Category Archives: “America is more than a country”

When will massacres matter enough to cause change?

“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.” President Obama in statement made following the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre killing 20 children and 6 adults in the school.

Where do Americans stand on gun laws? Gun control?

In a pew poll taken after the assassination attempt on Congresswomen Gabriella “Gabby” Giffords, the country was divided. 49% said it was “more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns” and 46% said it was “more important to control gun ownership.”

After the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 76% said, “There should be some restriction on owning guns,” according to a CNN/ORC poll.

At present time, roughly half of American states allow gun owners to carry their weapon openly into public places.

Also, making more news recently is the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law really came into the public eye during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

There are a host of other states with very similar laws.

Florida, as well as others in this list do not have a “duty to retreat” clause which means if you can get away without harm or deadly force but shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. Most of the states with the “Stand Your Ground” law do not have the “duty to retreat” clause. Many of these laws are written in a vague way leaving the law to be used as a “blanket way out” for many shootings.

These laws were often introduced as a way to help “victims” in cases such as domestic violence where victims often felt blocked and unable to flee or ended up shooting their attackers (which happened to be their domestic partner) and found it near impossible to defend themselves in court. When was it okay to kill someone under your own roof?

But, the law has left it open for arguments leading escalating, turning into assaults and then murder to be defended under the “Stand Your Ground” law. What would have been different if a person hadn’t had a firearm on them? What if they didn’t feel it was okay to cry “self-defense” in what would typically end up in an assault and battery case but instead, someone is dead. Has the law been a positive or a negative? Who has it actually helped more?

Guns and politics have become so entwined as the NRA has become more involved through the years with politics, legislation and politicians.

The NRA runs ads campaigning for those who promote their cause and against those standing in the way of their proposed changes in existing laws or future goals.

By funding politicians, their campaigns and having their own people in Washington, the NRA is assured of having a way to get current policies changed or new legislation passed, changed or set aside. The problem is much of this happens without knowledge of the general public both through state government and federal government.

NRA does not run the US government and does not make the choices for what is good for America. That is done through the voters. We vote who we want at both the state level and the national level. Are we listening to what these politicians are standing for and against? Who is supporting them and funding their campaigns? What are their intentions?

Ask yourself why the NRA has had nothing to say since this most recent massacre? Statements have come out from all over the world. World leaders are offering condolences. Many actors and actresses are coming forward and saying things should be done with violence in movies and TV may need to be looked at. Networks rearranged TV schedules following the massacre due to programming that may have been viewed as showing things in bad taste.

Sunday morning talk shows have done numerous interviews and Meet the Press asked any of 31 pro-gun senators to appear but none responded. Silence speaks volumes.

Using the words “gun control” is beginning to sound UN-American. I think doing nothing as we are seeing more massacres, people crying in disbelief as their loved ones are being identified, going through autopsies and realizing their last conversation was their LAST conversation… that is UN-American.

Personally, I can’t participate in ignoring an issue that is continuously being swept under the rug by groups that argue for their freedoms while others are losing their loved ones, their lives and their future or their sense of security. What about their freedom, our freedom?

Weapons used for hunting and sporting do not call for assault weapons or weapons with large magazines that can gun down numerous people (or animals) in just seconds or minutes.

Many assault weapons are not for either of these uses and are only used to promote keeping an argument going instead of coming to an agreement.

Responsible and legitimate gun owners, politicians and people across America need to give pause to this, put politics aside and be able to really look at this very serious issue, discuss it (peacefully) and deal with it.

Yes, there should be limits, laws, background checks and training required. Yes, there should be renewed proof of this at the time of license renewals for each weapon. A responsible gun owner would understand the need for this because they would only want other responsible and trained, regularly licensed gun owners having other weapons as well.

A major argument is that responsible gun owners and legally purchased guns are not the problem.

My first response is I find it amazing that each “responsible gun owner” can speak for all the other “responsible gun owners” as though they meet all the time and know each other very well.

My second response is that is not true. Legally purchased guns end up in the wrong hands more often than these “responsible gun owners” must realize. The ability to purchase guns is far too easy in far too many places. There needs to be universal laws when it comes to background checks, waiting periods, guns and ammo purchases and an assault weapon ban.

My third response is this. ”Responsible gun owners” do not come with a magic chip in them saying they are responsible, will keep their weapons locked up properly, only use their weapon in the absolute necessity that it is needed and will be in 100% tip top emotional and mental condition for the rest of their life. They also don’t have the promise no one in their family won’t get to their weapons or someone breaking into their home won’t be able to do the same. There are no guarantees.

The NRA makes it seem as though guns are the answer to protection and the government and its laws are trying to take that away from people.

For those trying to hide behind the 2nd amendment, they aren’t the ones who control this discussion. The idea however of more guns being the answer has proven to be wrong, dead wrong.

This is a must read article by:  Mother Jones, “More guns, more mass shootings – coincidence?” Their team put together a lot of facts about guns, violent crimes, laws and changes through a lot of investigating on their part. I urge you to look at the numbers.

Also, looking at some graphs put together by Simon Rogers with the Guardian, America is well armed compared to other societies around the world (88 per 100) and our gun violence speaks for approximately 60% of all homicides.

Another argument is not only guns take lives.

True. It isn’t just a weapon that ends a life. It is a person who believes they have a justified reason to do so.

As humans we react many times out of emotion. In many of these cases, there are feelings of anger, hate, revenge, defeat, entrapment and many times nobody knows what set a person off to commit such violent crimes.

The right thing to do, if a person is thinking rationally is to walk away, take some time to think things over, seek some advice or maybe get more details. A lot of times people are going through situations where counseling is needed and has been needed but either they didn’t know it, didn’t seek it or it wasn’t available.

Too often, a gun is too easily available to pick up, steal or purchase.

Not everyone committing these horrible murders/suicides, massacres and violent crimes were “monsters” before these acts. Many times, no one noticed any signs of behavior change, isolation, depression or signs of mental illness. Other times, it was noticed but they were unable to get help or convince the person to get help.

Does that mean people with emotional or mental illnesses are “monsters”? No. It means people with problems need to be able to seek help, get the proper diagnosis, counseling, medications and not be labeled with a stigma as being “crazy”.

If a person in need of help seeks help and receives help, this is definitely not “crazy”. That is the right thing to do and it should definitely be available to anyone in need of these services.

Many people with emotional and mental illnesses can live fulfilling lives alongside everyone else if they are able to get the medical and emotional help necessary. This important issue in our society cannot continue to be ignored. This is a huge gap in our healthcare system leading to economic and many other life issues. It is easier for Americans to access guns than mental health care. Without truly dealing with this, we can’t move forward on dealing with these murder/suicides, massacres and violent crimes.

There are two sides to be focused on immediately without involving political favors, campaigning, lobbyist and self-promotions.

1)      Too many weapons without just purpose or place in our society (other than within our military)

2)      Not enough available care and treatments for those with emotional and mental needs and disabilities.

For those who can’t clearly see these needs, they aren’t focusing on the real problems. They are standing in the way of what needs to lead to a drastic change.

We can’t just cover the cracks or kick the can down the road.

Our biggest war is going on here at home and our children and loved ones are the victims.

What is the difference between these recent massacres and 9/11? We are part of the blame. We vote. We have voices and if the issue isn’t being addressed, keep pursuing the issues.

These victims didn’t have a choice and now their voices have been silenced.

20 children silenced (ages 6 – 7) and 6 adults (their principal, school psychologist, two teachers, and teaching assistants)

This is our country, our communities and our neighborhoods. Those teachers are our teachers and those children are our children.

Speak up.

UPDATE: President Obama speaks at Newtown High School

Must see video below:

Video Tribute “Lives cut short by school shooting” – by: Anderson Cooper and the AC360 Team

 

Add on: “Balloons released to Heaven Among the Stars” Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT.

With love, 

Tribute to Sandy Hook, Newtown CT December 14, 2012

America is more than a country Pt. 3

As elections are nearing for November 2nd, more and more campaigning is going on and it is everywhere a person goes. To get away from campaigning or news about campaigns or candidates, someone would have to “unplug” from society.

However, voting is one of the most valuable and important rights as an American and although it does seem one candidate is saying one thing and another turns and says the exact opposite, the process is an important part of the ultimate outcome, your vote.

As an American, of legal voting age there is a big responsibility of being involved in the decision being made in your district, state and the country. Many decisions will have a lasting effect for a vast amount of people for a very long time, often generations.

For instance, the ability to vote was not granted to women until 1920 and African Americans were not fully able to vote until 1965 after Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. 

Voting is not something that should ever be taken lightly because it has taken a great deal to have the freedom to vote.

People in many countries do not have the freedom to vote and often times in countries that allow voting, not all citizens are allowed to vote (most often women).

The United States holds Federal Elections every two years. Every member of our House of Representatives and nearly one-third of the senate is up for either re-election or replacement on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Our presidential election takes place every four years and is watched internationally.

In the U.S. we have numerous political parties and more continue to be organized.

In office at the moment is the Democratic Party. By visiting democrats.org a person can learn more about the Democratic Party. There is a quote from John F. Kennedy on their site.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” President John F. Kennedy

The Democratic Party has this statement on their website as well.

“For more than 200 years Democrats have represented the interest of working families, fighting for equal opportunities and justice for all Americans.”

When going to the RNC (Republican National Committee page), which leads to gop.com, there is an area called “who we are”. It is lengthy so the link is there to click on and read.

A few things I picked out most from reading the “who we are” section though is the mentions of past presidents that were republicans because times have changed, parties have changed. Although the republican party of today may honor a past president does not mean those presidents would stand behind how their “party” is running things today. Of course, one could say the same thing of past Democratic presidents but the GOP website and party takes pride in talking about its past presidents so I am mentioning this.

Also, a disturbing fact is that the Republican party itself (of yesterday) did have a great deal to do with freeing slaves thanks to Abraham Lincoln and those that helped push the laws through that led to voting rights. Due to continued discrimination in many areas, especially the south, Lyndon B. Johnson, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Movement, was able to convince congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in 1965 passed the Voting Rights Act which outlawed discrimination in voting. This would finally allow many southern blacks to begin voting for the first time.

This may be something that was totally overlooked but even so, it is something that shouldn’t be overlooked by any party that is expected to be representing all of America. In their “A Pledge to America” agenda book, there are no minorities pictured. If there are, they are in some back corner somewhere and very hard to find. It seems to represent just a part of America. There are a good amount of pictures so there were plenty of chances to represent all of America and all the diversity America represents. Their pledge to America should be speaking to all voters unless they aren’t targeting their votes or not planning to work to assist the needs of minorities. Take a look.

With voting as not only a privilege but also a responsibility, a lot of emphasis is placed on elections. As years have gone on though, more and more emphasis is being placed on campaigns and less is being placed on the actual outcome of the process, the candidate that wins and how they will actually do in the office they are elected for. The fact is, during campaign time, the candidate will do just that, campaign. Promises will be made and each side will in some way or other attack the other side, often times saying lies or telling only part of the story which is purposely being done to mislead the voters. The excuse given is that, “this is just part of politics.” Does that make it right?

Too often, many people are listening to the candidate or those campaigning in their party and not checking the actual facts. Too often, the misleading campaign ads are taken literally. Too many people pass around false emails, edited and chopped off videos that when not seen in full become not only misleading but are used to spread lies. As a voter, a responsible voter, it is up to you to get the facts before casting your vote.

One good place to start is at factcheck.org which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. That is taken directly from their website. Their reports are updated regularly on all sides of politics and cover campaign ads, speeches, debates, etc.

The simple fact is there are many people who vote and many people that are qualified to vote that aren’t registered. The solution to having more people making a real difference is not simply getting more people registered but getting more people educated on the voting process, how to double check the candidates and the facts and the importance on being involved both at the time of campaigns and elections but also in between times.

People are always very concerned about what is going on in Washington but the concern for everyone should be what is going on around the nation, from coast to coast and with the people that live within these United States.

Who is helping keep our country safe? Who is looking worldwide to see how each nation is developing their safety, energy improvements, market stability and are we moving forward at the right pace to gain ground? Who has already made a difference in education and working to develop new ideas and more opportunities for our students and not only build a better tomorrow for them but also for our teachers to have access to a better curriculum, more advanced materials, more incentives, job security and better pay? Where do we stand with other countries in international relations and communications? Who is seeing that not only are they doing what is right for their own career but more importantly what is right for the American people? Who is making sure that the America of today will be a more advanced and healthy, educated with a strong military, financially more secure and internationally respected America of tomorrow?

Whether a candidate is running for Congress, Senate or the office of the President these questions should be asked. There should be an abundance of inquiries and one of the least important questions should be their political party. At the end of the day, it is clear to see how insignificant their party really is when it comes to getting things done. Getting things done has to do with working with others and the group of people that have ended up in Washington D.C. The problem right now is so much focus has been given to which party each candidate is on and which party has the majority in the House or Senate which is causing a total distraction from getting anything done in Washington and is not only hurting the country but also hurting individual Americans. Voters are also getting too caught up in casting their votes for a candidate not due to their qualifications but moreso for their party and/or being lead by false advertisements and campaigns.

A leader should be able to lead and work with anyone and put their political party aside because America is made up of people from all political parties and those with no political party. A voter should be able to put aside their political party for the same reason. Those in Washington are working for EVERYONE, not just those in their party. When party is standing in the way of progress, America is the one getting hurt. America is more than a country. America is families, children, students, sick individuals, people with hopes and dreams and people that will be leaders of tomorrow.

In Florida, October 4this the last day to register to vote for the November 2ndelections (some states differ). If you aren’t registered and want to take part in these elections, please register to vote. There is sure to be an abundance of campaign ads, debates and articles but remember, double check what you hear. Get the facts. Your vote represents you. The ballot you cast is private and the ability to vote is a privilege and a responsibility. Honor those that fought for that right.

Campaign ads aren’t meant to educate or be fair. They are meant to win votes.

For U.S. voter registration, please visit this link.

For Florida voter registration, please visit this link.

 

America is more than a country Pt. 2

Pt 2 of a series (see previous article)

As the GOP released their “Pledge to America”, many of its statements sounded good but go against what has been being said.

In Politico on August 18, 2010, Indiana’s Republican Rep. Mike Pence thought the Islamic Center in NYC was “not appropriate”, while John Boehner, Republican House Minority Leader called the decision to build the mosque and Obama’s support “deeply troubling,” and Cantor dubbed it “the height of insensitivity.”

Do they know there was a Muslim prayer room on the South Tower’s 17th floor of the World Trade Center? Do they realize there are over 600,000 Muslims living in NYC? Do they also realize there is a place for prayer at the Pentagon and services are held for Muslims multiple times each week? This has gone on without any issues. Why is that? This was also true after the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center which were carried out by the same type of extremist and took the lives of 6 people and injured 1,042 others. It doesn’t seem the politicians are trying to stop the building of any mosque or back up having it built for any reason other than to win voters. There are people that really do stand on one side or the other in sincerity but there are many others that are standing on the side of hate, discrimination or just standing without reason but doing so because the majority has taken a stand.

America comes first, before campaigning or popularity.

Going back to pledge.gop.gov

“America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.”

The statement is true. In America, a person can be many things if that person is willing to work hard, study hard, has ideas and some ambition. America has been built on these ingredients. This is what attracts so many people to want to come here and start a business, develop an idea or bring their family.

The question is are people able to come here, live here, be free here to raise their children and have a business, become citizens, go to school, practice their religion and truly be free as America and the Constitution says or are those words changing due to politics and fear being driven by a few and voiced over and over to more and more people? Or is that freedom only promised or offered to certain people?

Going back to pledge.gop.gov

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.”

In November 2008, the country voted to set out on a different course. Prior to that vote, things were completely off course. At that time, the housing market and economic downturn was already being said to have been the worst since the Great Depression. It was termed as the “Panic of 2008”.

In 2008 the majority of voters cast their ballot for change because they obviously wanted something, change.

Barack Obama was not only campaigning about bettering the economy, bringing healthcare to more of the uninsured, adding consumer credit protection, building a higher standard for our country’s declining educational system and its young people’s ability to pay to attend college. He was also campaigning for America and its ability to see within itself the need to achieve greater, expect more and to once again, move forward.

Barack Obama was running for the office of the President of the United States. In November 2008, he was elected into office and in January 2009, he took his position in the White House.

From the beginning of his presidency, he has set out to meet certain goals put forth during his campaign as well as help dig a country out of a turmoil it had sunk into over years of bad management, bad choices and now he was surrounded by onlookers daily wondering why he had no quick fixes. To say President Obama has not accomplished a great deal during his Presidency so far would be completely false. However, there is still a long way the country has to go.

In an interview via telephone from the Clinton Global Initiative this past week, Clinton urged the Democrats to start coming back at the GOP’s claims with facts. Give them statistics and show them exactly what the current administration has done to avert a more severe downturn.

Clinton said, “I think the Democrats ought to stand up and say… You gave them eight years to dig this hole and double the debt of this country and not to produce any jobs, and then to have a financial collapse and all of this calamity. At least give us four to dig out of it. If we’re wrong, throw us all out. But don’t bring back the people that dug the hole.”

America is more than a country Pt. 1

In reading over the GOP’s “A Pledge to America” agenda, although it seems so much is spelled out, there is really a lot left out or unsaid.

This is taken directly from the pledge.gop.gov website.

“America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.”

Is that what America is today? Is that what outsiders see when they look at America? More importantly, do people living right here in America feel that is what America is about?

These aren’t new words the GOP just came up with. These words are taken from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Declaration of Independence was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson as a formal explanation of why congress voted on July 2nd to become independent of Great Britain.

The U.S. Constitution was put together by 12 delegates of the 13 states. It is the supreme law of the United States and it lays out the frame work for the organization of the federal government, including its legal authority, its relationship with the states, the citizens and everyone else in the country.

Today, an outsider might see America as the best opportunity to start their own business or realize their dreams for their family. Another person may seek out America for medical treatments to save their loved one’s life or to prolong it with quality care. Someone hoping to become an actor or actress may see Hollywood, California as their dream destination. For whatever reason, over many years, there have been plenty of people to seek out their hopes and dreams here in America just as those who wrote the Declaration of Independence back in 1776.

America is a land of many people from all over the world. It’s such a diverse nation and rich with every culture and civilization. Every language is represented with each religion. These are great attributes and strengths that can only be found here in America.

America is also home to the United States Military who has endured missions all over the world in times of war and in times of peace. Wars have been fought here on our own land and our troops have also been called on during invasions of other countries to defend and protect the freedoms of others because one man’s freedom is another man’s freedom. Our troops have been called on to assist during natural disasters when help was needed from all over the world. During peace time, war times, any time, our troops have always stepped up and done what America has asked of them. They have always made America proud.

Many countries have ongoing human rights violations and their civilians endure endless fear, torture, rapes, killings and being on the run just to survive another day. Fleeing from one day to the next is brutal but necessary in Eastern Congo.

In Vietnam, police brutality is being looked at as people are dying while in police custody according to the Human Rights Watch. The HRW has documented 19 cases. According to Phil Robertson, their deputy Asia director, “Police brutality is being reported at an alarming rate in every region of Vietnam, raising serious concerns that these abuses are both systemic and widespread.”

In Thailand, five months after clashes between a group of anti-government protestors and security forces, the Human Rights Watch states the Thai government still uses the state of emergency that was declared on April 7, 2010.

This is allowing the security forces to hold detainees without charges up to 30 days, using unofficial detention facilities which does not give the detainees protection from abuse while being held but does give the guards immunity from prosecution for most acts they could commit.

Many have heard about Darfur in North Africa but may not realize this tragic situation is still ongoing. Millions of innocent people have been affected by this, over 200,000 have died and the numbers are continuing to add up.

What do these situations abroad have to do with America or individuals in America, our local community?

One of the biggest crimes against humanity is discrimination. By seeing another person as being less than one’s self due to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status, disability or for a variety of reasons is discrimination.

Along with discrimination comes disrespect. If a person truly had respect for another, they could not discriminate against them. Therefore to have respect for humanity, other cultures, religions, to be understanding of different races, showing respect for those that are different in any way, would be the first step to eradicate discrimination. Discrimination is most often an act of fear and/or a lack of knowledge and can grow into hate.

Although, America went through the Civil Rights movement in hopes to end discrimination, it still continues. Discrimination is not something controlled by government or laws, it is controlled by each individual and laws are merely in place to uphold the rights of people.

Please see parts 2 & 3 of this article.