Archive for the ‘intentional living’ Tag

Authority Properly Understood   Leave a comment

If you are not a Christian, you are welcome to read this, but understand that I am not talking to you. My remarks are addressed to Christians only.

God, through the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, tells us that Christians have authority within the church. We are to judge ourselves and each other and leave the world to its own devices. The apostles set an example of humility in the world. They didn’t fight back. They preached the gospel and ministered without regard for their own safety and they took the consequences of that. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul wished that the Corinthian believers would follow that example, though his tone suggests that he doubts they will.

He then told the Corinthian believers, in chapter 6, that the church is to judge itself. Christians must call each other to task and adjudicate legal disputes within the church, not outside of the church. Time and time again, Paul pointed to God as the authority in the church. In this, he echoed Jesus Who called for His disciples to pattern themselves after Himself.

Ultimately, God is the sole authority over the Christian. You stand before Him with no one around you. Sometimes, however, God places others in worldly authority over us and He does this either for our discipline or for our own good.

Read the Pastoral letters — Timothy 1 and 2 and Titus and you find that God has placed authorities in the church. We are supposed to submit to one another in the church and in our marriages and family because God speaks through other Christians. We are to listen to our pastors with respect and submit to their guidance.

This does not mean we get the option to deny our own responsibility. A pastor is a human who has been called of God to a certain task in the church, but he is still a human being and human beings may be mistaken in their behavior and attitudes. We sin when we follow the guidance of a sinful man (or woman) simply because they are in a position of authority within the church. If they are outside of the will of God, we must oppose them because we are under God’s authority first and foremost.

Similarly, Romans 13 indicates that human governments can be in authority over us, but again, we are responsible to God for our own behavior and attitudes. When government authorities act outside of God’s will, we must oppose them.

However, in both of these cases, we must be careful to obey God. Resistance of evil is never an excuse for sin.

What Does Romans 13 Mean?   2 comments

What do you think Paul of Tarsus meant when he wrote:

Let every person be subject to the governing authoritiesFor there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of Godand those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your goodBut if you do wrongbe in fearfor it does not bear the sword in vainIt is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjectionnot only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxesfor the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governingPay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are duerevenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:1-7)

https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Romans+13:5

What do you think this Bible passage means?

What is “Good” Water?   2 comments

I have lived in Alaska pretty much all of my life. I was born and raised here. I’ve traveled, but this has always been home base. My definition of “good” water is somewhat loose.

You can’t tell if water is drinkable by looking at it. The water from my well — which we currently use only for watering vegetables — has a vague cloudy quality and tastes like rusty nails. Would you drink that? I wouldn’t so long as I had city water available, but I would if that source failed. I’ve had it tested and know it’s safe to drink. Gag-worthy, but safe.

Water from the Chena River is pretty clear and tastes pretty good. Stop! Don’t do it! Beavers live along the banks of the Chena and, well, ghiardia is not something you want to contract.

Water from the Tanana River is a somewhat translucent brown and you can taste the rock flour (it’s a glacial river). You wouldn’t want to drink that, right? Hmm, you probably could drink it untreated because the Tanana River is a big enough river that beavers don’t try to dam it, but ….

On my cabin site somewhere north-east of Fairbanks, there is a clear water stream at the bottom of the lot and a oozing rivulet that runs from the top to that stream. Which is more safe to drink from? Probably the rivulet because it is well filtered through tree roots. It’s also dirty and awful tasting, but that’s beside the point. The happy little stream that sparkles along the bottom of my land is suspect because — well, beavers could have dammed it upstream and we have a neighbor, also upstream, who has an outhouse. He seems like a smart guy, but ….

Do you know where your emergency water supply has been?

Surrounded by Water … Not a Drop to Drink   1 comment

Last night, my husband and I were watching television news about a cholera epidemic in Haiti following the earthquake a few years back. It reminded me that once I have my heating needs taken care of, my next survival needs is water.

No, food comes later. Water is much more essential. You can live weeks without food, but only days without water.

A family of four requires about four gallons of water a day for proper hydration and that doesn’t include washing needs. That’s just for drinking. Forget about flushing toilets, washing clothes, dishes or your body. That gallon is what your body needs. And, if you have pets, they need water too.

Some people might think they’re surrounded by water, but in an emergency, that tap in your kitchen might not work. Most municipal water systems are powered by electricity. If you’re not below the reservoir, when the pumps go down, no water is coming out of your taps.

I live on city water line, but I also have a defunct well under my house. We had the water tested a few years ago and it’s drinkable. It’s not exactly tasty water (it smells and tastes like rusty nails), but we use it for our vegetable garden now. The well pump is electric, so that won’t work in the event of a loss of power, but our list of items to buy before the apocalypse includes a hand-pump. In a pinch, we could use our existing barrel pump and filter the water for diesel contaminants. A few parts per million of benzene is preferable to dying of thirst. A steady diet of benzene will give you leukemia in 20 years — maybe — but thirst will kill you in about three days.

We live only a few blocks from the Chena River, but you notice that is not my first choice for water. Why? Well, as in Haiti, open rivers collect contaminants like cholera and, more importantly in Alaska, ghiardia (beaver fever). I’ll let you figure out where it comes from. Trust me, you don’t want to ingest ghiardia, especially if there’s no supply of antibiotics readily available. My next post will be on water treatment methods, but this post is about considering the sources available.

In the winter, the Chena River freezes to the point where little if any water is running, so that’s another reason not to rely on it as a water source. And, snow … ah, snow — fluffy, white, dry as goose down. Yeah, interior Alaska snow has so little moisture that a 5-gallon bucket packed tight will only yield a cup or two of water, and that water, if it comes from snow collected outside the typical Alaska suburban home, will be dirty from diesel sulfates, wood smoke, dogs, foot traffic, car exhaust … you get the point.

But do you get the point that I live on the edge of a comparatively pristine wilderness and I’m concerned about getting adequate potable water. Most folks reading this live in a much more population-dense area. Taking water from the bayou across from your apartment in Houston is going to make you sick.

What do you plan to do about water in the event of an emergency?

Losing Control   Leave a comment

I said it was coming faster than we might realize

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013304150146

The Michigan governor wants his state to approve autonomously driven automobiles. Apparently, he drank the koolaide in California and thinks this is a great idea.

I said, the move to remove more control from the hands of individuals was on. Guns, cars, 401Ks, children ….

And, note that Rick Snyder is a conservative Republican. I didn’t use quotes because I think he is a conservative. However, conservatives can be misguided on singular issues and then find themselves in a quagmire they never saw coming.

Dropping a Penny   1 comment

Normally I pre-write a post so I have time to think about it, but I was scattered this morning, so am not prepared. Besides, I feel like saying what’s on my mind today.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of complaints by waiters concerning customers and I have to say — shut up! I know, that’s rude and it’s not like me, but really … are you idiots?

I’m coming at this from the most respectful of places. My dad was a professional chef and my mom was a professional waitress. I calculate she waited tables for the better part of 40 years back in the days when being a waitress was something you did for a living, not just while you wait for a better job. I waited tables for a while in college, myself. I know it’s a tough job. I also know that there are better ways of handling it.

From my mother (with some influence from Dad, I’m sure) —

No, the customer is not always right, but you get better tips if he thinks he is. The customer is, after all, the reason you get paid at all. If the customer didn’t come to eat in the restaurant, the restaurant would close and you’d be panhandling on the streets. The waiter doesn’t control the quality of the food, but he/she does control the quality of the service. If you’re rude, you don’t deserve a tip.

That’s right! I said that! If you’re rude, you do not deserve a tip. If you give half-hearted service, you do not deserve a full tip.  It is not the customer’s responsibility to pay your taxes. It is your responsibility. It is your income after all. If you want more than the standard 10% tip, then give service that is over and above the standard level of service.

I’m not talking lap dances, or anything like that. I’m talking good service. My mom used to call her tips — “My applause”.  She considered her shift to be a performance and the collected tips at the end of the night to be a performance evaluation. If she got 8% or more, she figured she’d done well that night. If she got less than 8%, she asked herself “What did I do WRONG tonight?” She didn’t complain about the customer. She examined herself and took responsibility for HER performance. Mom rarely had a night that was less than 8%. She had a loyal following of customers who would follow her from cafe to cafe all over town. She had bosses who lived in fear that she would quit and paid her accordingly. When she decided to “retire” to open her own daycare center, the customers threw her a party at their own expense.

Following her advice, during my months as a waitress, I made more in tips than I ever did from my paycheck. I also had quite a few customers leave compliments with the hostess on their way out. I’ve carried that work ethic into my real jobs for the last 30 years and it has served me well.

So, shut up! Stop complaining and give the customer some good service and see if — maybe — you’ll learn something.

Our Raging World   6 comments

The United States has become an angry society. Lots of people would like to blame the gun culture, video games and movies for our growing culture of violence, but I think we need to examine ourselves. Do you drive? Are you a respectful driver who stays in your lane, maintains a moderate speed and smiles at the toll booth girl? Or are you weaving in and out of traffic, accelerating rapidly, slamming on your brakes and gesturing menacingly at your fellow drivers?

Before I wrote a word, I went out and researched this topic. The issue of aggressive driving has been addressed in plenty of articles, but it was the comments to those articles that fascinated me. “Well, for every aggressive driver out there there’s 3 or 4 bad drivers that force the rest of us to deal with them. Get the bad drivers off the road and aggression would end.”  I suspect this commenter is in the second group of drivers and the “bad” drivers are in the first. His frustration with their polite driving is a symptom of the rage that you can see all throughout society.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but the 21st century has mostly been a decade of venting our spleens and now our young men are shooting strangers in public venues. What is wrong with us? Is it really just that we have guns in our homes? Maybe we need to take the cars away too because road rage kills far more people than guns do. According to the FBI’s latest statistics, so do fists and feet. We can’t do without those, so maybe we need to look elsewhere – away from the tools of rage to the source of our rage itself.

Politically, we’re a deeply divided nation struggling among ourselves over the fundamental nature of our governmental system. Economically, nothing makes you angrier than not being able to find a job so you can feed your family or feeling trapped in a job you hate because of limited choices in the job market. Socially, we’re also grown extremely divisive. For every us there is a them and there is an increasing desire among some groups to control “them”. As a society, we feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, in debt, trapped, failing, undervalued, invisible and silent, tyrannized by greater powers, and unable to control the environment around us. If the United States were an individual, we’d be at risk for domestic violence. And, what a surprise – we collectively show all the symptoms!

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being irritated over some of life’s difficulties. Your husband leaves the toilet seat up and you fall in. Do you feel valuable to him? Does your wife leave the grounds in the coffee maker for you to deal with? Do you feel validated? Those are normal life reactions. The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Slam the seat down, call your husband a jerk and leave the coffee grounds in the maker for him to deal with. Biologically, our bodies don’t know the difference between irritation and response to a threat. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. When life’s stressors are coming at you at a million miles an hour whenever you’re awake, you’re in a constant state of adaptive response to threat. Our modern society, with our instant access to news on a 24-hour cycle and all the stressors of jobs, government, regulation, debt, smart phones, and just the sheer number of activities we feel obligated to participate in … no wonder we’re angry to the point of rage. We have left the realm of normality as a society and we wish we could slap someone to set everything right.

We, rightly, think that walking into a mall or movie theater with a collection of guns and randomly shooting at people is not a normal reaction to life stressors. If only we were still normal! Our society is collectively stressed out and constantly enraged. Our driving behavior and Internet communications show that far too many of us think it’s acceptable to inflict emotional harm on others when they’re stressing us out. Add to that a little schizophrenia, thousands of images of simulated murder, an absent father, a society that does not value those who can’t handle stress and is constantly presenting new threats to deal with and I don’t wonder that an occasional 20-something man starts shooting at strangers in a gun-free zone.

Thirty years ago, there was a popular psychological movement that said “holding in anger is unhealthy. You should let it all hang out. Yell at your spouse, flip off the bad drivers, and tell subculture groups you don’t like that they’re evil.” Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth that drives an increase in anger in general and pushes some people to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation.

So what’s the answer? We don’t need more laws to change our collective behavior. Taking control away from people who are already feeling out-of-control escalates the behavior. A top-down approach will breed rebellion. Society is made up of individuals, so individuals working toward a common goal can affect society for the better. We need individual self-examination and individual self-control. Shut off the smart phone and the TV. Spend some time contemplating your navel or read a book. Take a deep breath. Relax. Mind your mouth (or your typing fingers). Don’t say it. Don’t use the gesture you want to use. Control yourself. Adopt reason. Few things in life are the end of the world and getting angry over trivial issues leaves you with no energy to address big ones.

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. The economy stinks and our government is making it worse. Some of us are drowning in debt and the rapidly inflating cost of living. Anger over that is not misplaced, and it may provide the energy for change in our society, but I submit that there are no quick fixes. The cultural belief that every problem has a solution and that the problem is “other people who just won’t get on board” adds to our frustration. A society built on individual rights and responsibilities may not provide immediate solutions. It doesn’t mean you subjugate the half of society that values personal liberty in order to force your “solution” on society. Tyranny rarely provides ownership and maybe our solutions will ultimately be found in how we handle and face problems rather than solving the problem itself.

Maybe if we’d all slow down, listen to one another, consider that the “other guy” may have a sliver of sense among a wagon load of stupidity, stop jumping to conclusions over sound bites, and recognize that “other people” doing things differently from me or you is not necessarily a societal apocalypse – maybe we’ll find solutions just in the process of letting some of our anger and frustration go.

We are the problem and we must be the solution.

Where are the Dads?   2 comments

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a woman. When women take men to task for being less-than-adequate parents, I’m usually the first to point out that they need to take their own inventory before they smear the male gender, but in dealing with the causation of our culture of violence, I found myself circling this issue a few too many times. To avoid overstepping my personal boundaries, let me introduce my husband as guest co-blogger and/or interviewee.  He is not responsible for everything written here, but he was a large contributor.

“It’s bad enough that you weren’t prepared to be a father … you might have considered using contraception to prevent that, Dad. But failing to be there for your kids and then not holding yourself accountable for whom they become is far worse.”

For a young boy, the most important human relationship is between himself and his father. The offspring looks up to his progenitor, learns from his example and hangs on his every word. Many young boys see their fathers as heroes wholly blameless and without flaw. To a young male, Dad is who he aspires to be.

Though no man is perfect, a father who sets a terrible example makes it so much harder for his young son to be a good man. The basic notions of what it takes to be a man are imprinted on the child from his experiences with his father. My father was (and remains) a functional alcoholic, womanizer and workaholic, and his lack of character led to estrangement from my mother (another topic altogether that I’ll leave in Lela’s capable hands) and lack of full attachment with me. He chose himself over his son, medicating himself with booze, wealth, wives, mistresses and possessions. He is an extremely charming and callow man who has both adoring fans and bitter enemies, two ex-wives and one who wishes she were a widow, four children (that he knows of) with various opinions of him, and siblings who keep their hands on their wallets when he comes around. It’s not all his fault. He had a poor example for a father too.

Despite experiencing firsthand the damage alcohol causes and a strong Christian faith that teaches me that alcohol is not an answer, whenever I’m faced with a stressful situation, my first instinct is to have a drink. My father impressed on me that men handle stress through alcohol, and that basic instinctual reaction is extremely difficult to overcome. Some fathers beat their sons. Others display a stoic lack of emotion, reducing the father-son relationship to a never-ending chase for approval on the part of the son. Patterns of behavior are learned and often repeated; however poorly the example is set, it defines the son’s life.

My father’s example to me was piss-poor, but I still needed him in my life. My adolescence was a troubled time, as adolescence often is. Not knowing my father well left me with huge holes in coming to know myself. I could give tons of examples where he neglected me – from living 1500 miles apart, to showing up once a year to drop me off at camp, to never once coming to see me play sports or act in a play, to scoffing at my skateboarding. I would have traded camp and the lavish gifts for a weekend of undivided attention from my sober father. He could have taught me to shave. Yeah, probably the most pivotal point of transforming from boy to man, I was alone because my father had neglected his duty to his son. I think of that now as my son deals with acne and searching for whiskers on his smooth young skin.

With single-parent families becoming more common, the traditional family unit is harder to find. Courts generally keep children with the mother in custody cases, but it remains imperative that the father strives to maintain access to his children, however limited. Yes, there are extreme situations where no contact is better, but in my opinion having a relationship with both parents is crucial. Even if one parent is a poor example, it is better for the child to have discovered this for themselves, as unanswered questions and biased perceptions impair the youngster’s development through adolescence and self-discovery. Lela’s older half-brother knew his father who sounds like he would have liked hanging out with my dad; in the end, though his father was a poor example, he chose to buck the trend knowing he was swimming against the flow. I don’t have that and it still hurts.

The onus is on parents to maintain these relationships in safe and mutually acceptable venues. When parents use children as weapons in custody battles, or allow their own opinions of each other to cloud their parental judgment, it is the child who suffers the most. Parents need to remember that just because somebody is a bad partner, it does not make him or her a bad parent.

A child needs to know who his parents are first-hand. A boy needs to know who his father is, unfiltered by those who either love him or hate him.

There are always going to be situations where the parents are absent through no fault of their own; they may be sent to war or pass away from an illness or tragic accident. Sometimes, absence is unavoidable. Addiction, laziness, or personal disputes between parents aren’t acceptable excuses. They will damage the children in ways adults cannot foresee.

Becoming a parent isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It is a lifelong commitment, and as a parent, your duty is to do your very best by your child. Your own wants and desires are secondary to the development and nurturing of your offspring. If, for instance, you have an addiction, you need to seek the help that is available — not tomorrow, not after “one last binge”—now. If you are in dispute with your ex-partner, resolve it. If you are scared your child will reject you, risk it.

Don’t be an absentee father. However long it has been, whatever mistakes you have made, pick up the phone and make the call. You’re a parent—and you owe that to your child.

In seeking to identify the problems that exist within our society that might cause young men to be so angry that they want to kill strangers, the absence of fathers in so many homes stood out to me. Dads, where are you?

 

It’s All About Me   Leave a comment

Continuing my inventory of the trends within American society that have caused and will continue to cause the impersonal, undirected rage that leads to mass shootings, I’d like to point my finger in your face … recognizing that there are three more pointing back at me. We are the problem and we will be the solution … if we’re brave enough.

In mental health circles, where I spent the last 15 years as an administrator, narcisstic personality disorder can be boiled down to a simple phrase – it’s all about me and anything that is about you, either doesn’t matter or needs to be beaten to death. I can’t think of a better term than “narcissistic” to describe a father who abandons his mentally ill child, even if he supplies a six figure income to that child’s mother. What is there to say for a mother who prioritizes vacationing over the care and supervision of her unstable son? American culture preaches a crass consumerism that encourages citizens to place the flimsiest of their whims over the needs of others. Murder – for thrill, glory, or whatever Lanza’s unknown motive – is the ultimate manifestation of narcissism. It is the literal destruction of another’s life in the hopes of enhancing one’s own.

As a country, we praise the virtue of the selfless heroics of the Sandy Hook teachers who tried to save the lives of their students with their unarmed bodies, but we ignore as our president orders innocent women and children killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we engage in media approved mourning for Sandy Hook we ignore the decades of slaughter in our inner cities. We prioritize our own interests over those of foreigners and the poor in our own country, which is narcissism.

We can use the Newtown massacre as an opportunity to intellectually, morally and spiritually grow into citizens that cultivate communities of strength, love and interdependence that treat others with respect and care or we can continue to float along as islands, ignorant to the mentally ill in our own families and oblivious to the struggles of people in houses next door to us. We can fearlessly confront the issues that drive violence in our country by addressing the underlying issues as they exist right in our own homes and communities.

But when we lock up all the legal guns so that the average citizen has no means to protect himself, what will we blame when madmen like Adam Lanza use suicide vests, knives, cars driven into crowds, or illegally manufactured guns to take out their victims? These sorts of spree killings happen in countries where personal ownership of guns is highly restricted, evidencing something deeper than just “a culture of guns” is at work in modern man.

Are we so stuck on ourselves that we really can’t see that “the other guy” is no more at fault than we are and that, ultimately, the man or woman in the mirror is the only person we can affect for the better? This country was founded on individual liberty and responsibility and for most of our history, that was the ideal that we followed. What makes any of us think that we are so smart that we can force the man next to us to comply to our will and that will somehow make the world a better place.

That’s narcissism and from our president down to people on the street corner, we are a nation evidencing all the symptoms.

Cultural Violence   Leave a comment

I’ve been a little caustic in my taking of the nation’s inventory. I hope not to disappoint in this posting.

America has been a violent culture for most of our history, but it’s usually been one-on-one violence of a personal nature. Someone got angry at someone over something trivial or important and violence seemed like the answer at the time. As a rule, violence did not take the form of a disturbed young man marching into a school, mall or movie theater to kill large numbers of people he didn’t know. That’s changed. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Nickel Mines, Aurora … there’s a long list of evidence that something has changed.

Oddly, statistics show that American society has, by and large, become less violent in other areas. For example, the gun-related homicide rate has dropped precipitously at the same time that gun ownership and concealed carry have increased phenomenally. And America is not alone in mass shootings (Norway and Cumbria England are just recent examples). If guns in the home are the problem, Alaska and Switzerland should have a mass shooting almost daily. We don’t. Look somewhere else.

To look for simplistic solutions is ridiculous. To see Sandy Hook as unique to its circumstances, apart from all the others, is to avoid the uncomfortable topic that this madness is fed and enabled not by the “gun culture” (who are overwhelmingly law-abiding people who don’t frequently shoot one another), but by American culture.

This is the American culture that has cheapened human life, snuffing it out when it is helpless and inconvenient and (in three states) old, infirm and burdensome. Nihilism permeates our popular entertainment; it’s everywhere in movies, television and song lyrics.

Evil is glamorized. Dexter is an extremely popular television series about a serial killer cleaning up crime. Thrill-kill video games feature barbaric violence and we think nothing of slipping them under the Christmas tree. Ever listen to the music thumping in your middle-schooler’s earbuds? Do we seriously believe that this stuff has little influence on attitudes and behaviors? Maybe in earlier generations it wouldn’t have, but in a generation of children largely raised by electronic media, how could it not? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, the average American 18-year-old has seen 200,000 acts of violence, including 16,000 murders on television (not including video games).

Oddly, while we resist libertarianism politically, we Americans have trended that direction in matters of culture. Maybe we don’t consume violent entertainment ourselves, but if our neighbors do, that’s their business. We consider it intolerant to call out someone for allowing a group of kids to watch movies with R-rated violence at a sleepover. Maybe we’d keep our kid home from it, but we’d never say it was wrong for another family to show it. Judging someone else’s “choices” is apparently the worst sin one American can commit against another.

Do we think that if we hunker down, the culture we’ve created will leave us alone? These mass shootings suggest it won’t. It’s going to follow us into the movie theater, the church and the mall. It has already.

The fake debate over gun control avoids the real debate about the lurid culture that stokes the insanity of these shootings. We can’t hire enough guards to protect our kids, our movie theaters, our churches, and our malls from the effects of a culture that cheapens life and expects it not to affect our children.

Because I am a civil libertarian conservative constitutionalist, I don’t advocate for laws to address our cultural problems. I will submit that Congress cannot fix what’s wrong with us. Legislating morality doesn’t often work. See the history of Prohibition and the War on Drugs before you argue otherwise. The answer is not making entertainment I find objectionable illegal. For one thing, today I am disgusted with movies that glorify violence, but tomorrow I may be in the mood for a good shot-em-up. I don’t want someone in DC limiting my choices. I don’t think restricting liberty is the answer.

So what is?

I think we are the answer to the problems we have caused. We, individually, need to examine ourselves in a searching and moral inventory to discover were we individually have screwed up and need to make changes. Each of us in our own homes needs to that our kids don’t need to fill their impressionable heads with unfiltered and unexamined simulated violence. Each of us needs to have uncomfortable conversations with our kids about their attitudes toward human life and violence because, trust me, they’ve already seen plenty of simulated murder in entertainment and “not my kid” is no longer an acceptable default position to take. I know my 14-year-old son’s attitude toward human life because we’ve talked, sometimes after watching violent movies together just so we could have the conversation. But if you’re letting X-Box raise your kid so you don’t have to, you don’t know what they might be thinking and you should.

Once we’ve addressed ourselves and our families, we each need to start having uncomfortable conversations with our extended families and friends about their attitudes toward violence and parenting, not to force them through governmental tyranny to change their behavior, but to encourage them to examine their lives and make changes appropriate to them. From there, we may also need to converse in our communities about our collective attitudes toward abortion and euthanasia that makes life seem cheap and disposable rather than precious and worthy of protection.

This isn’t a new idea. There was once a time, not so far in the past, when individuals, families and small groups (churches, neighborhoods, towns) lived lives of self-control and interconnectedness where violence was far less common than it is today. We need to honestly ask ourselves why kids in past generations could frequently bring guns to school to shoot rabbits on the way home and never feel compelled to turn those guns on their classmates. The past may be the only dead thing that smells sweet, but it’s also the only proven pattern for success.

What have we thrown out in our rush toward modernity that might have prevented these tragedies?

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