Category Archives: D.C.

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 a land of heroes and honor

Vigil held in rememberance of September 11th

How has our Nation changed since the attacks on September 11th, 2001? Did Osama Bin Laden’s death bring any closure for us?

I had often wondered how our Country would react when Osama Bin Laden was captured or killed and that day finally came.

Now the 10 year mark, or anniversary, of the attack on our Nation is just days away. This tragedy is often talked about and looked at on a large scale as something that happened to our Nation, as one, and in a way it did. Many parts of our national security have been changed.

However, the effects that linger on in our Nation are something that can be looked at individually. Life, for many has taken on new meaning. The individual security we once had, as well as a great deal of conveniences, has been changed. What was once thought to be a simple weekend get-a-way or business trip isn’t the same anymore.

Those passengers aboard United Flight #93 did not hand over their boarding pass knowing they would be called upon to make a decision to save countless lives and go down in history as heroes to so many. Was it a decision or did they just carry out a selfless act as they would have in any situation put in front of them any other day of their life?

At Ground Zero that day, the first responders grabbed their gear and set out to save lives as tragedy continued to unfold around them and around our Nation, yet none of us really knew just how horrific these moments would turn out to be even as they happened in front of our eyes. Like I said, this was unimaginable to us, at the time.

Alongside those first responders at Ground Zero were many everyday men and woman, now referred to as heroes, helping each other and doing whatever they could to assist the city’s firefighters, police and other rescue workers, offering a hug or an arm to someone who was too weak to walk or plenty of people who were consumed by dust. Were they trained to do this? How could they have known they would be needed in this situation? But, they helped in any way they could. That makes them heroes, to me.

On September 11th, 2001, something we never imagined could happen to our Country, the United States of America, did. As one plane after another flew into incredible buildings taking them down and thousands of lives with them, our lives were forever changed.

However, the response across America, overwhelming and almost instantly was brotherhood, heroism, united efforts, strangers reaching out to strangers, and people offering one another peace in a time of grief and utter devastation. In a time of chaos, when people could have been at their worst, the united response was to rise up and come out giving comfort and show that together we can get through anything.

America is a land of opportunity, a land of ideas and solution, heroes and honor. All of this goes together when we all come together, to stand strong, united.

On this September 11th, let’s keep our unity strong so America can flourish, strengthen and together, move forward.

Below is a song/video Tribute “America Stand Strong” – Tribute to 9/11 which you can use this link if the video area doesn’t appear. Please feel free to share your comments on the tribute or how 9/11 affected you, where you were on that day or how you live life differently now.




The song, “America Stand Strong”, was written and composed on September 12, 2001 by Myron Solomon.


Myron is a U.S. Army Veteran who now serves with the Department of Homeland Security


Past article on September 11th attacks written in 2010

“Looking back and moving forward on 9/11”

Finding a long-term career in today’s unstable economy

Susanne Goldstein - The Career Artist

As Washington continues its debate of who will “win” in something that is not a game at all, many Americans are growing more exhausted of the way this is not only getting hashed out on Capital Hill, but also how it seems to be leading up to yet another campaign period with more promises, pointing fingers, no accountability and the American people being left in the dark. And, the same question has still gone unanswered, where are the jobs?

Does the average politician have any idea what is really going on in our country? Have they totally lost touch with what they have actually been elected to do? When is the last time they have stepped back from their debates and political rivalry to really focus on what is going on in the average American household (not statistics or numbers they are handed) and take that into account?

In an AOL article entitled, “If the stock market is so up, why are the jobs so down?”, by Amazon best-selling Author and Career expert, Susanne Goldstein writes about what is occurring within the American workforce, job market, Wall Street and Washington DC. Goldstein points out how this is affecting all who are seeking not only jobs, but careers and a stable future.

During my interview with Goldstein, we discussed this must-read article which is chalk full of information for those who have an established career and for those who are looking for a job. She makes it very clear that during these last few years is necessary to always be prepared for things to change. The best way to know what is going on is to stay informed, always be willing to learn. Look at each day as a new chance to learn something that will most likely benefit you in the future if not now.

Goldstein points out in her article that the Dow Jones has grown nearly 200% while the economy has continued to flounder around since March 6, 2009. With job growth nowhere in sight she says, “Americans feel like they are watching the fat cats of Wall Street cash in once again.”

With the news on a 24/7 cycle, it can get to the point that a person only hears either one side of what is going on or an overwhelming amount of bad news. This can convince anyone “their situation” is so bad there is no possible way for something as simple as securing a new job or setting out on a new career path. However, finding a job and “painting the door” to your career is the answer to each person’s life and the American economy.

When it comes to the economy and the jobless rate, Goldstein points out the importance of taking the lead in making changes, with the way you approach a job search or even a promotion in a current job. Are you at the right place to make the most out of your skills, education, passions and strengths? If you aren’t making the money or getting the promotion you feel you are entitle to, it may be time to access your job with your qualifications. Also, “if you are miserable at your job and have qualifications for another career, it is possible you could find further growth some place else. The fact is, the person most connected to your needs is you and the person most concerned for your needs is you.”

It’s interesting, if you watch the news, you will often hear nearly everyone who has run and/or will run for an elected office say, “What the American people want” or “What the American people need”. These statements have basically turned into campaign slogans more than actual words of concern.

Discussing what is going on in Washington today with Susanne Goldstein, I asked her opinion on why politicians seem to be so out of touch with their constituents and are not even listening to what the American people seem to be openly voicing? She feels that the politicians in Washington aren’t as “localized” as they were and as “tuned in to” what may necessarily be going on in their districts. “Many politicians will say one thing during the campaign, possibly even mean it but when they get to Washington, things change”. The main reason for this change is due to the way the system works in Washington.

The voters have their say for who goes to Washington but is the voter making a decision on who they want to represent them in Washington or what political Party they want to go to Washington?

As the overall economy has changed in America, many Americans have also changed. Businesses want to get the same amount of business done using fewer employees for less pay and fewer benefits. Many Americans want to get more done, in less time and for less money. One side says it is being tight fisted because the economy is forcing it to do so but, at the same time, is it just holding onto the money, not wanting to pay for the services rendered or for something that rightfully cost money? Is this coming down to overall greed?

The problem focusing on quicker returns with lesser investments, of either capital or time, has led to the overall loss of innovation in America. The less time and commitment an employee, business owner or investor puts into a company or into our markets, the less they feel they have to ultimately gain or lose.

Throughout history, our continued desire for innovation has led us to focus and invest in higher education and research. This has led America into areas we would have never realized had we not had the ability to grow and learn. This desire came from people wanting to go beyond what some felt were only dreams but others realized were possibilities. The ability to dream and achieve cannot be stomped out because of low points in our economy or the feeling of inability to rise above a lack of finding a job or career.

I will close with this line from Susanne Goldstein’s article and her best-selling book, “Carry A Paintbrush”. It is talking about Darwin’s quote “survival of the most adaptable.”

Quote: “Until you are ready to take charge of, and own, your career, you won’t have one.”

You can find out more information about Susanne Goldstein at: http://carryapaintbrush.com

Her Best-selling book “Carry A Paintbursh” is available on Amazon (Kindle version too!)

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Is Obama’s faith really the issue?

During the 2008 campaign, even earlier, Obama was questioned multiple times about his religion. Now it is all over the news again as the November 2010 elections near. Is it because it is truly a concern or because it is a campaign tool?

It is true, President Obama’s father was born in Kenya, raised as a Muslim but Obama’s father had lost his faith and become a “confirmed atheist”. Later, his mother married an Indonesian man, Lolo Soetoro, a “non-practicing” Muslim. None of this makes President Obama a Muslim.

For over 20 years, Obama has professed to being a Christian and has spoken publicly of his “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”


Video – Obama’s Christian Faith (unedited)




Anyone who comes out and makes a public statement on their religious belief and faith and then has numerous people turn around and say otherwise has just been called a liar. This is what has continuously happened time and time again, not only by individuals but by different journalist, religious leaders, radio commentators, talk show hosts and news organizations.

Also during the campaign, one of the churches Obama had attended, Trinity United Church of Christ, was the center of much controversy due to Reverend Wright and some of his sermons and statements made to the press. The issue came up whether his radicalized views would have had any effect on Obama during his time of attending Wright’s church. There were mixed reactions but the more Wright spoke out, the more negative the reactions became. After multiple statements of Wright’s were released, Obama stated,” I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit.” He went on to say “Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.”

On May 31, 2008 Obama resigned his membership from the church.

U.S. presidents throughout history have chosen to attend churches in the D.C. area and during the time prior to the Obama’s arrival, churches in the area and even outsiders were eager to learn where the Obama Family might pick to choose as their place of worship.

Although Ronald Reagan did not attend church during his presidency, he had different spiritual advisors, one of which was Billy Graham. Reagan said it was a hassle for the church to set up security screening for all of its parishioners. The Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist and Chelsea sang in the youth choir.

George W. Bush was never a regular member of any local church. He preferred to mostly worship in the chapel at Camp David, Evergreen Chapel.

At this time, President Obama has been following George W. Bush and worshiping at Evergreen Chapel as the primary place of worship with his family. After a 5 month search by Obama, White House aides, family and friends, this seems to be the best place. Due to security issues and the fact even longtime members were not able to get into their own churches because of long lines and feeling as though a person was worshiping on display was all part of the decision.

Although, it has been said, the search for a D.C. church continues.

When it comes to a person’s faith, it is a personal choice that is made by that person at a time when that person feels lead to make the decision. When asked what their religion of choice is and an answer is given, calling them a liar or questioning them seems senseless and Christianity is faith-based. For a Christian to question another person’s Christianity shows a lack of their own faith and for the Christian Community to continue to stand up and question the presidents walk with God after he has publicly said he has a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” shows a lack of faith within the Christian community. Does one Christian typically question another Christian?

To become a Christian, it doesn’t matter who your Mom is or who your Dad is. It doesn’t matter where you were born or where you were raised. It doesn’t matter what your past is or what your job is. But by faith, you can ask Christ into your heart to live within you and forgive you of your sins. It is having a personal relationship with Christ.

You see it doesn’t matter if you were Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Atheist or whatever. A person can always become a Christian. A Christian doesn’t have to be someone that is wearing a sign saying they are a Christian or out yelling at others that they are a Christian and someone else isn’t a Christian. That doesn’t make someone more of a Christian or a better Christian. Going to church every Sunday doesn’t make someone a better Christian. What matters is the person you are and how you are treating others and living as Christ would want you to. Being full of hate and causing others to be the same way doesn’t seem to be a very Christian thing to do.

If someone says they are a Christian, who is someone else to say they aren’t or say they are lying?

God?


Video (34 minutes unedited)



This video is very worth viewing, especially with the way things have been recently.

In 2008 Obama spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He spoke about Unity, deficit of morality, empathy deficit and about the problems with people looking too much at the differences of others and not their likenesses. He spoke about politicians and media exploiting these issues. He goes on to say in this 34 minute video to say we each carry the challenge to change this. “We can’t build ourselves up by tearing each other down.”