Too much gun violence

I’m somewhat dismayed today. It’s Saturday morning, July 1, 2017. My newspaper is usually on my front deck by now, but for some reason the deliverer is late with it. This disruption in my morning routine, leads me to my computer earlier than usual. I turn it on and the first thing that pops up is a news alert about a night club shooting in my home town of Little Rock, Arkansas. The report says that seventeen people were shot. I’m not a gun owner, and I’m not one who thinks we should take guns out of the hands of everyone. However, I do wholeheartedly believe that gun violence has gone entirely too far in America, and something needs to be done. Little Rock has gained a reputation for gun violence, and this mass shooting just takes it over the very top.

I was reared in a rural setting, where my grandfather and all my uncles owned guns. They used them for practical reasons, hunting food. Because we were poor, anything that could be done to supplement food stuffs was done. My grandfather made hunting a regular part of his activities, during hunting season to provide for his family. There was no thought of using a gun to settle an argument. Today, it seems many don’t see the value in verbally going at it to settle disputes. If you have a gun, you’re prepared to take a life over any conflict that might leave you on what you perceive to be the losing side. The shame of being dissed is just too much for some folks to take.

America has a love for guns, or at least that’s my opinion. This connection is one that I will never understand. It seems to be a daily lead story in some city newspaper, or local television broadcast that someone has been rendered lifeless in senseless gun violence. Citizens are buying guns to protect themselves from perceived threats that, oftentimes, aren’t imminent at all. People hear news reports of violence in their city, and they are motivated to purchase a gun, having never owned one in their lives before. Teachers are anxiously waiting to teach them all they need to know to protect themselves with a gun. My town, Little Rock Arkansas is one of America’s communities that has experienced a marked increase in murders resulting from gun violence. The numbers thus far this year have garnered us the reputation of being one of the most dangerous places in the country to live. Those of us who live here know that there are specific places in the city where violence is more likely to occur. If you don’t live in one of those areas, or venture into one of them, the chance of being victimized are reduced.

In all of the reports of deaths from gun violence in our country, I find it odd that our governmental leaders, who are in control in Washington, aren’t making many comments. I suppose whenever social ills are politicized and there are opportunities for corporate gains, our politicians are hesitant to speak up. Out all that’s been happening, I have no answers…just an observation: There’s too much gun violence.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

P.S. I wrote this piece four months ago. Since then we’ve seen the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada and Southerland, Texas.

The absurdity of racism

From the time I was a very young child, with a sense of self-awareness, I’ve tried to be an observer of all that’s around me. Oftentimes, I think I’ve been good at connecting to my surrounding, but at other times, I think I’ve been caught up in them, not objectively discerning as well as I would’ve wished. One venue I use regularly for observing life is the Tavis Smiley show, which comes on the Public Television Network. I’ve found this to be one of, if not the best of its kind when it comes to presenting the stories of normal people doing extra-ordinary things in their lives. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Tavis interview Joe Morgan, the actor who plays Olivia’s daddy on the TV show Scandal. Morgan was talking about a one-person play he’s doing where he’s portraying the late Dick Gregory, comedian and social activist. Morgan talks about the absurdity Gregory saw in racism. One scene in the play has Morgan portraying Gregory asking to be served in a restaurant, during the times of segregation. Gregory approaches a white waitress and asks for service. The waitress proceeds to let him know that they don’t serve Negroes. Gregory is quick to let her know that that’s okay, because he doesn’t eat Negroes. The absurdity of racism is made very clear in humor.
Racism, sexism, ageism, racial superiority, and all forms of derogatory considerations used to separate other human beings from the premier quality of human existence is absurd. The environment in our country has grown ripe for allowing discrimination and hatred to poke their ugly heads from beneath the cover of political correctness. Political correctness has been that weak coat of behavior-modifying varnish that causes embarrassment in polite circles of one who might use a racial slur. It’s been active for the last few decades or so, but it’s been ineffective at ridding our society of the deep-seated hatred of those who don’t look like us, or don’t conform to our concept of what we should all look or behave like. The absurdity of looking at another human being and considering them less than a creature made in the image of God is sick.
Many of us have seen ads critical of racism, where small children of different races are playing together, and the caption reads something like, “none of us is born to hate.” The meaning, of course, is that at some point in the socialization process these precious little ones are taught to look at another human being and consider them to be less than members of their social group. There is no empirical evidence to support that conclusion. That person isn’t the same color, isn’t of the same religious group, or somehow isn’t quite like members of my family, community, or subculture. Because of that, they don’t deserve the same amount of respect I have to give to all human beings. Isn’t that absurd?

I look at you and you look at me and all I see is an image that’s been painted by someone else; an image that doesn’t exist. Neither of us chooses to take the time to see each other for who we are as an individual, who might be more like us than not. The absurdities in how we interact, or choose to not interact with each other hold all of us back from enjoying a supportive and peaceful existence.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.