Tag Archives: AC360

Begin Within

Do you hear that? The silence.
Do you see that? The dark.
Those glances, so scolding.
Cold whispers leave marks.

Do I know you? No name.
Have I wronged you? You reach.
All I ask is conversation and
practice what you preach.

Divisions bleed existence
Is this what you seek?
Life drained from society
Hatred on a constant leak.

You matter. I matter.
We fight while they fear.
Constant anger and confusions
As nighttime draws near.

Words unheard.
Do you hear me?
Protest and hashtags.
Do you see?

Where to start, to begin?
Look inside.
Begin within.

#BeginWithin
#BeTheChange

By: Tracy Solomon

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

Is America Being Micro-Managed

Are there too many ideas and not enough action in Washington D.C.? Do you ever feel as though you wake up in the morning totally frustrated because each day’s events bring more tragedy, a higher deficit and uncertainty to our nation? Does it seem the leaders of our country are looking to the media for polls and support numbers? Does it appear there are too many things going on at one time and nothing getting actually done? If you feel like this, you are not alone.

In a world of social media rising, blogs and more people being able to openly share their opinions effortlessly throughout their day from work, home, school and wherever they may be, people are venting and they are venting a lot!

On Twitter, people can get their opinion out in (140 characters or less) and be heard to millions of other users. You can instantly get positive or negative feedback from a large number of other ‘Tweeters’ in seconds. If you don’t have your privacy settings set to private, your tweets are there for everyone to see and, as of recently, they are being archived in the National Library of Congress.  Things can get very heated up on Twitter but also opinions can be shared in these short 140 character or less exchanges and people can see the similarities and differences between each other in a new light. Everyone from the halls of congress, senators, court justices, state leaders, CEOs, actors, business people, college students, parents, teens and people from nearly (sadly not all) countries are on Twitter. Imagine the influence this is having on our world, the influence on decisions being made; all kinds of decisions by all kinds of people.

If you read an earlier blog of mine, “Privacy Matters”, you will remember the part about Facebook’s influence on our lives. Facebook has boomed each year following its arrival. People ask if it will ever go away or lose its popularity. My opinion is IF it does, it will be quite some time from now. Facebook has brought something around that many people have craved. It is a way of getting back in touch with people and meeting new people without actually having to be face to face. It is a way for families to stay in touch, share pictures and chat even though they can’t actually travel and be together. It allows people to have a sense of “togetherness” even though they aren’t physically together. This is nice but it is missing an important factor in a relationship which is a real face to face conversation, a real handwritten letter, a real phone conversation. In some instances and some of these online relationships, there is a sense of “knowing” someone in a way that is really not there. Today’s idea of knowing someone is so much different. Of course it all depends on the type of relationship you are forming. In my eyes, without meeting someone, it is more of a “Pen Pal” type of relationship than anything else.

I say that to say this. So much of what many people base a decision on is what their peer group feels or what they hear on TV or read. I have talked about this in previous blogs.

Change Happens” 

Will History Repeat Itself?” 

Who is Running Our Country?”

There are so many blogs in our world today it is basically putting newspapers out of business. Most newspapers are using bloggers as their journalist now. Not saying there aren’t journalist still doing the writing but there isn’t so many in “hard print” as there used to be. A lot of newspapers have gone digital and being read online. I love the AC360 blogs  and Jack Gray is one of my all time favorites! The great thing about newspapers and magazines that have turned over to digital media is they are more updated and they can change on a dime if the news changes, which it does (ALL DAY).

With 24 hour news on TV and 24 hours of updated blogs and news online then everyone can be getting around the clock updates and opinions all day long. That includes our local government, state government and national government. Trust me, they are keeping up with the news sources, Twitter and blogs just like anyone else.

So, I asked is our government being micro-managed? What I mean by that is are we too involved in the many different things that come across our messages, facebook, twitter, blogs and news all day? Then we share our opinions which can be positive or negative with a great number of people and then they share their opinions and that trend goes on and on. It can become viral if it catches on. Is that a bad thing? Well, not necessarily. But, it can be if we really don’t know what we are talking about.

I can admit that I really didn’t know a lot about the oil spill when it first happened. I felt I needed to know more facts. I wasn’t going to point fingers at anyone. I still feel the investigation needs to be carried out. I don’t appreciate anyone that says, “It isn’t our fault” or tries to back out of responsibility or someone who drags their feet doing something to find a solution. But, I can also understand the problem is much worse than anyone could have ever planned or imagined. It would be like trying to stop a Category 5 hurricane from happening, then blaming someone for the Category 5 Hurricane hitting a certain location.

My opinion at this point seems to be (and I may stand corrected) that it may appear there was a warning there was a problem back in March? That has to be shown to be a fact and no matter what, it is BPs well and there is a lot of damage coming from it. Everybody that can be helping to stop the oil and contain the problem should be. If there is a chance at saving wildlife and habitat it should be happening and I understand many things are much easier said than done. That is why things should always be secured so these disasters can be prevented at all cost.

Here is my thinking on the Israeli and Gaza situation and I wrote about this in an earlier blog as well, “Will History Repeat Itself?” as well as “Are You the “Right” Color?” Again, this is something that started out with so many people having an opinion as soon as the news came in and Twitter especially lit up and a lot of people get angry that anyone else has an opinion that differs from theirs. But, it comes down to something very simple and history has shown us this over and over. As long as anyone or any group of people think they are better than anyone or any other group of people are less than them or deserve less than them, this will continue. This isn’t right. It doesn’t matter who is the one throwing the first stone, shooting the first shot, jumping onto whoever’s ship. It is wrong. This boat may have been carrying humanitarian aid or it may have had some weapons on it. It may have had 100% good intentions. Israel may have had a perfectly good reason to board the ship and things got out of hand. This may have been all because of bad communication. The point is it has gotten to this because of the same reason. Groups of people thinking they deserve better than the other. You may say one group or the other but the fact is, everyone has a different opinion. Nobody should have to worry for their life because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin. This is just wrong. This is not my opinion. This is human rights.

So why does it seem to take so long for our government, world government and the UN to come out and make a statement? It is almost as though they are looking to public opinion. It is as though they want to see what the world is feeling. Or, is it that our opinions have become so quick and so abrupt these days due to our ability to share them and get instant feedback? Do we expect instant feedback from our leaders? Do we expect the same direct, in-your-face kind of answers? Are we micro-managing our government? Do they need our micro-managing?