Hope

Wearing Your Heart on Your Hip

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I read a comment this morning on a Facebook post about open carry laws in stores. One of the comments was against it.  Here it is.

“Their business, their rules. Don’t like it? Don’t shop there. Easy.

When I see some stranger grocery shopping with deadly weapons I do NOT feel safer. People like that are paranoid trigger-happy schizophrenics, and no one who’s sane feels safer with them around.

We wanna buy school supplies and groceries… not be ready for a gun war 24/7. Our once peaceful lives are being turned into a war zone all so some gun nuts can keep us all hostage.

Join the military if you’re about that life. Let the rest of us shop in peace. Thanks.”

I agree with this comment in a lot of ways. One of the responses to this comment that hit a mark for me is below.

” The problem is you live in your own little fantasy world that something bad isn’t going to happen to you.”

And there it was. The big divider. All of us are wounded in some way. Some wounds are worse than others. Some wounds cause us to walk around with guns attached to our hips.

They say that the most emotional people walk around with their hearts on their sleeves. I think all of these open carry folks are walking around with their hearts on their hips. They are in great pain and have great fear. I understand that.

Guns are about control. Let’s be clear on that fantasy. Guns give people a sense of control. If you wear a gun on your hip you are saying “I control the conversation.” Police officers are trained to do this and we like to think that they are in control of their pain. We see on the news that that is often not the case.

A gun on the hip by a regular person with no training says “I am in a lot of pain and fear and don’t want you to talk about anything but my gun.” The thing is I think deep down we all know this and really they DO want to talk about how they got so afraid. What wounded you so much that you have to wear a gun to Piggly Wiggly? Combat experience? A robbery? Childhood trauma?

I accept that guns used by a trained professional like a police officer are sometimes necessary. I accept that. I do not accept the Wild West. Even the Wild West sometimes had a sensible Sheriff who made you check your weapons at the city limits.

Another comment by someone is below.

“Someone carrying a gun interrupts your peace?”

Yes. My comment to this comment is below.

“A cop with a gun interrupts my peace too let alone some random person I don’t know.”

When I see a security guard I do not feel safer. My mind goes into defense mode. Isn’t that part of the point of open carry and armed guards? It controls the conversation. Guns! On guard people! It’s also a fantasy. I love the movie Die Hard but I don’t want to live in the movie Die Hard.

Why live that way?

So my point is I think open carry is a terrible idea. I think open carry without a license or training is a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE idea. There is a painful story behind the average citizen who chooses to live with with a gun on their hip. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to accidentally shoot someone or have a bad day and take it out with the gun within arm’s reach.

But we all have bad days and we don’t all walk around with a gun on our hip. That’s a good thing I think.

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Genuine and Equal

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“I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. I ask primary evidence that you are a man, and refuse this appeal from the man to his actions. I know that for myself it makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are reckoned excellent. I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I have intrinsic right. Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

One line was left out of this quote which was “If your kind heart find favor in my words,  please Like, Share and Subscribe.” 🙂

Seriously though, I wonder how true these words actually were for Emerson. I can only speak for myself when I say that there are days when I feel that way and days where I seek constant validation. Just how it goes. No shame in it. Seasons of feelings I suppose.

What Is Racism

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“Give me liberty, or give me death!”” – Patrick Henry

The world is a mess. It’s always been a mess though.  It’s just that we have so many ways to view the mess that we can see how messy it is and was. Of course that’s just my view and where I’ve come to see things. You might have known it was a mess all of your life.

Let’s just pick one big ol mess we’re dealing with right now here in one little corner of the world.  Racism.  What is racism? Are you a racist? Am I a racist? Do you or I react to the world in racist ways that we are unaware of? How do you define racism? How did you or I learn to be racist?

You see so many people pointing fingers at racism. You also see so many people crying foul. “I am not a racists! I am the least racist person.”

What is racism? How do we have a conversation about racism if we can’t even agree on what racism is. You see racism point out on a daily basis in people’s words and actions yet those same people will flatly deny racism. I believe the many people only see racism as someone who wants to kill someone of another race or someone who wears a swastika. It seems like we all seem to think in extreme terms and conveniently that allows us to keep swinging but never actually hitting the target. We don’t get anywhere because we’re all still arguing about what racism actually is.

At least it seems that way to me.

I feel like we need a national conversation on what racism is.  How do we define racism in all its many and subtle ways along with the obvious extreme ways? If our actual goal is to live peacefully and hopefully together we have to start on a strong foundation.

Why would we want to do this? Shouldn’t we just kill Nazi’s? (I see that one a lot) Yes there are people beyond reason. I am not saying a conversation about defining racism is the cure. I do think it’s one of many paths.

Most people who behave in racist ways that I’ve met are just echoing what they were taught in their families and in their culture. I would imagine that goes for people all over the world. Experience shapes belief. How do you change a mind or heart like that? I think the only way you accomplish this is through providing some sort of dignity. Without dignity in a conversation this emotional I don’t see anyone changing their minds except through extreme action. (And by extreme action I mean war, a personal loss, etc)

To define this in an open national conversation could provide a sense of dignity that might allow some people to see that just because they were looking at these in the wrong way doesn’t mean you can’t change and help make them right. You don’t have to double down anymore and dig that pit of despair even deeper.

So “give me dignity or give me death!” This spin on the Patrick Henry quote is the subconscious battle cry beneath every Trump rally.  In a lot of ways it’s really the battle cry of most of humanity.

So how do we do this? I don’t know. I’m open to suggestion. Why not start here?

How do you define racism?

It Has Already Been Given

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“If Christ has died and risen from the dead and poured out upon us the fire of His Holy Spirit, why do we imagine that our desire for life is a Promethean desire, doomed to punishment?

Why do we act as if our longing to “see good days” were something God did not desire, when He Himself told us to seek them?

Why do we reproach ourselves for desiring victory? Why do we pride ourselves on our defeats, and glory in despair?

Because we think our life is important to ourselves alone, and do not know that our life is more important to the Living God than it is to our own selves.

Because we think our happiness is for ourselves alone, and do not realize that it is also His happiness.

Because we think our sorrows are for ourselves alone, and do not believe that they are much more than that: they are His sorrows.

There is nothing we can steal from Him at all, because before we can think of stealing it, it has already been given.”

– Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable

Off The Leash

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I want to share a story because I want to remember it. Not to say I wouldn’t or couldn’t remember it if I didn’t write it down but let’s increase the odds shall we?

Our dog got off her leash the other day. She’s done this many times over the years and each time it feels like the last time we’ll see her. This time was no exception. It was drive time. A storm was rolling in. My daughter was out in her car driving around looking for her. I took to the sidewalk and retraced several routes she had taken in the past as she usually sticks close to home.  This time felt different though.

After an hour of looking we were about to give up hope of finding her.  We had passed several people in the neighborhood and given them her description, name and a brief idea of where we lived if they found her.

After an hour and half of looking we decided to come home. At this point if seemed like she was either out of the neighborhood and would just come home on her own or had run up to a stranger and gone in their home.  Those were the best case scenarios.

We pulled into the driveway when a woman can walking up our street. “Hey did you find your dog?” she yelled. “Not yet,” I said. “I think someone found her.”

She pulled up some sort of social media page and sure enough there were pictures of Bridgette. I’ll be. “That’s her!”

So how did it go down? It turned out that she was just down the street this whole time.  She had run behind us into the creek and ended up crossing paths with some people.  Those people ended up taking her to the a local vet who figured out she was “chipped” and they scanned her chip.  The chip pulled up her name and the animal shelter we had brought her home from but it did not have our current address or contact info. The woman who we had spoken to sitting on her porch had just so happened to pull up this social media app and just so happened to remember our description of Bridgette.  She then took it upon herself to make her way several blocks on foot to try and find us.  We just so happened to be pulling into our driveway at the exact perfect time that this stranger was walking toward the direction of our house.

Can you call that a miracle? What do you call that. Incredible luck. Perfect timing. Grace.

Microchip your pet. It’s worth it. What a day. What a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

It seems that every time our dog has gotten of its leash it’s been a personal lesson of letting go to be found. Metaphor and all. Dog is God spelled backward. What a backward way to learn.

Graceful. Grateful.