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

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.

Best of Fish & Bicycles: Video Fridays: Marvin Gaye

A friend of mine, in response to the news this morning from Boston, wrote on Facebook:

Here come the drum beats, the war cries, the schizoid retaliatory crimes…

Sadly, I think he’s right. This is how the cycle of violence rolls on and on and on.

As I tried to think of a video for today’s Video Fridays installment, I thought of an old favorite song of mine, a song that speaks to the senselessness of violence, but, as it turns out, I already featured this song in a Video Fridays installment, back in September 2011.

And so, since I kinda like what I wrote back then, I thought I’d just make this a Best of Fish & Bicycles post, and republish it.


What can I say, it’s been a pretty musical week here at Fish & Bicycles, with my posts yesterday and Tuesday, and now today’s Video Fridays installment features a song that came on Pandora this morning, a song I love a lot.

Marvin Gaye was a deeply soulful artist, a troubled human being like so many before and after him, and his untimely death at age 45, at the hands of his own father, was one of the harshest tragedies in a music history littered by untimely deaths.

In the 1971 classic What’s Going On, Gaye sings about mothers crying and brothers dying, and those lines always make me think fathers need to cry just as much as mothers.

Instead, in a sad foreshadowing of sorts, Gaye pleads, “Father, father, we don’t need to escalate.” (It should be said that he’s most likely referring to God the Father, but who knows?)

Anyway, the song speaks directly to my hippie heart (“Only love can conquer hate.”) and is filled with such intense longing, both lyrically and in the lush melodic arrangement.

Happy Weekend, everyone! Enjoy.

Boston Marathon Bombing: More On Violence & Pacifism

meditationAs a follow-up to my post from yesterday about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I find I have a little more on my mind on the topic.

I had a thought last night that really stunned me: As I was pondering this heinous act, it occurred to me that I could almost hear some talking head on some “news” program calling the bombing in Boston an act of cowardice…

…but, just let that sink in for a second…

…it was an act of cowardice…why?…because it would have been an act of bravery if the person or group had stuck around and fought and probably injured or killed more people?

Of course not!

And it seems to me that this rhetorical failure says something about the utterly irrational and destructive nature of violence.

At the same time, we seem to reserve the right to call someone brave for committing some acts of violence, such as acts of self-defense, or acts of rescue.

Yesterday, I referred to myself as a pacifist, but I really should clarify, for the sake of honesty, that I have never been able to confidently answer the questions inevitably asked of anyone willing to identify as a pacifist: What would you do if someone was trying to hurt someone you love? Or, as someone raised Jewish, anti-pacifists tend to LOVE throwing this one at me: Don’t you think it was justified to kill as many Nazis as possible in order to end the Holocaust?

It’s one of the great philosophical dilemmas. Is it not unethical and immoral to stand by and refuse to protect someone who is under threat of violence, even if it requires violence to repel the threat? Additionally, don’t humans, like other animals, have primal genetic encoding that drives us to fight for our survival and the survival of our families, clans, tribes, packs, herds, etc.?

Oh, you could dodge the question and get all intellectual, as I’ve tried to do in the past, claiming that the real solution is to rid the world of all violence, in which case, then, there would be no one attacking someone you love. And, while I’d still argue that it’s self-defeating cynicism to passionately insist, as most do when they argue this point, that ridding the world of violence will never happen, I know that violence cannot be abolished with a snap of the fingers.

So, there it is. The grey area of my pacifism. I only hope that one day the grey will clear and the sun will shine on the answer to these difficult questions.

The Boston Marathon & The Cycle Of Violence

meditationMy heart aches for the victims of the explosions today at the Boston Marathon

…just as it aches for all victims of violence everywhere, as well as the conditions that drive people to act out in violence.

I’m a longtime pacifist and aspiring Buddhist, who passionately agrees with the notion, commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

The belief, held by some, that injuring and killing people is ever warranted, for any reason, is just about the most alien, incomprehensible, indefensible concept that I can think of.

For sure, outrage is an understandable reaction to acts of this sort, and yet allowing that outrage to transform into a desire for revenge is at the heart of a cycle of violence that we humans are so tragically susceptible to.

I pray for peace.