Thursday, September 1, 2016

AMERICAN POLITICS READY FOR CHANGE

Personally, I have been doing extremely well avoiding the negative rhetoric by and about the current presidential candidates. I have really made use of my TV remote mute button, and other than reading the headlines (which are often as disturbing as reading the whole piece), I'm not reading any more news articles online that mention the campaign or its participants. I promise you, I have been sleeping and feeling much better. 

However, this morning I received the following piece from my older son, Craig. Alex is an "interim" Unitarian Universalist minister, and was until recently the minister at my grandson Cameron's church in Fort Worth. Alex is also a practicing Zen Buddhist. He and Craig met and became close friends. I thought it would be interesting to share what he wrote. I agree with so much of what he has to say, but I truly hope he is wrong about "something terrible is going to happen this year". I have to admit that I have felt the same way at times, but I have tried to erase those thoughts and feelings from my consciousness, and replace them with prayers for "the highest and best" for our country.


What I appreciate about Mr. Trump (no, really...)
...Rev. Alexander (Alex) Holt

Image result for Alex Holt, Unitarian"Anyone who knows me would raise eyebrows at the idea that I could appreciate anything about Mr. Trump. I have run into people similar to him who are cheerful con artists and who could convince you to give them your most cherished possession and then would be willing to sell it back to you for a steep fee. I'm not sure even how skillful he is in such ways.

This is what I appreciate about this loathsome and rather pathetic individual:

First, I am convinced that a trickster archetypal figure would have eventually created chaos and havoc in a political system that has become dysfunctional and warlike at a national level. Bernie Sanders could have been one as well but I am thinking here of Mr. Trump. He has ripped the band-aid off of the deep psychic and emotional wounds that the Republican Party has fostered on itself since the Goldwater campaign. When a political system is in paralysis it can take only a small push from an unexpected direction to have it all come apart. I think both political parties are due for some serious reform movements.
Image result for political party symbols
Second, the Republican Party (and I suspect the Democratic Party as well down the road) will have to go through a reshaping and possibly a realignment of political parties. I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican establishment figures attempt to bring the party back under their control by breaking it off of the more fundamentalist portion.

Third, people like myself have been appalled by the nasty and deeply offensive words used online by people who are able to hide behind anonymous identities. Mothers would resort to soap in such peoples' mouths were they to hear such language and lack of civility. That said, I think that the venting of emotional pus in America today is at least a start to bring the poison to the surface. Governor Le Page in Maine is an example. His anger and bluster echoes the feelings of others. My point is that those feelings of rage, anger, fear, humiliation, etc. have been there couped up in peoples' heads for many years. That deep anger is - I think - just under the surface for Americans regardless of age, race, political label or region.

Those are three reasons why I think Mr. Trump (or someone like him) was necessary to come along. My worry continues to be that the seething rage under the surface in America might break out in unpredictable ways either before or after the 2016 election. I've said before that I worry that something terrible is going to happen this year. If such a tragedy happens I hope it doesn't alter the healing that 'might' come after this election is done and America looks at the rubble of how far our national political system has paralyzed itself.

My mood is optimistic, however. I have met and listened to fellow Americans of all types during my life. Nearly all of them are generous and kind people. Some have shorter fuses and less tolerance than others. Most would stop on the side of a road to help a stranger in distress (especially in the South).

I think that liberal and conservative fundamentalism is a natural outcome to the years since World War II. My belief is that the vast majority of Americans who are the above kind and tolerant people will have their voices heard.

Could I be wrong and full of it? Of course. However, I still believe that we are capable of doing great things as Americans. We can be exceptionally good and exceptionally bad. We had a choice after 9/11. We still have a choice. The good old days weren't. The world isn't a safe place. We Americans have to be used to being part of the world now rather than safe behind our oceans."

I believe we are capable of doing great things, too, Alex. Hold that thought.

Love and Peace,
Marilyn

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Then I hit the mute button..


Six years ago this month I wrote the following article. For some reason, I ran across it this morning and realized I needed to say these things again. Not so much for my readers as for myself. In this post I state truths that I believe, but have not been practicing in recent times. I have "strayed from the path" so to speak. 
(jacquesdevilliers.com)

So many of the events taking place when I first posted this are occurring again today -- with additional people involved in them. Good news is that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and their philanthropic organization The Giving Pledge are flourishing. The number of billionaires who have pledged to give half of their worth to charitable causes to improve the world has grown. If one looks at all the good that they and others like them working on behalf of the betterment of our world, their accomplishments far outweigh the actions of those we hear about in the media trying to promote the negative and hate that seems to run rampant in today's politics.

I am continuing my efforts to refrain from listening to and reading the worst of the news. It is difficult to catch what little news that does not cover the election campaigns or the atrocities of war taking place. I'll keep trying. But then I think of "nonresistance". I feel that sometimes I'm "damned if I do and damned if I don't". When I hear something now that raises my hackles or strikes fear in my heart, I try to let it just run off me like water off a duck's back. My version of nonresistance. Then I hit the mute button.

"..I'LL DEFEND TO THE DEATH.."


Lest some of you think from reading my last blog entry that I condone censorship, I must fall back on my French ancestry by quoting the famed philosopher/writer, Voltaire: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

(Photo of First Amendment [free speech] Zone at 2004 Democratic National Convention)

I was half-joking when I remarked that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates would be doing us all a favor by paying some of the more obnoxious people who's voices are so strident in the land today to "stay home and shut up." Of course, they have a right to speak their minds.. even when they are spouting lies and half truths, and even when they are advocating violence, as some do. If I truly supported censorship, I would not have suggested they "pay them"!

In light of this, I'd like to state that I am sorry if I offended any of my readers of this blog. I did not start this blog to be a forum for dissension or political debate. If some of my words create a need for such, I suggest these debates take place in a different forum, such as Facebook or one of the many political blogs already doing so. Or... you may start your own blog. I am happy to print your comments, but I will not be dragged into a heated discussion on issues that are important to each of us. My own opinions, as I am sure yours have as well, have been formed over many, many years of study, observation, and personal experiences.

I have suffered many experiences that would cause most people to view the government, law enforcement, and the "establishment" in general with much suspicion and indeed, fear, as so many seem to be doing today. I choose not to live my life in fear. I choose not to believe the "voices of doom" or the conspiracy theories so loudly proclaimed in our land. I choose not to believe President Obama or the current administration - whom I proudly voted for - have anything but the best interests of this country at heart. I choose not to view with suspicion people of color who may or may not be in this country legally. I choose not to believe that people of a different faith than mine are somehow unacceptable anywhere in this country.

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"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935
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I choose not to believe that rallies that are prone to incite violence and promote dissension are the way to solve the enormous problems we face in our country. The voting booth is my preferred way, and words spoken in an honest, calm, and deliberate way by me as well as the candidates I support.

I choose to believe in the edict issued by some religions to practice "nonresistance". What we resist, we do maintain. That is often very difficult to practice, especially in today's world. Carrying signs proclaiming the power of love is very different from those proclaiming anger, hate, and ignorance. As Mother Teresa said, "Let me know when you give a march for peace." Do not ask me to support a march to "take back our country", especially when many of those making these statements vow to "carry a gun"..and some blatantly do so.

I suggest that many of those would do better by arming themselves with facts and the truth of the issues they think they are supporting.

*********************
Enough of that. I had a delightful visit yesterday with my "boys". We ate a huge "brunch", then - even with full stomachs - they decided to play golf anyway. Craig later returned and told me that they had a really "fun" game, putting aside their initial competitiveness about half-way through the 18 holes, and just plain old enjoying themselves. I wish I had been on the golf course to photograph them, but I located an older photo of another time they played golf. I might add that Matthew does not wear a beard now. (I don't think!) Craig, however, still does.

I am indeed a proud mom. We had some really good discussions, and I have great hope for the future of both of my sons. They are both intelligent, warm, loving human beings, who are raising children to be the same.

I love you guys,
Mom (Marilyn)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Butterfly Wings..


For years I saved a yellowed newspaper clipping of a short poem that began:
"Look small, into the wings of things.
Concentrate time.."

I've either lost or misplaced that little clipping during one of my many moves. I wish I could find it. The huge events taking place in our world today make me want to "look small" and "concentrate time" to only the present moment.

During the past year I have gradually strayed from routines that kept me in positive, optimistic moods. In going over some of my older blog posts, especially from a few years back, I realize I have changed. I no longer see the world events through innocent eyes; no longer am I able to readily summon my alter ego, Pollyanna. My spiritual and/or inspirational books lie gathering dust on my night table, only partially read. I've cut my daily devotional readings from several books down to only two publications. I have become more and more isolated.

I suspect some of the above have to do with growing older, coupled with physical ailments that limit my personal interaction with positive people. I am most thankful for the technology that has brought instant contact with others through our many devices. It doesn't take the place of personal touch and interaction, but it is reassuring to be able to reach loved ones quickly and easily. However, these devices come with drawbacks. The computer and television keep us connected not only to friends and loved ones, but also to the world at large. Therein lies my problem.
"BREAKING NEWS"

I have become a news junkie! Sights and sounds from everywhere in the world are always at my fingertips. Morning, noon, and night I watch the TV broadcast and PBS news.. Thank goodness, I don't have cable. I would probably keep the news channels on all day, and never get anything done. When the TV news is over, I turn to the Internet. Wow! News is always available -- faster there than the broadcast news can present it.

I have tried to limit my news intake. I have wonderful "good news" sites I read to break the hold the often dreadful happenings around the world have on me. In the U.S., the presidential campaigns of the past year seem to monopolize the news, and draw me back in to practice my addiction. The campaigns and the mass shootings that have been taking place here and abroad can traumatize one with the violence and hatred being transmitted on a daily basis. Particularly now in the election campaign being run by the GOP candidate. The world thinks we are crazy to have someone like him running for the highest office in the land of the most powerful country in the world. Personally, the things he says makes me believe the man is a little bit (maybe a lot) crazy himself.

"Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn't try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself."
...Tao Te Ching

When I recently was sent a political email by an old classmate who is obviously a Trump follower, I found myself going into "attack mode". What is happening to me? I discovered a partial answer in an article by George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist, Understanding Trump

It seems, according to Mr. Lakoff, it has to do with our brain circuitry. According to his research, we each have "two moral worldviews that in general contradict each other" characterized by the neural circuitry in the brain. In other words, a conservative may have some progressive positions and a progressive might adopt some conservative opinions. According to Lakoff, these two are linked together by a common neural circuit he calls "mutual inhibition." Apparently, the language one hears (or reads?) activates one or the other, strengthening it...and weakening the other.

Here it gets interesting. "..The more Trump's views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of  moderate progressives.".."This is true even if you are attacking Trump's views....It doesn't matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump."  (He's a Braineater!)  In other words:

"What you focus on, increases."

Yikes! No wonder I've been in such a pessimistic mood lately. On the one hand, Trump keeps pounding his message that the country is going to hell in a handbasket, and on the other, his detractors (including me) are incessantly reminding us of the doom we face if Trump is elected. No wonder Trump is everywhere! What we don't need  is more Trump. I must begin to mute every mention of Trump's name on the TV news, and skip over articles that give every detail of his every move and tactless blunders. Fat chance, huh? Maybe I won't need to bother if it's true what many pundits are saying -- that Trump is on his way out as the GOP nominee. 

Mr. Lakoff's article explains the Trump phenomena in great detail. It gives one pause when we are listening to any candidate. It explains a lot how dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini rose to power. I encourage you to read it, no matter how you view yourself, conservative or progressive.

I added a couple of my devotionals to my reading today. I feel better already. As for "time", the present moment is all we have. To all my dear friends and loved ones, even when I'm not blessed with your physical presence, I spend time with you in my thoughts and prayers. I dedicate this song to you. 


Peace and love,
Marilyn

Sunday, July 10, 2016

They shall not be moved!

This past week has been filled with many heart-breaking stories and images. The massacre of police officers in Dallas was particularly disturbing. A sniper at any kind of demonstration -- no matter who the targets are -- seems to align America in the realm of terror-ridden countries around the world. If this occurs in Dallas, where will the next one occur? What kind of gathering will set off the crazies with their guns? Where will we be guaranteed safety? The "open carry" laws in Texas are cause for more concern. A man (or woman) with a rifle slung across their shoulder at any gathering is suspicious to say the least. Do we trust that they are among the "good guys"?

Baptist minister Jeff Hood leads Dallas protest.

I am dismayed when watching images of this and other Black Lives Matter protests that the TV cameras do not show enough views of the many white faces among those who are demonstrating. I do not remember any mention of the white minister shown above with his hand raised who organized and led the Dallas march. (Although, I do not have cable TV. Perhaps he was shown on cable news.) It is that type of media coverage -- focusing on the violence and the blacks involved -- that is creating more of the same. It's time they focused on the positive images surrounding the events. This minister, Jeff Hood, not only organized this to protest the shooting of the black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, but when the shooting started he shepherded many to safety.

Had I known as I watched the news coverage into the wee hours of the morning that my first-born grandchild, Cameron, and his girlfriend, Allison were at the protest rally and march I would have been terrified.

The day after Dallas, Cameron posted the following on his Facebook page:

"Can I not weep for the officers killed and also weep for the people of color being killed by police brutality? Are the two mutually exclusive? Can I not have major grievances against the policing system whilst still having the utmost respect for the officers who fought and died last night protecting our right to demonstrate?

Needless to say, the last 24 hours have been nothing short of a whirlwind of emotions and events. Between the adrenaline rush of trying to flee disaster and waking up today to be called a 'bonafide inverse racist' with blood on my hands, it's been a struggle to meditate through and navigate this gargantuan spectrum of emotions, and I can't say that I've found clarity at this point.

Last night, as we were wrapping up our peaceful protest we were standing about a block behind where the shooting took place (eerily right across the field from the Kennedy Memorial Monument). In a split second, everything is erupting in chaos. We fled south and then east as police officers jumped in their cars and sped in the opposite direction. We could smell the gun smoke as we headed away from the red brick courthouse. As we took safe haven in the Dallas Morning News building, I began asking these questions to myself.

Yesterday I took a staff position with the group that organized this event, which means I would continue to be front and center for these demonstrations. I was beginning to re-think things, but my friend Eldred said it so perfectly when I asked if this experience would deter him: 'deter me? i'm not moved. hell, no terrorist attack is making me call in Black today. and, more than ever, am i convinced that change is NEEDED. otherwise, this will only get worse.'

I am not backing down. Extremists disguise themselves in every political movement and no prominent ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ leader would ever condone this violence, and to blame the movement for this is unfair and unjust. Anyone who tries to condemn protesting because it attracts violence is echoing dictators who have done the same thing throughout history to justify their suppression of free speech. If any parties back down in this, police or demonstrators, we're playing into the hands of these extremists who are trying to puppeteer us into becoming enemies.

We shall not be moved."  

Cameron Young, Director of Lifespan Religious Education 
Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, Fort Worth, TX 

Cameron comes by his activism naturally. His father, Craig, gave me nightmares when he was of a similar age back in the 80s and marched along with Jesse Jackson at the South African Embassy in D.C., protesting apartheid. He survived, and has passed his love of equality and justice for all along to his son. I am proud of both of them.

****************************************

The following video was produced shortly after the Orlando nightclub massacre, in honor of the victims. I think it is appropriate to listen to now for the Dallas victims as well.. We certainly do need love! The music begins at 1:57.




Love and Peace,
Marilyn

Saturday, June 18, 2016

GUNS ARE FOR KILLING

Long-time friend, Jack Garner, wrote the following Letter to The Editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle shortly after the Orlando massacre. 

I agree with him wholeheartedly about assault weapons of any kind. It was good to hear Senator Murphy (D) from Connecticut lead the Democrats in a 15-hour filibuster on gun control this past Thursday, ending only when GOP leaders agreed to allow votes on two of the issues. I pray they can come to terms and pass such legislation we so desperately need. We'll see.

"50 dead at the time of this writing; more in critical condition may not survive. The cause? Not a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, but one deranged man with an assault rifle.

It matters not if the shooter’s motivation was a hate crime directed at the sexual orientation of his victims or an Isis-inspired act of terror. What matters is that we are in a position to have this foul act repeated as long as assault rifles are on sale to the public.

Every family should be able to own a pistol with a limited ammunition clip for protection of home and family. The sportsmen should be allowed guns that permit them to participate in hunting; but to continue the sale of assault rifles is to sanction murder.

The National Rifle Association will scream to the high heavens at this proposal. They will claim that it violates their Second Amendment rights. When the Second Amendment was penned, a musket fired one round - a far cry from an assault rifle’s 30-round magazines. An assault rifle is overkill for home protection as well as hunting. Its only purpose is the taking of human life.

I am not naive enough to think banning of assault rifles would stop all murder. It has been a negative social act since Cain clobbered Abel, and will continue as long as humans carry hate in their hearts. Banning of assault rifles will, however, stop blood-flowing massacres such as the carnage in Orlando."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Gun manufacturers are pushing military style weapons: Rolling Stone magazine charges that since the industry has seen significant drops in the number of hunters in this generation, the industry has promoted assault rifles and machine guns, (the purchase of) which has risen in recent years." (rollingout.com)
If the millennials in my own family are typical of this generation -- and I believe they are -- the number of hunters will continue to drop. Their love of nature and involvement in environmental causes promise to keep them and their families to follow from ever wanting to intentionally harm the beautiful creatures on this planet. My daughter's family is vegetarian so they certainly don't go along with the argument that we need to slaughter animals for food. For those who do eat meat, the humane treatment of such animals is a priority. I cannot argue with that. I banished veal from my diet years ago after seeing a segment on "60 Minutes" about how tiny little calves were kept penned up so tightly as to prevent any fat or muscle development (one's veal must be tender!). They were never allowed out of this confining little prison until slaughter time. I cried as I watched the secretly filmed video of these poor little babes.
The deputies in the Sheriff's Office in west Texas where I worked for a short period of time, were typical hunter types. They loved to razz me about my tender heart where animals hit by cars were concerned. ("They are just animals.") They tried to convert me to their hunters' point of view with the issues of over-population of some breeds. Especially deer. (And now, of course, we have the feral hog population to deal with in Texas.) I realize the need for reducing/controlling over-population. It seems I heard some years back about trials with birth control drugs being used for this purpose with some animals. Modern technology can surely find a way to make that a plausible solution. Anyway, if we have to resort to hunting and killing as a "humanitarian" way of keeping some from starving, why does it have to be with assault weapons? These weapons were invented for use by the military, and for one purpose -- to kill humans!

I may have shared this story before, but must do so again. I probably told it to the Sheriff's Deputies, thus, the reason they teased me so. Long ago I told a friend of mine in Denton how it disturbed me to see so many animals lying dead along the side of the highway, having been hit by cars. She told me how she dealt with it. She just "blessed their little spirits" and drove on. (Thank you, Mary, for teaching me that.) It made things a little easier for me. It became second nature to me as I drove -- blessing little spirits of dead animals along the roadside. I could spot them up ahead and would begin my blessing, until one day the "animal" I thought I was blessing turned out to be a large piece of wall insulation that had blown off a truck! The blessing was complete by the time I reached it. Boy! Did I feel foolish!

I loved the story of Native Americans putting grass in the mouths of deer they killed for food, so the animal's spirit would have something to eat on its way to the other world. They would thank the animal and bless it on its journey. 

I wonder if the Orlando shooter thought even for a millisecond of blessing the spirits of those he killed. He certainly didn't kill for food.. so was it for sport?

Peace,
Marilyn

Friday, June 17, 2016

WISDOM OF THE YOUNG




My granddaughter Hannah, who will be a junior next fall at the performance arts high school Booker T. Washington in Dallas, is an aspiring playwright. Recently a one-act play she wrote was one of five out of 60+ entries from the north Texas area high schools to be presented this past Saturday at Booker T. during PUP Fest.

"Playwrights Under Progress (PUP) Fest is a unique project co-produced with local youth organization Junior Players. As part of the New Works Festival, PUP Fest features an afternoon of five world premiere staged readings written and performed by some of the Metroplex's finest high school talent and developed through playwriting workshops." Kitchen Dog Theater - PUP 

Hannah's father and brother Cameron attended the production, and Craig said his daughter's play was "absolutely wonderful". It is about the problems of a young, gay high school student. Supposedly, videos of these plays will be posted on YouTube in the near future. 

Hannah's cousin Audrey, my oldest granddaughter who now lives in Austin, is a talented writer as well. She writes on a blog called ONE WORLD, TWO FEET along with other "explorers" of our beautiful planet. They write brief posts along with amazing photographs of their adventures that they take as well.

Audrey, an environmental scientist, has recently taken a job with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as a Habitat Exchange Program Specialist, working on the threat to the extinction of the monarch butterfly. EDF has offices all over the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and China. Their mission is creating "solutions that let nature and people prosper." by working toward "stabilizing the climate, feeding the world, and protecting our health (safer household products through chemical policy reform and corporate partnerships)." Saving the planet and all living things is a big job. One that Audrey has been devoted to and planning for most of her young life. 

PATTERN RECOGNITION
Audrey's brother, Tanner, is a senior in high school this coming fall. Besides being an honor student, and preparing to attend a favorite Ivy League college, among Tanner's many accomplishments is the ability to write. I was so impressed with an essay he wrote for his English class this spring that I asked him for permission to quote some of it. 

"When I was just a little tyke, my father and I would often ride bikes to a sandwich shop for lunch. I fondly remember these adventures, as my father would engage me in a wide variety of interesting topics. I remember one discussion in particular, one about the impact of pattern recognition on how we humans interact with our world. I have continued to think about this topic ever since that discussion. Humans excel at identifying patterns -- indeed, this ability is key to mastering our environment. This ability to recognize both dangers and opportunities has carried us to the top of the food web. However, we are so proficient at recognizing patterns that we often find patterns which simply do not exist."

"..Humans innately categorize everything. Although this is a largely beneficial trait, it is my belief that this tendency to categorize causes many societal issues. Those who are not like 'us' because they act differently than 'we' do, make 'us' uncomfortable. Those who do not fit into the predetermined categories that we subconsciously create make 'us'  feel uncomfortable and afraid. Sometimes, violence arises from this fear. Thus, massive injustices such as xenophobia and racism occur.."

EDITOR: And of course, homophobia, as we witnessed this past week in the tragedy at the nightclub in Orlando. 

More next time on my other grands. All stay so involved in all aspects of our world today. The arts, science, sports, and life in general. Sometimes it tires me to even contemplate their busy lives. But overriding it all is pride in their accomplishments and their parents (my children) who are doing such a magnificent job. 


Peace and Love,
Marilyn

Monday, June 13, 2016

HOW MANY MORE TIMES MUST THIS HAPPEN?

Orlando witnesses worst mass shooting in U.S history
(newsumbrella.net)

It's happened again. Many of us watched in horror Sunday morning as instead of our usual religious programming or political talk shows we saw images of  the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in our beloved country. Survivors and relatives of the victims told heart-rending stories. We eagerly awaited the news conferences giving us information about the gunman, and whether or not this was an attack instigated by ISIL. The young man who carried out the massacre was a Muslim, which fanned the fires of anti-Islamists. His father was interviewed early on, and tried to convince us that this was not due to a connection to ISIL. He stated that his son had recently witnessed two men kissing on a Miami beach, and that enraged him. As the stories progressed throughout the day, it was easy to relate the shootings not only to homophobia, but also to the shooter's desire to be associated with ISIL as a jihadist. He called 911 during the siege to pledge his allegiance to ISIL, and to ensure his "entrance into heaven", as their followers are indoctrinated to believe.

Of all the mass shootings in the U.S., in some statistics defined as "events in which four or more people were killed by a lone gunman", in only three instances were the shooters Muslims. (Fort Hood, TX in 2009, San Bernardino, CA in 2015, and Orlando, FL)  Statistics dating back to 1966, indicate that there have been 869 victims, 142 of which were children or teenagers. There is an excellent article with accompanying graphics on the mass shootings in America that will blow your mind: Washington Post

For some to call for a ban on Muslims entering the country -- or to implicate President Obama as being somehow complicit with jihadists, seems like sheer idiocy. Demanding that he resign the presidency only exacerbates this idiocy.

gun, military

My very first thought as I heard the devastating news was we must do something about the gun laws in this country. Especially banning any military style weapons and high capacity magazines. Reading some comments from our citizens who think more guns are the only answer to mass killings sounds unrealistic. Imagine many guns in a crowded venue when something like this occurs. The Waco biker gang shootout a year ago left nine dead and 18 wounded. Some bikers were armed, but no assault rifles were used. (This was in a relatively open area, as some shooters were outdoors.) In a place like a crowded nightclub, many guns would more than likely put additional people in harms' way as a shootout begins. Someone would have to be an expert marksman - and be positioned just right in order to take out the gunman. God forbid that a security person might have an assault weapon as well. 

Banning unnecessary military type weapons and much stronger background checks will go a long way towards prevention of more mass killings. I think Hillary Clinton's suggestion of creating a national database that would include those on "no-fly" lists and anyone under investigation for possible terrorist association would be a good idea. How mental illnesses that border on criminality should be handled without compromising civil rights is something that should be addressed as well.

If implemented, the NRA would be up-in-arms (pun intended). That is, if the scaredy-cat congressmen and women would even dare to present such a bill for passage. Not only on a national level, but even our state legislators are all so afraid of losing the financial backing of the gun manufacturers in this country. Which leads me to another solution -- term limits for all government legislators. Too many are more concerned with appeasing donors so they might be reelected than they are with protecting our citizens from overzealous gun rights advocates. 

The lobbyists for major corporations who entice our lawmakers with huge sponsorships and PACs create another opportunity for a solution to many of our problems. There must be a way to overturn Citizens United. (Not the PAC, but the SCOTUS case in 2009). One of the main reasons for the decision was to put any company on equal footing with the media organizations to promote their candidates. While this is a simplified explanation, it makes little sense if one concentrates on who is buying up the media corporations in our country. The extremely wealthy corporations -- like the Sinclair Group -- are gradually taking over much of the broadcast and print media. Most of it is done quietly, and when the FCC gets involved by preventing "monopolies" in certain areas (Texas, for one), the corporations form "satellite" companies to purchase those entities. Thus, they end up controlling much of what is broadcast or published. And eventually promoting and ensuring election of candidates sympathetic to their issues.

Conspiracy theories abound with the stories of  Muslims infiltrating the country with jihadists, illegal aliens taking over our jobs, the liberals in government wanting to take all of "our" guns, and even one of the latest that is called "false flag" or "hoax", indicating a mass shooting was somehow perpetrated to distract us from something nefarious going on that might cause us to lose more of our freedom. One presidential candidate loves to hear these theories, and he capitalizes on them every opportunity he gets to increase his popularity with the segment of society who actually believes them. It is certainly scary to see how many people have voted for him and kept him in the running for the most powerful position in the world.
Hillary Clinton is our best chance for implementing the solutions to the many problems brought to the fore by the latest gun massacre. The GOP nominee will only create more mayhem in our country, with his racist, bigoted, and conspiracy-creating rhetoric. With the election of more Democratic legislators, we also may see a return of a safer, more equal society for all.

Peace and love,
Marilyn