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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday, 4 December 2015

History's Actors, or Simply History?


The article has inaccuracies in their argument to restrict/control handguns. "You don't take a knife to a gun fight". You carry a gun. If I see terrorist shooting, I'll be involved because I'll be packing a gun for that reason.

Uh-huhn.  The next time an airplane flies into a tower, I'm sure every armed American will rush to the scene and start shooting at the ashes.  They're not gonna stop texting while they drive, though, 'cause that's an infringement of their rights.

How may acts of terrorism have there been in the US?  You're more likely to die in a plane crash - and how often does the average American ride on a plane?

While we're at it - Andrew Joseph Stack.  James J. Lee.  Michael Page.  John Patrick Bedell.Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.

Clearly, all Islamist communists hell-bent in their hatred of American freedoms.

Best to close borders, round up minorities, monitor citizens and pack heat to protect those freedoms, isn't it?

There's cutting your nose off to spite your face, and then there's this.

Fortunately, it isn't a knife these gun-fighters are squaring off against.  It's history.

It's not a fight they can win.  Thank god.


    offmylawndisease - get off my body                          diabetes!

    Why? Terrorism, of course.  There are terrorists out there - heck, they could be your very neighbour! - and they're coming for you.

    The could have bombs strapped beneath their niqabs, or be planting bombs in your schools.  Or, like all those white people who go postal, they could just whip out their automatic weapons and start blasting away at a mall, or sports game, or even your shooting range.

    It's dangerous times, America.  Guns are all that stand between us and our enemies.  And their bombs.  Or something like that.

    With this in mind, here are the leading causes of death in the US:

    • Heart disease: 611,105
    • Cancer: 584,881
    • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
    • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
    • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
    • Alzheimer's disease: 84,767
    • Diabetes: 75,578
    • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
    • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
    • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

    Now, a gun can't protect you from heart disease.  A gun can't prevent you from getting Diabetes Type II.  It won't stop a drunk driver from running you over.  It can and does get used in suicide - in fact, the vast majority of gun deaths in the United States are suicides.

    So - what's the big deal?  If it's really about security, why aren't statistically relevant causes of death getting more attention?  If it's really about safety, why isn't the NRA and other security-focused agencies investing in prevention?

    Guns aren't about protection.  That's a convenient myth.  Guns are about power.  

    The most powerful people in history changed the world without guns, but with words.  The conversion of "bad men" to good is tied to the history of movements as much as are those who have resisted change with their cold, dead hands.

    This is the narrative of America right now - it's not one about safety so much as it is about resisting a global shift in power that is reflected by an internal shift in demographics.

    I hate to be the one to tell you this, but guns can't save you from social evolution, either.

    Thursday, 3 December 2015

    Power, Risk, Movement

    This is a fascinating subject - to understand conflict and resolution is to understand humanity.

    Some of the toughest-talking politicians out there are fighting hard to keep six refugees beyond their borders, even though they don't fight that hard when it comes to ensuring people have access to guns.

    It's like the time a group of powerful, tough-talking folk bullied and threatened little black students simply trying to go to school and get an education.

    The West looks at foreign conflicts and asks "how can we have the maximum impact with the minimal risk?" We're still arming and training rebels - tomorrow's opponents, as history keeps reminding us - but now we're employing smart bombs and drones, keeping our people out of harms way.

    Those charged with keeping our communities safe - police and soldiers in particular - face unprecedented risks and yes, need protection.  Their job, however, involves risk by its very nature.

    The same holds true for those other folk we charge with keeping our communities healthy and safe - educators, healthcare practitioners, those who care for those less able to care for themselves.  If you're a teacher, you put yourself in the line of fire every time you break up a fight, or calm down an explosive student, or face an explosive parent.  There are all kinds of risks that come with all these jobs that the average person doesn't know and, frankly, doesn't care about.

    Folks like these - the front line of community, whether paid or volunteer - they take risks every day, go to the communities where security forces are most frequently sent, only they do so without guns.

    Their shield is their belief in what they do, the need for people like them to change the world, save the next generation from needing the walls and the guns and the distance by empowering, not enforcing with power.

    The most powerful people in history - those who led movements, religious or civil, weren't armed with swords, but with messages.  Those messages resonated and changed the world.

    Which begs the question - what are we trying to accomplish with heavily armed guards, firewalls and strong surveillance measures?  Is living in fear, cloistered behind our borders how we choose to define freedom?  Do we want to remove the risk of anything bad happening - and if so, are we willing to give up the chance for something fresh and good to happen as well?

    I believe we, as a species, are coming from a place of fear, isolation and top-down power structures and moving towards, in fits and spurts, true community.  I believe it's a slow process, full of misteps, wrong turns and even periodic reversals.  The long-term trajectory, however, is positive.  

    We will get there.

    It's a dangerous world full of risk, perils and change; we will need to make some painful adaptations to live beyond our caves.  We'll have to get used to sharing, too.

    When we meet on common ground, and bring the best we have to offer together, we can build something greater.

    Humanity: The Force Awakens

    "There has been an awakening.  Have you felt it?"

    It's hard to imagine you haven't - we're all plugged in these days.  Our social networks are global networks; we are all connected to each other, with real-time events and the points of view that frame them bombarding us at every turn.

    "The dark side..."

    Civil war.  Abuse of power.  Preponderance of weapons - and the call for more of them.  Displaced people.  Surveillance that puts the safety of The State above that of the people. Terrorism that originates abroad, and on our own shores.  Racism, othering, hatred, the urge to shut out and destroy those we dislike once and for all.

    "And the light."

    #WelcomeRefugees.  Open Government.  The whole how might we approach to tackling wicked problems.  Story telling, opportunity creation, empathy.  Empowerment - seeing power as something that flows through and binds us all, rather than as a tool to be wielded by the strongest.  A focus not on endings, but new beginnings.

    This is the conflict we face, folks.  It's not us vs. them.  It's us vs. ourselves.

    We can live together, or we can die alone.  Those are the two options that we have faced, and been reminded of, throughout history.

    Which project we opt to finish is our choice, and our choice alone.