Thursday, March 15, 2018

And the children shall lead

I was very proud of this nation's school children yesterday. Nearly one million of them took part in March for our Lives, school-sanctioned peaceful protests, voicing their First Amendment rights in regards to gun violence.

At 10 .a.m., students nationwide emptied out their classrooms to gather in remembrance of the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a month earlier.

In the days immediately after the shooting, students stood up to voice their dismay and displeasure that Congress has done absolutely nothing to stem the gun violence gripping our nation. Shooting after shooting, and nothing more than "you have our thoughts and prayers." 

So, yesterday as promised, the students (teachers too) mobilized to assemble voicing their anger and their fears.

Naysayers will say students just wanted to skip class, and I'm sure some did, but not most. Some will say they felt bullied into doing joining the protests... again, some may have, but not most. Some will say the political "left" are taking advantage of this situation. Maybe, maybe not, but I give our youth more credit than the cynics.

Some will simply say kids just do not understand how things work. I offer just the opposite. I think, for too long, we adults have failed our kids, and now out of utter frustration--and anger--are pointing it out to us.

What amazed me most is that these young people involved themselves in a great teaching moment, a lesson in  American civics. Many of these young men and women are (or will be) old enough to exercise their right to vote this year--and many more will be in the next few years. 

Yesterday at their March for our Lives rallies, our youth made their message quite clear by saying "enough is enough."

Think. Nearly one million voices. I wonder if our elected leaders are listening.

If they're not, they had better start. And soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A spirit soars

Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking! 

"Remember to look up at the stars, 
not down at your feet." --Stephen Hawking

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Australia hates freedom! The Japanese and the Brits too!

A Facebook friend of mine told me tonight our friends in Australia are not as freedom loving as are we Americans. 

All I can say is... *facepalm*

He said the same of Britain and Japan as well. None of them understand freedom like we do.
One of the reasons he offered? Because Australia was once a penal colony. LoL! Of all the silly-ass notions!

I absolutely despise the "we're number one!" mentality! Hate it! Nationalistic jingoism, at its worst, is nearly as ugly as fascism. Some would argue they are one in the same, and I would be hard-pressed to debate that suggestion.

Right-wingers love to say "facts are facts," so here are some inconvenient little nuggets right-wing conservatives conveniently leave out when they beat their chests as they wail "we're number one!"

Sure, we're number one in a lot of things of which we should hang our heads in shame... like the largest prison population in the world, for example; the most gun deaths; the most mass murders stemming from assault-style weapons; one of the most expensive health care systems; a military budget larger than the rest of the world combined.

So, yeah, we're number one... just not in categories which we can pridefully claim as a leader of the free world. I love our country as much as anyone, but calling out deficiencies is not blasphemy.  

The old "America: Love it or leave it" crowd blather on and on (harsh, I know), but anyone willing to sit down and rationally discuss "the issues and the facts" and who are willing to listen to both sides of the argument are the ones who will affect a change of the gun legislation conversation of which our leaders lack the courage to do themselves.

Freedom loving? Yes, the Australians are a freedom loving people, the Japanese and British people too, They all live relatively free from the fear of the gun violence plaguing this nation; they are a freedom loving people free of the fear of a madman entering their schools or malls or churches. And the Aussies, the Brits, and the Japanese are a freedom loving people who have rejected the madness we seem unable--or unwilling--to break.

If only our nation's leaders cared about our people as much as many other governments do theirs.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Our sick gun addiction

So, in 2012 when 20 first grade children and six teachers were cut down, we as a nation but did nothing to stem gun violence and schools. We cried.

One child, a young girl from one of the two classrooms survived. When reunited with her parents, she told her mother, "Mommy, I'm okay, but all my friends are dead."

No parent should ever have to hear those words and sure as hell, no young child should ever have to say it. I want, but not really, to visit that little girl today. Survivor's guilt, I read, is a horrible thing.

Politicians have offered prayers and condolences. After we buried the children and teachers, did we change any gun laws? Even after the parents of the children of Sandy Hook went to Congress to beg, plead, implore that they pass laws to make certain another tragedy such as theirs never occur again, and Congress did nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

All those poor parents got was "I'm sorry for your loss" as they were handed their hats as they were walked out the door with the hopes that everyone would forget. But really, how could we forget. There have been 239 school shootings since Sandy Hook. 239 "you have our prayers and thoughts."

Sandy Hook Elementary School has since been razed to the ground. And why not, who could blame them? The pain was just too much for that community to bear.

Fast forward to now, five and a half years later to M
arjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. On the afternoon of February 14, a day that should have been remembered as Valentine's Day, a shooter walked calmly into the high school, pulled a fire alarm lever and waited for everyone to evacuate. He then killed 17 teens and three adults as they left their classrooms. 

Immediately, our leaders went into their NRA-funded tape recorded, script by rote. Again.

Again, the tears. Again the "our thoughts and prayers" ad nauseam vomited from our politicians' mouths. Again, platitude after platitude. And again, the sound from NRA headquarters? *Crickets*

But... this time something different has occurred.

Today, a groundswell is sweeping our nation. What is different about today vs. the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012? My friends and I were talking about this very thing last night and we agreed on this: the victims.

This time the victims are young adults. Young adults with a voice. Strong voices, well-spoken, forceful angry voices. The voices of six-year olds, it seems was not enough to capture this nation's conscience, but young adults have changed the playing field.

The powerful thing, in this time of tragedy, these voices are echoing from school to school, state to state.
The wonderful thing is these are young people who are taking a stand and doing so with candor, intelligence and are articulate beyond belief. Plans are afoot for a national walkout day to protest our government being held hostage by the NRA. 

AND the wonderful thing is these teens are promising to vote, many of whom will be able to vote for the first time this year during the midterm elections. If I were a Republican, I would be worried.

We have oft times questioned our teens, calling many of them precious and acting out of entitlement, but this time our teens have taken the stage with candor, aplomb, and purpose. They have been articulate and fearless. Their teachers and friends should be proud.

Has it escaped anyone's notice that almost none of this shit was occurring when the Brady Bill was the law of the land? When the GOP let this piece of legislation lapse in 2004 (When Dubya was President), statistics clearly show a huge run to the gun stores to purchase any of 19 high powered guns that had been banned for the nine years the bill was in effect.

Mr. Trump this week, when facing the parents and teens of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School listened (however, I have doubt he really listened) and he immediately offered that "we should arm our teachers." Just when most of us are asking for fewer guns and more controls, he wants, instead, to sell more guns. 

What could possibly go wrong here?

Gee, I wonder if the $30 million dollars the NRA donated to his quest for the White House has anything to do with that?

I do not care what you say. There is absolutely no reason a private citizen needs to own a weapon such as an AR-15. I do not care what you say when you say an AR-15 is just like every other available hunters' rifle. AND I do not care what you say when you say "it is my God-given--and second amendment right to own whatever weapon I want." Never mind, that the Constitution also grants us the God-given right to " the pursuit to life, liberty, and happiness." Yeah, I know, God loves guns.

In effect, we are saying the right to a gun trumps (ugh! I hate that word) the right to our children's lives (and everyone else).

Great Britain, Japan, Australia and many other civilized nations have removed and denied their citizens the access to such madness. In this nation, there are more guns than there are citizens. I do not care what you say, but this is a sick, sick addiction. A perversion, says me of the Second Amendment.

Prior to Anton Scalia's Supreme Court, gun laws were a just a tad bit saner and now we find ourselves exactly where we are today.

It saddens me that it all boils down to this: It seems we love our guns more than we love our children.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A door is opening

I find myself in an unusual situation, one I have not faced for 30 years.

Monday when I went to work at noon and before I could even take off my coat I was called into the office. My manager said, "Can we talk for a minute?"

In the space of a few seconds I learned I was being dismissed from my job--or the more correct terminology, my position was eliminated. I had no idea this was coming. Just a --thud--

As it turns out, I was not the only one. Six other fellow employees lost their jobs as well. When asked when this started, I was told it is effective today.

My store manager told me she did not want to have this conversation with me and that this development has absolutely nothing to do with any possible dissatisfaction with my job performance. I actually thought my manager was going to cry when she told me.

It appears this is a corporation-wide move. What happened to the seven of us happened in every single Barnes and Noble across the country.

Thankfully, Barnes and Noble is giving us a severance package based on the duration of our employment at the store. This does buy me some time to be a little choosey for which job I search.

What does this mean for our corporation? Not good, I suspect. Basically, this move eliminated nearly 90 years of job experience between the seven of us--and that was in our store alone. Multiply that corporate-wide and the losses are staggering.

Am I upset? I did not leave the store Monday afternoon with animosity toward the store management. I am not angry. I think it safe to say I was in shock. None of us, not even store management saw this coming.

I would, however, be a liar if I did not say I am sad. And I worry about the future of Barnes and Noble.

I think it no secret among my closest friends that I have been dissatisfied with the work at the store for quite some time now--and this had nothing to do with the store itself, but more to the fact that I have never entirely enjoyed working retail. 

I had been looking elsewhere, but not aggressively. If I saw a position that interested me, I applied for it, and I had been very selective in what positions I was looking at, I mean, why take a job if I would not be happy? Now that my situation has changed I am sure this will work out for the best, but... 

I would have preferred my departure be on my terms. So now it appears I am going to have to step up my game.

Earlier today after running some errands I went to the store, the first time since being let go. I look at this way. I was a loyal custom before I started working at Barnes and Noble in 2009, and I cannot imagine not being one now.

While there I got to see my friends and the managers whom I have come to call my family these past eight years. There were hugs, there were tears and there were some laughs too. 

One of my managers cried after we hugged and she said they are all feeling a bit of survivor's guilt. I already knew that. I had had a couple of conversations with my in-store friends who all said the mood in the store was pretty somber. I understand. I sure don't want them to be too sad. After all, life does go on. 

Anyone who knows me has heard me say this: "this too, shall pass, and I do firmly believe that.

I have always said it is hard to find a job when you have a job and I also believe everything happens for a reason... So I wonder if a door is not opening for me. Let's find out. Here we go!

But I do flippantly have to say (although I am serious), "Thanks, Donald."