You’re Friendly Neighborhood List of Things That Happened In America(Part 2)

Previously in 2013…

5.  Marathon Men

Every April, runners from across the world gather in Boston, Massechusetts to compete in the Boston Marathon.  Every year, runners attempt to test their personal limitations, abilities and endurance running the 26 miles of the competition.  This year, however, the personal strength and fortitude of all participants were pushed to the limit when two Chechen brothers planted and detonated crude explosives at the end as runners cross the finish line.  Over 260 were injured.  Three, Krystle Marie Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin William Richard were killed at the scene.  The nation was in shock.  The city of Boston, one of the largest cities in the United States, came to a stand still.  By now, Americans have been exposed to the idea of terrorism and terrorist acts.  We hardly are exposed to these events, but now.

Days later, a nation still look for answers, reports of a shooting in the Boston area make immediate headlines.  This time, a simple act of terror is more than what we find.  First reports of are a shootout.  Within minutes, there are reports of car chases, abductions and hostage situations.  All at the same time.  While the city of Boston, which came to a standstill after the attacks earlier in the week, the perpetrators never left the area.  The good guys caught up with them.  And it did NOT end quietly.  What broke out was a real-life season of the television 24.  From that night which begin with a car-jacking and ended later the next day with the apprehension of the last suspect alive, I, like most other Americans were as glued to our televisions as we were watching the exploits of Jack Bauer every Monday Night.  And much like those nights, the good guys won in the end.

Stay strong, Boston.

4.  Get “Out” The Vote II: Wedding Bans

2013 begin with an event that would highlight a reoccurring theme throughout the year.  On the first day of the year, Maryland, who’s voters approved Same Sex Marriage, would enact the law giving marriage equality for all, allowing for gay and lesbian couples to wed.  However, it did not stop there.  Within months, Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota would all legalize gay marriage.  This set the stage for the second decision made by the United States Supreme Court.  On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  This would allow for same sex couples to be able to receive full benefits enjoyed by all other married couples.  To make the day even greater, the Supreme Court would also rule that California’s Proposition 8 did not have legal standing in federal court.  California would be the fifth state within six months to give marriage rights to ALL of their citizens.  And just as been the story for the entire year, marriage equality did not stop there.  New Jersey followed suit, despite objections from it’s governor.  Hawaii legalized Same Sex Marriage.  Illinois also legalized Same Sex Marriage.  Lastly, just before Christmas, Utah(yes, Utah), through heartache and consternation, legalized Same Sex Marriage completing a banner year for many of those who are gay in the nation.

Now, say what you will about these Americans, but make sure you include that word when you do; AMERICAN.  As is the case, there is no reason why they cannot be treated with the same rights and more importantly given the same dignity that we all enjoy.  America is NOT a theocracy.  We do not make laws based on morality.  We make them based on equality.  No matter who you are or who you life.

3.  America Under Fire

For many Americas, 2012 ended in disaster.  We had to sit and watch a news report of a mentally wretched 19-year old obtained multiple firearms owned by his mother Nancy Lanza, and shot her to death and then proceeded to the school where she worked at killed 26 others, 20 of which were kids.  The nation in outrage would begin 2013 demanding action from our elected officials.  Whether it was restrictive action or proactive action for those with disabilities, something had to be done.  Within a month, a former police officer shoots seven and kills four in Los Angles.  Months later, 19 were shot by at a Mother’s Day Parade in New Orleans.  A few months after that in DC, a shooter entered into a Naval Facility and shot 20, killed 12.  Back in Los Angles, a armed gunman entered the airport and opened fire killing one and injuring six others.  The year would end with a murder suicide in a Colorado suburb and in Reno, Nevada.  In all these individuals barely represent a fraction of those shot by firearms in America.  They do represent those who should have never had access to firearms to begin with.  I would have hoped we learned our lesson a year ago.  We did not.

2.  The Health of Nations

Back in 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, much to the dismay of Republicans everywhere.  Since then, various parts of the law referred to as “Obamacare” would come into effect allowing for those with pre-existing conditions to receive insurance and to help the elderly pay less for insurance they could barely afford.  That, however, was only the beginning.  The full law was scheduled to come into effect on October 1st… and it did.  The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, which was setup to give options for insurance for those looking for something quality and affordable came online and immediately became the dictionary meaning of “mismanagement”.  The launch of the Federal Exchange was one of the most disastrous launch since Medicare and Medicaid launched some 45 years earlier… which would make a little sense since both were to restructure the way we take care of people in America, which has a LOT of sick people.

But if a broken website wasn’t bad enough, that was only the first salvo of a issue that would cause havoc to our government.  Never able to come to terms with a law that was already implemented and paid for, the Republicans wanted to do any and everything to try to stop the inevitable.  What they did was to tie crucial funding for the government to a repeal of the law.  The only problem is, the law was already paid for and the only thing that wasn’t being funded was everything else.  So the government shut down.  The Democrats handed the nation the disaster of inaccessible affordable healthcare.  The Republicans handed the nation a shutdown that would close down many government services and furloughed thousands of workers.  Because of the problems and lack of solutions given by both parties and not wanting to listen, the real losers from that entire month was the American people.  However, all things would come to an end.  The government came back online eventually and so did the Federal Exchange.  Unfortunately, the debate over the law has continued, just as health coverage for those who needed it the most.

1.  The Trial of Trayvon Martin

The death of Trayvon Martin was one of the biggest stories from 2012.  When a 16 year old kid walking home armed with a bag Skittles and a can of iced tea is shot and killed, the circumstances of his death did not sit well with many across America, particularly when his killer did not face an immediate arrest for his murder.  Millions rallied across the country.  Shouts for racial justice and equality in law was demanded.  All of it would result in the arrest and indictment of George Zimmerman for the 2nd Degree murder of Trayvon Martin.  In 2012, the good guys won.  Right?

Apparently not.  The most talked about trial of 2013 and probably the last decade was one that this nation could not ignore.  It began with a jury selection that resulted in six females, none of which were black, and what was never far from anyone’s mind was how relatable were the participants.  What became immediately apparently was less relevance on whether George Zimmerman justifiably killed Trayvon Martin, but the hotly debated fact of Trayvon Martin giving reason enough to be killed.  It became less about who George Zimmerman is and what was in is heart, but more about who was Trayvon Martin and what was in his heart.  Unfortunately Trayvon Martin couldn’t make it to his own trial.  Much to everyone’s surprise(which is a surprise in of itself), George Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  I can’t possibly fathom how that verdict could have been found beyond ALL reasonable doubt, but therein lies the problem and why this issue and legacy of this trial will continue well into 2014 and beyond.

The Trial of Trayvon Martin became a focus on those involved, from Trayvon Martin to George Zimmeran, to Rachel Jentel to Trayvon’s Martin’s parents, it focused on them and how perceptions view these individual persons.  The jury and many across America could not relate to the humanity displayed by those who felt they were wronged.  They did however sympathize with the accused.  It became clear that the absence of Trayvon Martin spoke louder than the presence of George Zimmerman.   In the end, America watched as what unraveled as the greatest issues of our lifetimes came at a crossroads and ended in tragedy.  Race and class in the eyes of the law and the justice system has dominated the American consciousness.  What we saw from the Trial of Trayvon Martin and not the trial of George Zimmerman was an issue that will continue to plague us, just as it has for hundreds of years thus far.

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Your Friendly Neighborhood List of Things That Happened In America(Part 1)

Previously in 2013…

10.  Get Out The Vote

In June, the United States Supreme Court would hand down two decisions that would change the course of law and human rights in America.  The first decision was a 5-4 vote to strike down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was passed to ensure the right to vote by all Americans no matter their race, class, gender or status.  Section 4 of the act demanded specific parts of the country, particularly those in the south or places that has had problems making voting rights accessible, it demanded for them to have special pre-clearance before they were able to change their voting laws.  This law, which has been in effect for nearly 40 years, which has been upheld several times over the 40 years was suddenly deemed unconstitutional because Republicans started to lose too many elections.  As you can imagine, within HOURS of the decision Texas and Mississippi(shockingly) immediately changed their laws.  Other states would follow suit.  Their reasoning?  That making it harder for people to vote they will be able to stop voter fraud, which is pretty much saying I wear gloves and muffs in June to prevent myself from catching a cold.

9.  Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Also in June, Food Network star chef Paula Deen came under fire for a deposition she did to a lawsuit filed against her earlier in the year.  The lawsuit, which alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment to a white female employee had a recorded deposition from Deen where she was asked if she ever used the “N-word”, to which she responded, “Yes, of course” and was from an incident she said where someone held a gun at her during a robbery.  While having a gun pointed at you(even if it actually happened) isn’t an excuse to refer to someone like that, it never excused her openly musing about having a plantation themed party where the waitstaff are all black, and not referred to by name(hint).  Through it all, Paula Deen who would lose several endorsements and cancelled deals, all the while the fallout that was completely mismanaged just as much as her complete lack of understanding that “no, don’t use that word or try to excuse using that word EV-VER”.  Her not only using it, admitting that she uses it and then excusing it because she black kids she hires uses it, knowing FULL WELL where and when she was born is COMPLETELY inexcusable and it was only made worse by the fact that she seemingly had no understanding of that fact.

8.  Spy Games

On June 6, Edward Snowden released to the media evidence of a global surveillance network by the National Security Administration, which also included phone records from over 120 million Verizon subscribers as well.

7.  Virginia’s New Dominion

On November 5, a full year after the re-election of Barack Obama Virginia was put into the electoral limelight as one of the few states with very crucial statewide elections to be decided.  Virginia, which is home to strong Republican majorities in cities across the state and in the General Assembly, and apparently as I learned this week the Ku Klux Klan still, the state has not be a place where Democrats have been very successful.  Until now.  The candidates for Governor, Terry McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor, Ralph Northam and Attorney General, Mark Herring all would win their elections, marking the first time since the Democrats were the conservatives of the Solid South that they held every major statewide seat in office.  What makes this year more interesting were the circumstances leading to it.  Again, after November of 2012 and the Republicans had to face the fact that they lost again to Barack Obama, they had to re-examine themselves and their party.  They had to find out if following the path laid by the Tea Party or Libertarians would bring them greater success than the social or fiscal conservatives that has lead them for years.  In the mist of it all, Virginia, which for over 40 years has never elected a governor from the same party that they just elected President in the previous year, they now had also a debacle of that President’s most notable program fully fresh in the minds of every voter still.  With all of this in mind, they still turned to Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party and Libertarian darling.  The rollout of the national health care marketplace on October 1st was embarrassing, indefensible and was every Republican’s wet-dream come true.  But with with all of that in mind, not only did Terry McAuliffe win, but Ralph Northam(who was given the gift of a imminently repulsive E. W. Jackson) and more surprisingly, Mark Herring won against Mark Obenshain.  This was remarkable for the fact that Democrats have not won an Attorney General race in 20 years, but also because based on most reasonable standards, Senator Obenshain was as good of a AG candidate the Republicans could have hoped for.  That’s says something.  Republicans were given a full year of re-examination and a one of the worst months for any Democrat and they could not even win seats that they should have won.

6.  Cleveland Rocked!

On May 6, Ariel Castro left his Cleveland home, much like he has over the last ten years, but unlike any other day over that time, on that day he left a door unlocked inside his home.  Inside that door was 27 year old, Amanda Berry.  She took the opportunity to go through the door and grab the attention of Angel Cordero and Charles Ramsey, neighbors of Ariel Castro, and was able to escape through a blocked doorway.  She then notified her rescuers as well as the authorities that she was the same Amanda Berry that had been missing for over ten years and that two other missing teens during the same time period, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were also being held captive in the home of Ariel Castro.  This story was an immediate sensation across the country.  Often is the case that children go missing around the country.  Whether they’re runaways, abducted or murdered, often are the not found alive.  To find THREE missing teens after such a long period of time, together, alive and healthy and all being held by the same demented soul miles within the spot they were taken was a miracle.  It gave three families, who did not imagine they’d be able to have their loved ones with them again, the chance to keep them close and hug them to express their love that they missed out for over 10 years.  It gave hope to families across America who have had loved ones taken from them without answers hope that someday they will return.  It was remarkable to see these girls, these young women support each other.  It was remarkable to see them even smile when you could only imagine the hell that the last ten years of life they had.  It was even remarkable that such a story to be given a happen ending with the pricelessness of the internet and of course… Cleveland’s version of Your Friendly Neighborhood Black Man.

Poor Choice of Words

unemployed

Today, across America, over a million Americans who receive Unemployment Benefits will have those payments discontinued if Congress decides to not lift a finger… which is their default response to anything.  For 1.3 million Americans, who have been receiving Unemployment Benefits that needed an extension of those benefits to continue to do things like eating and paying bills, that extension is scheduled to stop on December 28, 2013, three days after Christmas.  Merry Christmas.

Now, go pawn those gifts you got to buy groceries.

I would like to think that’s funny, but that is seriously what a lot of people are contemplating doing to make it to Valentines Day.  It’s what I’ve had to contemplate.  It’s funny to talk about this assistance to those who are unemployed and are looking for work(and in some cases, have to look for work to actually receive the assistance) and to call this payment a “benefit” or even “insurance”.  Chris Rock, a fellow friendly and neighborly black man once stated that insurance should be called “in case shit…” as in protection in case something happens.  Well, what happens when this kind of shit happens?  Is that really insurance?  Before I go on, in case you do not realize what this means, as someone who has had to receive Unemployment and who actually had his “benefits” expire well before gainful employment, let me give a brief description of what someone goes through.  If you lose your job from circumstances beyond your control, you’re laid off or your contract is not continued or whatever the reason and you have no income coming in, you can file for unemployment, which is a set weekly dollar amount based on how much you made throughout the year.  However, it is almost NEVER anywhere equal to the amount you made when you were employed.  Whether you were living like a king or barely making ends meet, the assistance you receive from the government will be a drastic reduction in income, which is already likely to impact your livelihood. Because of this, you’re already eager to find a better source of income that will pay you more from the get-go.  In addition to it being at the very most less than half of what you made when you were employed, in some cases, when you file, you will be asked to submit names of employers you have contacted seeking work, which can also be tracked as well.  This is on top of entering a job market that is ever more specialized and harder to crack into.  Often is the case that some will make looking for a job a full time job itself.  Whether you’re working on your resume, going to interviews, job fairs, career counselors, looking for those who are hiring, writing cover letters, re-writing your resume, creating writing samples, etc.  Believe it or not but it’s hard work to actually find hard work.  Ultimately, there are those who want to work, who attempt to find work week after week after week and have zero guarantee of work being available for them to even find in the first place.  And after constantly coming up short, not receiving any call backs, not being able to get back into a job market you’re desperately trying to get back into, because you KNOW the assistance you’re receiving will eventually stop, you can quickly get really discouraged.  This is added on to the extra humiliation you feel for not having a job.  And now, there is the non-eventual end to the assistance you were receiving that you now know will cease on a all too real date that is fast approaching.

Being unemployed is not fun.  Banging your head against a wall of employers who are not hiring is frustrating.  Knowing the “benefits” you’re receiving is going to be over and done with is the very pit of despair and desperation.  And to top it off, you now have some politician in a far away land that has no idea of the daily struggle it is to live tell you that the few dollars of assistance you receive is a “disservice” to you… What are you supposed to think?

Well, that’s exactly what Senator Rand Paul said last Friday.  Senator Paul who is not only considering a run for President, but also talks about getting minority and working class Americans to vote for him, he said that extending unemployment benefits past 26 weeks will hurt workers that are looking for a job.  His argument is that employers(who he readily affirms he’s more concerned for) would be more likely to hire someone that has been unemployed for less time than someone who’s been unemployed for a longer period.  While I don’t see how that applies to someone who has struggled to get back into a job market, Senator Paul’s statement isn’t a far stretch from much of Conservative America unfortunately.

It is also unfortunate that Senator Paul, who is the son of a former doctor and member of the U.S. Congress that was able to go through college likely without knowing how it feels to have to pay your own bills until he was out of Med School himself and practicing, I do not think he’s experienced the kind of desperation that those who have struggled and begged out of frustration and heartache to find a job when there isn’t one to find.  But yet, he is one of the few that gets to decide when the meager amount of assistance an individual gets(sometimes for an entire family) is enough.

So when he asked if it makes sense for our country to borrow money from China to give it to the unemployed in America, I don’t think he’s asking the unemployed.  Because they’re the ones that can use it.  Much more than he could ever use it himself or realize the value it is to them to have it.  But if it is truly his concern that we would be borrowing money from China to help those in need, then maybe we can borrow from it from his paycheck instead.  Because whether he needs it or not, I really don’t think he’s earning it.

The Human Race: A Christmas Story

It is Christmas 2013.  Families worldwide gather with their friends, families and loved ones to celebrate life, giving, love and caring.  All of that is the best of what human nature has to offer.  I, myself, traveled over 10 hours to be with my family gathering at our home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Before I go on, I just want to note that this is Virginia, VIRGINIA!  At one point of this nation’s history, Virginia was home to the Capitol of the Confederate States of America, which sought to break away from the United States of America.  Before and since that time, Virginia has had it’s own way of doing this, mirroring much of what the southern United States of America did.  Harsh and unequal segregation laws, brutal and wretched degradation of persons of color and systematic and institutional racism to legally and emphatically enhance the status of one race at the expense of another.  Virginia was the state of Massive Resistance and the Byrd Machine.  For over 100 years Virginia was set on being one with the South.  However, the will of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the true Virginians living within would show despite such negativity.  Virginia, which despite it’s southern roots and way of life was deeply connected to the Colonial spirit that drives the goodness of America.  This is most exemplified by both ends of the state with Northern Virginia being the doorstep of out nation’s Capitol and Southeastern Virginia, Hampton Roads being home to a part of our nation’s military, the U.S. Navy.  Virginia would further distinguish itself from it’s southern brethren by electing the first Black Governor of a state in the nation’s history.  Through it all, electorally, Virginia was still pretty tied to the Solid South.  Yes progressives had a few victories, a Doug Wilder, a Chuck Robb a Don Beyer.  But eternally and broadly, Virginia was still very much a southern state.  It was only until recently that a string of Democrats would be able to have success.  In 2001, Mark Warner would win the office of governor and would be succeeded by his Lieutenant Governor, Tim Kaine.  Both would eventually finish their terms with enough of an argument to be elected  to both senate offices in 2008 and 2012 respectively.  In 2008, Virginia would also be able elected a majority Democratic Congressional Delegation as well.  Lastly and most notably, for the first time since the south went “solid”, ALL statewide elected offices would be won and held by Democratic candidates with the elections of Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring in 2013.  Now, in a nutshell, that is Virginia political history.

NOW…  Back to me.  I come home to be with my family on Christmas Eve.  I have uncles and aunts all gather at my parents house with friends and more extended families enjoying each other, our bonds and our love.  Now, as typical as with many other families celebrating Christmas a few of us would leave just before midnight to attend church services.  I stayed home to finish wrapping gifts.  Later that night, my uncle returns and gives me something he found in my parent’s driveway in Virginia Beach Virginia in the United States in 2013.  This was what we found:

KKK FLyer VB

After discovering that this was left for my parents to see, upon waking up in the morning, I was curious to know if any of our neighbors were targeted.  To my dismay, I would find this same flyer on every driveway of my parent’s entire street as well as the mile long street leading into their neighborhood.  Disappointed and embarrassed, I tried to go to bed hoping that people would be able to still be able to have a good Christmas without having this forced upon them.   I laid down, closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but my mind would not allow me.  It was now very early in the morning, but I decided to get out of bed, put my pants back on and find every piece of this filth I could find and take it away.  I could not allow another human being, especially a KID to wake up in the morning, walk outside and find this foolery to ruin Christmas Morning.  Sadly, I did not succeed, there were some who still found it before I could take it.  I wasn’t looking for a medal.  I wasn’t looking for recognition.  I was, however, looking to do the right thing.  Not to get tied down in the history of the Ku Klux Klan, but given who they are and what they are about, I refused to let them win anything.  Especially that.  So I made like Santa Claus, but in reverse.  I would rather no one know they exist.

The problem is they do.  And despite my actions, despite my intentions to rid the world of such evil, it is still there.  I knew what I was doing would not solve everything, but I thought if I could give a little unknown Christmas present to unsuspecting families, then I would.  But that’s the way of the world.  And I know that.  I’ve fully realize that.  I was not surprised that this happened, but slightly surprised it was in Virginia Beach.

I know this is the reality of the world.  I don’t hide from it.  But I realize that many others would rather just pretend it doesn’t exist.  They would rather pretend that someone DID NOT go to their houses in the morning and preserve their perceptions of human nature that isn’t real.  There is hate in the world.  There is evil.  We NEED to acknowledge it.  But a kid on Christmas morning?  Now, I realize I can talk about issues like race, racism, the underclass, inequality, social justice and the true nature of humanity as vividly and as easy as I talk about anything else.  But on average, so many others are afraid to even acknowledge their existence, when they do come up, merely talking about these issue are taboo.  However, the more we treat them as taboo, the less we learn from each other.  If we are unwilling to learn about what this world is truly about, then we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, but we’re ultimately no better than the negativity we attempt to hide from.  The only way we get to win, is to engage in dialogue and continue to learn from each other, the good and the bad.  Unfortunately YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD BLACK MAN won’t be around to save every day.

Duck and Cover

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See, I started this blog with the hope that I could have enough inspiration to continue to entertain myself and write so freely.  Thankfully, the world is never short of dumbasses that need explanation by Your Friendly Neighborhood Black Man.

In an article from GQ Magazine in their January issue, a cast/family member of the television series “Duck Dynasty” created a bit of a stir this week when he was asked questions about his religious beliefs and life experiences.  The television network that airs the hit show suspended Phil Robertson(the crazy, angry looking fucker all the way on the right) for comments he made regarding homosexuals, black folks and other actions and people that don’t ascribe to his worldview.  

The self-described Bible thumper, unprompted described what he considers “sinful” is homosexual behavior and put it on the level as bestiality, terrorist and drunks.  He goes on to say that homosexuality is illogical and also has some absolutely ignorant comments to say about black folks living in the segregated south when he was younger.  He said that black folks were happier before entitlements and welfare.  By the way, he would also state in the same article that if the human race loved each other they would be better off… which wildly contradicts his poor opinion of Black America and gay and lesbian folks.  Which is to say the least.  The entire article is rife with ignorance and contradictions and it’d be too hard for me to track them all down.  He’s pretty much some crabby old redneck, set in his ways and opinions and thinks they fit comfortably with the rest of the world, thankfully: They don’t.

But because of his dumbass, several more dumbasses across Facebook, Twitter and Fox News outlets everywhere are up in arms about the First Amendment being under attack and not having the freedom to believe in God.  Which is bullshit, but the numbers of idiots eating this shit up are about as gullible as the number of people who frequently watch the show.  What these people all seem to be forgetting are a few things they should keep in mind when trying to make this into a matter of having the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.  You have to know that this is NOT about Religion.  This is about being offensive, about making asinine remarks and misrepresenting someone who gives you money.  Phil Robertson is absolutely free to believe what he wants.  So are hundreds of thousands more.  I’ll readily admit I share some of his beliefs.  But that don’t mean I’m going to go on record with hateful idiotic rhetoric especially if I know how it will be taken.  For this, his freedom of Religion is grounded in the Freedom of Speech, which HAS consequences.  You can’t get mad or feign outrage because someone says something you disagree with.  Ben White from Politico said it best:

“I don’t know why we have to constantly relearn that the 1st Amendment does not include a right to a cable TV gig.”

In case you haven’t realized, freedom of speech is quite universal, which means others are free to respond to your freedom of speech with their own freedom of speech.  That includes employers.  A&E are free to do whatever they wish with their contracts if it will affect their bottom line being associated with his remarks.  If you don’t like it, don’t hate them for exercising the same right you claim they are denying Phil Robertson.  In the end however, if you’re not ready for the consequences of your Freedom of Speech then maybe you ought to practice your right to remain silent instead.

What Not To Say In Connecticut

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This week, I drive to work across the state of Connecticut and this is what I see.  Though my windshield is pretty dirty and grungy from a mountain of snow I wiped off, I immediately recognized where exactly I was.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t curious to go take a look.  I exited.  Drove around, stopped at a grocery store and a Subway to get lunch.  Not that I was expecting to see anything out of place or different or altered for occasion, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be THAT guy.  I didn’t want to be that annoying tourist to stop by a place that lived through an unimaginable tragedy and be THAT guy.

“Hey isn’t this that place where that guy shot all those kids?”

After I drove through Newtown, Connecticut, I arrived at work and sat with a customer.  In offering her assistance, I had to ask where she lived and she told me Newtown.  She told me she was a teacher.  I can’t say it isn’t a natural reaction, but when I heard her responses, my mind wondered.  I didn’t know her background, but I didn’t want to be that douchebag that ask either.

“Hey, did you know any of those kids that got shot at that school?” 

On December 14, 2012, 20-year old Adam Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza killing her instantly.  He then proceeded to the school she where she worked, forced his way in and shot to death 26 other, 20 of which were children in the same first grade class.  Before the authorities could arrive on the scene, Adam Lanza then shot himself ending the secondly most deadly mass shooting by a single person in the 236 year history of the United States of America.  This shooting set off a cascade of reactions to not just gun violence, but gun safety and ownership across the nation.  Tragic as his actions where, they were unfortunately not unfamiliar to our society by now.  A shooting in a crowded theater.  A shooting at a Arizona supermarket.  A shooting on a military base.  A shooting at another military facility.  A shooting on a college campus.  Sadly, this list goes on.  What goes on that goes fairly under-reported is how common shootings are in general.  

Nearly 200 children have been shot to death in the year since Adam Lanza ended his rampage. Since the 26 who were killed at the hands of Adam Lanza, nearly 34,000 others have been killed by firearms in the United States.  THIS is a PROBLEM.  It has been a problem in this country.  Tragically for some unspeakable reason, we have absolutely no will to begin to address it.  All we have done is excuse it.  Now, right now, I will not dive to deep on the matter(here and now), but there are things we could be doing in this country, that we should be doing that we are not.  The unfortunate truth is that however many things there are things you should not say in Connecticut, apparently there are things you shouldn’t say in America:

“Maybe we should find a way to lower the amount of gun violence in America.”

The moment you do, that is the moment you are labaled a communist, socialist(as if either of those had anything to do with saving lives) hippy that wants to disarm all Americans and turn the nation into a totalitarian state like Nazi Germany.  Admittedly, I do have my position on the matter, but I also realize how impractical it is to realistically want to disarm an entire nation that will unwillingly cooperate.  But regardless of that, I know that there is a better way.  No matter how you slice it, the rate we kill people in this country makes us look barbaric.  It makes us look like monsters.  No other first world nation has such a third world problem, but we insist on such a willingness that allows alarming rate of death.  But, like I said earlier, we see nightly news reports of death and we think nothing.  It’s not that we don’t care, but we’re use to it.  From our early days of a Colonial America that manifest it’s own destiny to an wild or untamed western frontier to brutal rise of organize crime and drug trade that has degraded our cities, violence is something that we’ve become all to familiar with in this nation.  This leads to one more thing that can be said, regardless of how hard of a truth it is to hear:

VIOLENCE IS AN AMERICAN TRADITION.