.

I can’t have the post from this morning, however much I’m happy with it, be the last thing I say here today at Fish & Bicycles. To do so, it seems, would give the impression that I am either living with my head in the sand, or I’m so insensitive as to act like nothing happened, or that I’m carrying on as if my heart isn’t aching.

As President Obama said earlier today, those of us with children will all be hugging our children tighter tonight.

Also, in response to gun apologists who want to deflect blame by claiming that anyone using this tragedy as an excuse to bring up gun control is politicizing a tragedy, I think John Fugelsang has it right:

That said, while guns are indeed a HUGE part of the problem, there are accompanying societal issues going on here that desperately need attention. We have to do something about both of these factors.

So there. I’ve said what I needed to say.

My son finished his first big stint in high school today, and the only bright spot in my day was receiving the text he sent as soon as class was out:

Winter Bbbbbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaak!!!!!!!

I’m gonna go home now and heal my heart with my wife and son, so incredibly grateful for them and their safety.

I.Hate.Guns.

Sorry to start out the week on such a downer, but I just can’t hide my deep sadness at the relentless gun-violence madness in the news lately.

July 14, 2012

Father shoots 3-year old son, himself

Same exact day: July 14, 2012

Boy, 3, accidentally shoots, kills father in Indiana home after finding his loaded gun

July 20, 2012

Colorado shooting victims total 71, with 12 dead

If not madness, what else can this be?

Gun proponents, whether you’re shooting at animals that you intend to consume or paper targets at a range, how important is this pastime to you? Is it so important that you’d oppose gun control that could prevent senseless deaths of men, women and children?

How many accidental domestic gun deaths will it take before the lesson is learned that guns in our homes don’t necessarily make us safer, but rather, all too often, result in the antithesis of safety?

Given the oft-quoted definition of insanity, that it is marked by doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results, for the long-term survival of humanity, isn’t it about time that we try something different?

Isn’t it about time that we put down our guns and focus our attention on preservation rather than destruction?