Archive for December, 2012

Innocence lost

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Tragic.  Senseless.  Heartbreaking.  Unfathomable. Trot out all the usual adjectives to describe another massacre. Twenty six people, including 20 children, are dead tonight because someone who shouldn’t have been allowed within 100 yards of a gun held one in his hands.

A man walks into a crowd carrying a gun. Sounds like the first line of an old joke. Yet the only stories repeated more often than old jokes these days are stories about killing sprees in movies theaters, malls and schools. The latest story took place in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. This one hit too close to home; but in reality, they all hit too close to home for someone.

Before too long, another massacre will hit too close to home for someone else. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun advocates will once again remind us that, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” They’ll also remind us of our constitutional right to bear arms — for protection. But I’ve always wondered, how come we never hear stories about people sitting at home minding their own business and having to kill armed intruders for protection? Instead, we hear stories about places like Virginia Tech, Columbine, Aurora and now Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

When are we going to wake up and address this national epidemic? Sure, we can put x-ray machines and metal detectors at the door of every school, store and public building in the nation. Yes, we can produce public service messages about gun safety. Yet these solutions are like applying a band-aid to the gaping wound caused by an automatic weapon.

When the founders of our country insured our right to bear arms I hardly think they imagined a day when a gun could kill dozens of people in the time it took them to load, fire, and reload their reliable old flintlock rifle. The only people who need these guns are the people who want to kill lots of other people and kill them quickly. The best way to prevent the next massacre is to cut off some lunatic’s easy access to automatic weapons. If that means the rest of us can’t get our hands on them either, consider it a fair trade-off for real safety — and a much more effective means of protection than taking our shoes off before boarding an airplane. 

Innocence went up against evil this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School and innocence lost. How many more times do the innocent have to lose before we match the gun advocates dollar for dollar, sound-bite for sound-bite, and lobbyist for lobbyist, and get automatic weapons off the street and out of our neighborhoods?

Making the first move

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Baseball fans will remember that earlier this year All-Star free agent Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract to play for the Detroit Tigers. Tiger fans rejoiced, and Fielder was a key element in the Tigers’ run to the World Series this fall. 

Fielder is not the first member of his family to gain noteriety as a Detroit Tiger. Prince’s father Cecil was a slugging first baseman for the team in the 1980s and 1990s. When Prince was a boy, Tiger Stadium was his personal Field of Dreams.

When Prince signed with Cecil’s old team their complicated father/son relationship was highlighted in the media almost as often as Prince’s batting and home run records. According to reports the two had been estranged for years. Prince blamed Cecil for being an absent father. There was also a difficult divorce between Cecil and Prince’s Mom; and allegations that Dad had taken money from his son’s signing bonus to pay gambling debts.

In one story Cecil reported he had recently reached out to his son and the two were talking “a little bit.” When the reporter asked Cecil why he reached out to his son after so long the father responded, “Someone had to make the first move.” 

Parent/child relationships are complicated; even relationships untouched by parental alienation. Parents estranged from their children, however, should not dismiss the importance of “making the first move” — no matter how long it’s been since they spoke with their children. People change. Children grow up. While parents and children tend to think about each other as they remember them, both parties have lived a lifetime of experiences since the last time they spoke. These experiences are often reminders that past wrongs, both real and imaginary, aren’t always very important in the present.

The holidays are in full swing and at some point the media will report on the latest holiday miracle. Parents who make the first move with their estranged children, even after many years, might have their own miracles to report this holiday season.

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