And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

September 17, 2004

More Guns?

Filed under: her words,social issues — mark @ 6:17 am

Yesterday I spoke with my husband about gun ownership in this country. Now that the assault weapons ban has been lifted it has become figure for me. It seems that a number of people he works with own guns. This took me aback. I have seen what guns can do to people. Working as a crime scene technician for a few years I saw the aftermath of violence up close. It is so different that what is seen in movies and television. It is not glamorous or pretty. It is sad and ugly.

As my husband was talking I saw an image of people having guns to help them feel safe in this scary and noisy world. I understand the fear. Yesterday I had to talk to my boss. He pointed out that I had missed a meeting. I felt that sinking feeling that I get when I have been caught in a mistake. I always revert to a young child in those circumstances. When I was a young child and was caught in a mistake my father would punish me, usually in a violent way. He spanked or he beat both my brother and myself. So when I get caught in a mistake my first reaction is one of fear and dread. I am afraid I will get punished before I can explain or protect myself. Since the meeting with him I have been thinking about the situation. I see that I am so afraid of mistakes that I have tried to create a world around me that is safe and secure. The truth is I cannot make the world into what I want it to be. Fear is going to happen. I cannot stop others from being themselves, nor do I want to. Being in the world is going to bring up issues. My job is to take care of me no matter what is going on out there. It is hard to be myself in the world when I want to protect me from the fear. It is hard to stay balanced when the fear can happen at any time.

Fear happens no matter what. It has always been thus. We have been trying to feel safe forever by trying to build a fortress of some sort. I know I have tried in recent years to limit my contact with the outside world so I would feel safe. I felt safe in some ways, but not others. I felt cut off and afraid that I would not see the “bad” coming. Then about 4 years ago we elected a new president. I began to see some scary things start to happen. We got attacked and then went to war. My goodness, this is scary. So I am feeling afraid more and more. I know that there is little I can do about the world situation, but I am still very afraid right now. As a result of this I need to be very gentle with myself and not try to protect me from it. I can make myself safe and not let the fear take over, it is hard but I have always been able to take care of me and I will now.

The point is that fear is a natural part of life in this world. It is a constant and always will be. Trying to protect myself from it does not work. I know that if I go out into the world I am at risk for being afraid. I am also free to enjoy the beauty and joy in the world. So in order to be available for the joy I have to be in a place that might bring up some fear. Trying to come up with ways that help me feel safe is good; trying to feel safe by putting others and myself at greater risk is foolish. I know how to use a gun; I have been through training for using one. I also know that that it takes practice, a lot of practice, to use one in a danger situation. Putting a gun in the hands of someone who does not practice constantly is a prescription for disaster. All one has to do is look at what happened to President Regan. Trained professionals, people who practice constantly, when someone tried to shoot him. Watch what happens, everyone gets disoriented and is not sure what to do. These people work at dealing with these situations, they are lost. So how well is someone, who does not practice at all, going to deal with this type of situation? Most law enforcement officials will tell you that having a gun in a danger situation often leads to death, often for the owner of the gun. So perhaps we can look at helping the world feel safe by helping people feel protected and cared for instead of trying to arm ourselves more and more.

February 28, 2004

Janet Jackson’s Shame

Filed under: her words,social issues — mark @ 11:13 am

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl turned out to offer us a controversy. How unusual. This particular controversy revolves around a human breast. The fact that so many people are upset about this is very curious. We are ambivalent about the female breast. The fact that its exposure on national television has brought forth so many angry and sexist comments is facinating. Ms. Jackson may or may not have known this was going to happen, but the fact that it did has brought about some new types of dialogue.

I feel embarassed for Ms. Jackson. If she knew and let it happen then my embarassment is for Ms. Jackson’s need for external validation being so great that she would degrade herself this much. If she did not know then it is about how awful she must feel about this. Either way I feel badly about what happened to her. I hope that she can gain some understanding about herself because of this.

I feel less disposed to feel embarassment for Justin Timberlake. I feel angry at him for the stunt. I know that in recent years the level of civility in this country has decreased significantly. I know that frat boy antics have dominated the culture. I also know that women being objectified as mere sexual playthings has become commonplace. It has reached an all time low and this incident has made that very clear. If you look at the current music videos the women are just there as sexual objects. In all types of advertisments women are just bodies. We have lost any type of view of women as being people. Of course men are treated just as badly. Men are viewed as adolescent miscreants. The current view of men being just macho neanderthals is insulting to men. I know that some men may indeed fit this image, however, it does not fit all men. I also know that Madison Ave. presents very limited views of people for their own purposes. This helps them sell products. Look at how many people wear certain type of clothes. For instance, jeans. This is the result of having people see things from a certain perspective. If they can shape the perspective then they can have us buying what they sell. One of the problems with this is that society then responds to the basest common demoniator. SUV’s are just such a product. They are bad for the environment, they get terrible gas mileage, and they are not that safe, yet we cannot buy enough of them. Madison Ave. spends millions on understanding how to manipulate us. They are doing a great job. But what is the cost to us?

November 16, 2003


Filed under: her words,social issues — mark @ 12:37 pm

Well the subject was brought to the table again. This is one of those sticky, messy and difficult subjects that divide us and keep things stirred up. Recently I saw the photo (op) of George W. Bush and his cronies standing around smiling while they signed the partial birth abortion ban. Several journals have made reference to the fact that the people in the photo are all male. I find it very interesting that there are no women. None of the people who helped this happen have a womb.

In the late 80’s I was on the board of NOW, the National Organization for Women. I joined in order to understand myself as a woman and to see how other women felt. I soon got involved in the stuggle to maintain the Roe Vs Wade decision. I helped escort women into clinics. I often heard people scream at these women and call them terrible names. I also felt the rocks thrown at them and us. I came to see how difficult the decision was to have an abortion in the first place. Because I talked to these women. None of the women I talked to were taking this decision lightly or had come to it without a great deal of anguish and fear. I tried to be supportive of them. I also tried not to judge them or their circumstances. But I often saw the people who were screaming at them as being very afraid. I also tried to have conversations with some of them. Some of the people who identified themselves as pro-life were commited to saving lives. They felt that abortion was murder. I saw that there were a number of them who truly felt that and they were sincere. I tried not to judge them either. But some of them seemed to me to have another agenda. I would not say I absolutely knew what their agenda was, but I knew it was not what they were telling me. I got to debate with some pro-lifers and what they said was that it was a sin and that it should not happen no matter what. I had the hardest time with them. It seemed to me that they had made up their minds and that they were not interested in debate. The group that I came into contact with was Concerned Women of America. What struck me most about them was that they dressed alike, spoke alike, said all of the same things, and that they were all fairly well to do. As a member of NOW one of the things that became apparent was that all of the women and men I met had ideas of their own. It seemed to me that when I was involved in conversation with someone within the organization I found different ideas and opinions. We had a few similarities such as being for choice. Some of the women did not like the idea of abortion and wanted to work for a world in which it was not necessary. Some of the women wanted to help women find alternatives such as adoption. Some of the women felt that it was not up to them to decide what others should do. I admit I was more drawn to the group that was about choice. I wish no one ever had to make such a terrible decision and I do not know if I could do it. But I believe that I need to help people in trouble not judge them and tell them they are wrong. So I wish abortion was never necessary, but I cannot make decisions for others.