Quietly Congregating

I’m not the kind of person who likes to congregate. Crowds are not my thing. If I know there will be a crowd where I’m going, I’ll wait until it is less busy.

I am not comfortable around strangers. I don’t know what to talk to them about. I don’t like it when people are loud. I don’t like it when one person dominates the conversation or when too many people talk at once. Too many people = too much stimulation.

You can’t avoid congregating when you are a member of a congregation, a group of people who gather to worship God. My church is too big for me to feel completely comfortable. So when I go to church, I stake out my space at the edge of the room where I can sit quietly and watch from a distance.

via Daily WordPress Prompt: Congregate

Assaying the Gun Culture

via Daily Prompt: Assay

The word assay is not part of my everyday vocabulary; it is usually used in fields related to chemistry like the pharmaceutical or metallurgy industries. To assay something is to analyze its components. On Vocabulary.com, I learned that “when you assay a situation, you look at all the elements that created the problem in order to come up with a solution.” With that definition and the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in mind, I can think of a huge situation in need of assaying: America’s gun culture.

Gun violence is a hot button issue that has long divided this country. On one side are those who believe that the second amendment guarantees the right of all citizens to own any kind of weapon because the amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.

However, the second amendment refers to a “well-regulated militia.” Those three words are very important to those of us on the other side of the issue. For the safety and security of all citizens, we believe that there should be sensible restrictions on the ownership of weapons.

I am not writing this short little essay to assay the problem of gun violence myself. I can’t claim that I know all of the elements that created the problem, as some people do. (For example, some people blame the problem on taking God out of schools. The issue is way more complex than that). Since I admittedly haven’t identified all of the elements that created the problem, I won’t pretend to have the solutions to the problem.

Having said that, I will not deny that there is a problem begging for reasoned solutions. Statistics prove otherwise:

So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.

The scope of the gun violence problem is not limited to school shootings or shootings that are considered “mass shootings.” According to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, nearly two-thirds of deaths from guns are suicides.

I will not put all the blame for the problem on the other side, though I won’t absolve them of blame either. There are reasons that people cling to their guns even if I do not understand their reasons.

I will never stop wanting a solution to the problem of gun violence.

I will never say there is nothing we can do.

I will never stop grieving the senseless loss of life.

I will never blame the problem on the mentally ill.

When you have a huge problem, you need assayers to analyze the problem from all angles. You need problem solvers. You need people who are not afraid to ask questions. You need people who are not beholden to a special interest group. You need people who will not give up until they get the answers.

Dare I hope that the young people of America will assay this problem?


None So Blind

There are none so blind as those who will not see. This phrase came to mind as I read and heard reactions to the mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school. There are people who will not see a connection between the easy access to assault-style weapons in the U.S. and the increasing number of mass killings in which military-style rifles were the chosen killing tool. Sadly, there are still people who will not see how inhuman it is to rush to the defense of an inanimate object when animate, human beings are slaughtered.

The responses to the latest massacre were predictable, almost as if people were reading from a script, perhaps a well-worn script handed to them by the national killing tool association. As Rolling Stones noted a couple of years ago, gun advocates make the same tired excuses every time there is a mass shooting. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s not a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue. The second amendment guarantees my right to bear arms!

The responses to mass shootings are predictable because the American culture is broken, sick, dysfunctional. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that there is something wrong with this country. We brag to the world about how great we are. We’re the land of the free and home of the brave! We’re the land of opportunity! Yet in the good old USA, a child cannot go to school without learning to hide from a gunman. And mind you, children are not hiding because of  foreign terrorists. They are hiding because of the threat of fellow Americans.

The second amendment was written to ensure that we have a well-regulated Militia. But the citizens of this country are not a well-regulated militia by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that gun violence is out of control.

Let me say it again. The United States of America is broken. Yet some people are just too selfish to make the sacrifices it will take to fix our brokenness. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Thoughts and prayers won’t fix it. Pretending that a person with a knife could cause the same level of carnage won’t fix it. Pretending this is just a mental health issue won’t fix it.

Since I first started blogging in 2012, I have written about gun violence nine times, including this post. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs.

Every time there is a mass shooting, I grieve, not just for the loss of lives and for the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, whose lives are ripped apart when a loved one is lost to gun violence. I grieve for my country – for the selfishness that causes people to turn a blind eye to the reality that we are faced with every time there is a mass shooting.

This country is broken. For the sake of our children, we need to fix it.

† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

Lord, have mercy

Christ, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on us.

Suspicious from A to Z

In response to today’s word prompt, I made a list of suspicious things from A to Z.

  1. Suspicious activity
  2. Suspicious behavior
  3. Suspicious circumstances
  4. Suspicious deaths
  5. Suspicious email
  6. Suspicious fire
  7. Suspicious glare
  8. Suspicious husband
  9. Suspicious incident
  10. Suspicious jealousy
  11. Suspicious kitten
  12. Suspicious lies
  13. Suspicious mind
  14. Suspicious numbers
  15. Suspicious observers
  16. Suspicious package
  17. Suspicious questions
  18. Suspicious reaction
  19. Suspicious sound
  20. Suspicious transaction
  21. Suspicious url address
  22. Suspicious vehicle
  23. Suspicious wife
  24. Suspicious x-ray result
  25. Suspicious You song
  26. Suspicious zodiac signs

There are a lot of suspicious things for a person to be suspicious about. But who exactly is a suspicious person? Is it the person who feels suspicious of someone or something? Or is it a person who engages in suspicious behavior? How can the same adjective apply to both?

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious

Roy G. Biv Lives On

I don’t know a real person with the last name Biv. You probably don’t either. But the name Roy G. Biv has occupied space in my head since I was a kid. I learned this simple mnemonic to remember the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. I’ve known Roy G. Biv for so long, it is hard to remember who introduced us, but I think it was my science teacher, Mr. Rose.

I don’t remember using acronyms to help me memorize any other lists. My husband learned the mnemonic HOMES to remember the names of the great lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. When he told me the acronym, I was able to name all but one.

I asked my husband if he thought that “I before E except after C” is a mnemonic and he didn’t think so. But it is. A mnemonic does not have to be an acronym, although many of them are. It is just a technique to help you remember something. This particular mnemonic is flawed though because the English language is wierd.

A memory technique that I don’t practice but have read about is called the Method of Loci. If you need to remember a list of items to pick up at the grocery store, you could imagine each item in a room in your house. It sounds like a lot of preparation to me. But when I see a server take the orders of several people around a table without writing anything down, I think they must be using this kind of mnemonic device and I am quite impressed.

Mnemonic devices are kind of cool and I feel kind of cheated that I didn’t learn more of them. There’s still lots of useless information in my head so Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Memory is both fascinating and frustrating. It’s fascinating that I can remember a made-up name from the seventh grade but I won’t remember that I have an appointment unless I write it down.

via Daily Prompt: Mnemonic