Protecting Our Students

I started this as a Facebook status that morphed into a blog entry. It is obviously not my typical subject category, but I feel this needs to be written and explored. This is not the time for hate, rhetoric, or FB political discussions that tend to be non-productive at best. It is a time for love, light, and actual discussion of a solution to solve this problem. One of my unwritten rules of this blog was no politics. I am breaking that rule today.

politics

I am scared, confused, and heartbroken for not only my country, but also every citizen in it. Risk is a part of my life. It is part of what makes it fun and fulfilling when we push ourselves to be better or do something outside our comfort zone. Risk should not include seeing a movie, going to school, or church. Death should not be a considered risk for going out.

I respect and support the right to own guns, but there is not one reason outside of the military and law enforcement that anyone needs a semi-automatic assault rifle. NO ONE. Not hunters and not people who shoot for the skill. I have lots of friends who own guns, and most of them say there is no reason for people to own semi-automatic assault rifles.

GunControlMeme

How did we get here? I am not even a parent yet, and I am almost scared for my cousins and all my friends with kids. How is this okay?! How do we teach them to love and live in a world that is filled with hatred? These are hard questions that are just getting more complicated and scary. School teachers who texted their spouses something like this: “don’t be a hero and get out of there if [a school shooting] were to happen”. This is NOT normal.

School is hard enough without having to worry about getting shot in the process. I am not being glib. Middle school is brutal, and it doesn’t get much better in high school. And now some of them have to contend with the thought of being shot, too?

Five school shootings this year, that’s a little less than one a WEEK since the beginning of the year (Cox, et. al). Something needs to change. The country and our kids deserve something more than thoughts and prayers because that phrase gets more hollow every time mass shootings happen with no action to back up those thoughts and prayers. Do they (Congress, leaders) prayer for a safer life and community? Do something about it that will actually ensure change for those prayers and not just rhetoric for a sound bite.

arm every teacherThere have been studies from around the world of why mass shootings are such an issue in the United States. Many theories abound: lack of mental healthcare; it’s a violent society, and it’s a divisive country. It’s quite simple, and it’s about math. It’s the astronomical amount of guns. We hold 4.2% of the population, but an almost an insane 42% of the world’s guns. Only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings than the United States (Fisher et al). The article is quite a stark look at gun facts across the globe. The difference is the culture and the choice we have made over the years. Unregulated gun rights versus responsibility and cost of society. Life is about choice, and government is no different.

john oliver

Depending on the source the number varies to as low as 25.  It’s still a high number.

I am not delusional in thinking that there will be sensible gun laws enacted any time soon. In fact our president repealed the mental health background checks last February. The first argument will be “but the 2nd amendment!” Yes, we have the right to bear arms. I do think it’s safe to say that there should be restrictions in the right to obtain those arms. I hope there aren’t too many logical person that actually thinks the government is coming after your legal guns that you already own. I would be very interested to see actual evidence that this has ever happened in the United States in recently history (meaning the last 25 years). I am not talking about buying back gun programs; I am referring to guns permanently removing legally obtained guns from a house that were not connected to a crime. I am not saying it hasn’t happened, but it’s probably pretty rare.

Another favorite argument, the criminals will get guns anyway so why make it harder for responsible citizens to get one? Agreed, people will always find a way to get something if they really want to. But why not make it harder for them to get it legally? Stronger background checks is something 90% of Americans and even 52% to 74% of NRA members approve of (Parker 2017, Kertscher 2015, respectively). Another argument is Chicago’s gun violence, which does have strict gun control laws. The surrounding states, however, do not have strong gun laws. More than half the number of guns recovered in crimes came from out of state (Kurtzleben 2017).

forefathers

I love this country. I think we are in a time of transition, and we aren’t quite sure where to go or who we are. We are like teenagers, and there’s so much at stake. Not just for this country, but for the globe. The United States has set the precedent for many world issues in the past, and we have fallen behind in many areas. I almost feel like it’s Star Wars, and the country is being pulled to the Dark Side. There is a growing divide in this country of hate and derision that is only getting stronger and spreading. I do not pretend to know the answers, nor do I wish for this to extend into the typical online forum of very little discussion and much rhetoric. I am all for an actual discussion though. Let there be peace and change.

Sources

Cox, John Woodword and Steven Rich. The Washington Post, 2/15/2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/.

Fisher, Max and Josh Keller. “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer”. The New York Times, 11/7/2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html.

Kertscher 2015. “Most NRA members back background checks on all gun purchases”.   Politifact, Times Publishing Company, 3/18/2015. http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2015/mar/18/lena-taylor/most-nra-members-back-background-checks-all-gun-pu/.

Kurtzleben 2017. “Fact Check: Is Chicago Proof that Gun Laws Don’t Work?” National Public Radio, NPR, 10/05/2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/10/05/555580598/fact-check-is-chicago-proof-that-gun-laws-don-t-work.

Parker 2017. “Among gun owners, NRA members have a unique set of views and experiences”. The Pew Research Center, 7/5/2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/07/05/among-gun-owners-nra-members-have-a-unique-set-of-views-and-experiences/.

 

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Myth of Self-Depreciation Humor

I am from Jersey, which means a few things. I know what a jughandle is; we understand how to navigate a traffic circle, and we not only talk sarcasm we breed it. I get it. I have done it. I lived it, been proud of it. We wear sarcasm like armor.  There is sarcasm which can be witty, and then there is self-depreciation “humor”.

The more time I have spent with my family recently, whom I love dearly, it is readily apparent how frequently some of them use the latter as a deflection tactic in the aim of humor that I used for years. No one likes a person who takes themselves too seriously, but there is a line between light-hearted banter and consistently put yourself down.  It is not funny to actively break your own self down. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because your brain doesn’t know what is true and what isn’t.  If you say it enough times, even if it was jokingly at first, it becomes a reality in your mind.  A reality that is incredibly challenging to break.  I did this for years. And there’s a reason people do it.

day stop self-destruction

Depending on your life experiences, it can be easy to make fun of yourself. You may say, “easy?”  If this is your reaction, I am epically happy for you.  If you come from a background of belittling, bullying or abuse it becomes is a defense mechanism. In one’s mind they think, “what must this person be thinking about me? I’ll short circuit their thinking and prevent their verbal strike by making myself smaller.” What is the one thing above anything else that human beings protect themselves against from an evolutionary perspective? Being hurt and pain. It’s instinctual and biological, and fighting instinct is a formidable task. Eventually when you experience that much emotional pain, the self-depreciation humor becomes like Captain American’s protective shield. I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and it became crystal clear today when I heard it multiple times from multiple people I care about. These are smart and successful people who have no business saying they are a loser or lazy.

goal bullshit story

On the opposite side of all this are the people who have hurt you in the past. I am not saying whatever they did was justified because it most likely wasn’t.  I have come to the conclusion that most people do not mean to be hurtful in their actions. Most people love and act the best way they know how, and sometimes it’s incredible destructive because that’s all they have been taught. It sucks on both ends of the interaction.

One of the most painful parts of this discovery is how real this reality has been for me.  I am certain I did this on a daily basis. It is the self-worth onion that is continually evolving. It literally pains me to hear the ones I love say these things about themselves. Because I know it’s not true.  It also makes things so much clearer as to why I did it for so long.  It’s what I knew.

permission

I don’t have a solution to this. The armor is kind of like the Emperor’s new clothes. It is not real. And eventually that armor actually ends up being more of a self-penetrating device because it punctures your self-confidence every time you use your self-imposed ammunition of protection.

Emotional Availability

I have multiple close friends who have trust issues (me included), and we completely understand the limitations of that barrier. There comes a point, however, where there’s gotta be a give back on some level. Even if it’s small.

This is hard for me to admit to, let alone severe the emotional cord. Let me be clear, this is not a friend breakup; this is an emotional breakup. I am still going to be friends, but I am going to do my damnest to not be quite as emotionally invested. It completely sucks, and for anyone that knows me, this takes a lot to push me this far. Or in this case, I don’t deserve or want to be at that point with her. We have been through a lot of shit together, and lately there is no emotional connection. Despite that we are both dealing with some of the hardest things either of us have gone through.   There is “let’s get together soon, I love you, etc.” I know she does love me (we say that a lot in my friend circle), but there is no follow up to complete the intention. Little to None.

She’s in a difficult situation right now, which I respect and that she probably doesn’t see. It physically hurts me (thanks empathy) to see her where she is in her life, and all of that I am okay to deal with. I can process that level of hurt with someone, and have done it more times than I would like. The not being able to connect with her on a deeper level anymore is where I now draw the boundary.  This is probably due to us being so close at one point.

that is pain

I am crying as I write this because I just came to terms with this today. And it hurts so damn much to have to do it. I have been on the opposite side of this. The non-giving side, and I didn’t realize what was going on at the time. I didn’t realize that by not offering any kind of emotional connection, which I thought was a burden, that it actually hurt their feelings when I didn’t. Once I realized that a few months ago, my past friend relationships and the fault in retaining them became so much clearer.

This is and is also not like that. Then I wouldn’t give any emotion to anyone, unless I was really not in a thinking frame of mind (e.g. drinking, a lot). We have extensively had that kind of emotional bond, and for some reason it hurts significantly more than if we never had that it.

I am also not saying it can’t come back, but I also highly doubt it’ll be like it was. The trust is gone, on both sides at this point. I can pinpoint when it happened, and I wish I could say I was sorry. It needed to happen, and I was hoping the aftermath would not be this result. It’s all good. The universe will conspire in one way or another to solve it, and this is another step to understanding my fellow human.