Tag Archives: laws

Gun Controlfusion

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It astonishes me how many people feel so passionately about one side of an argument or another when I am teetering on a fence in between, unable to decide how I really feel. People tend to get so heated when discussing personal views that any opportunity for real discussion is completely abrogated within a few minutes. Having been a bit removed from all of the recent talk in the States about gun control, and after seeing countless memes and graphs plastered on my Facebook feed, I decided to dig a little. Because the pie charts suggesting gun violence is decreasing, and the statistics about guns being leading cause of homicide can’t both be right. So, I spent the morning reading a lot of poorly presented data and some borderline fallacious graphs about deaths involving firearms in the US. Turns out they kind of are both right. That’s the thing about statistics; they can be bent to look a particular way to suit our particular needs.

Which leads to the thing about forming an opinion. You can’t expect to have a legitimate view on something unless you seek out information, understand both sides of an argument, and come to a decision based on fact, not fancy rhetoric or retweeted articles written by the NRA.

I started out my morning on NPR as I usually do, and came across a blatantly left article about deaths in the States, US Ranks Below 16 Other Rich Countries in Health Report, which called out gun violence as a major factor in America’s higher than most developed countries mortality rates. This prompted my research, as I wondered how significant an impact guns really did have on deaths in America, and how much this author was just giving into all the media hype recently in circulation.

I sifted through some data, and found that firearm homicides make up .5 percent of deaths in the US, while suicide by firearm accounts for about .6 percent. This means that approximately 1.1 percent of deaths in the States are due to firearms (about 27,364 in 2011). Interesting when you take into account that:

  • Drug-related deaths accounted for 1.6 percent of deaths
  • Alcohol-related deaths (excluding FAS and homicides as a result of alcohol consumption) accounted for 1 percent
  • Diseases of the heart accounted for more 24 percent
  • Malignant neoplasms (big word for cancer) accounted for about 23 percent deaths

I realize discussing death in general is much different than discussing homicide. I also realize there is more to an issue than the numbers involved. The arguments about cigarettes killing more people than guns, and regulating X instead of Y doesn’t quite fit into context, and those arguments are invalidated by the other side instantaneously. It just seems lately that so many people from both sides are pointing fingers in this one arena, when it accounts for such a small part of the real issues our country is facing.We tend to get so absorbed in the minutia that the media is feeding us that we fail to see the bigger, far more important picture. It’s an important area, I agree; it should be discussed. But so much hate has been thrown around about it lately. As if we don’t have enough racial, sexual and religious discrimination… as if we need a new outlet to hate each other.

I’m not exactly sure where I stand in the discussion about gun control. There are examples of countries with a lot of gun control who do it right, and vice-versa. It’s not a matter of taking a model that works for someone else and applying it to ourselves. Apples and oranges, square peg, round hole, you know the idioms I’m referring to. I have a lot of questions and  not a lot of answers. But doesn’t it seem easier to blame McDonalds for our obesity than our own bad habits… Are we playing the same card with gun control? Do guns kill people or do people kill people?

I don’t know that 18 year old Joe Schmoe has much need for a semi-automatic rifle. Having said that, is it my right to tell him that he doesn’t anymore than I have the right to keep him from smoking or eating a Big Mac every day? There are many sides to every discussion. It’s okay to disagree and discuss and get heated, but remember we’re all just people guessing at the end of the day. Your solution may just be the worst one out there when put into practice.

Regardless of such, I challenge you to read for yourself, decide for yourself. Don’t form opinions based on trending hashtags and what your parents want you to believe. You don’t have to choose left or right, the red pill or the blue pill. It’s okay to be in-process of forming an opinion, or simply be undecided about the right course of action. There’s far too much grey matter to be so staunchly decisive in today’s world.  

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Laws of good love and friendship.

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This has been one of the most exciting months of my life. I moved back home, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and had my first surgery.

This made me realize a few really important things about love that I’ve always thought about but spent little time contemplating. Not sappy, Nicholas Sparks love, but real-life, down and dirty way-you-love-your-best-friends-love.

First: moving home.

Not an easy task when you’re 24 years old. I was mostly embarrassed at first, but my friends helped conjure up some good excuses, and then reminded me of them after the first week of my Dad texting me when I wasn’t home by midnight. Bigger picture excuses. This brings me to thing I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 1: Be a public defender.

Moving home was the right decision for me, as difficult as it was to swallow the giant lump of pride I kept gagging on the first few weeks. Moving home allowed me Prague. If I would have continued my lease, not only would I not have the money to go, but I wouldn’t have realized that my family will survive without me. I needed the support of my friends to make it okay. Even though I was trying to convince myself that it was okay to be 24 and living at home, and it was okay to make a leap and be scared to death, I needed the people around me who know me the best to tell me the same thing. I needed the people around me to believe in me.

Which led to the next step in my journey: Committing to Prague.

There were mixed reactions. A little sadness, some excitement, but one really bad reaction that came from some of the people I’m closest to:

The selfish reaction. A ‘that’s not fair of you to leave‘ reaction that I got from some people – some with whom I’m closest. It was disappointing. I realize that I’m going to be really far away and that’s scary. I realize our dreams were different when we were younger.  We won’t get married like we joked about; I may not be around for the things I thought I would; you may die while I’m gone; I may die while I’m gone.

So this led to thing I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 2: Listen to all testimony before delivering your verdict.

I’ve sooo been this friend before: “OMG you’re engaged… are you sure that’s a good idea?” WRONG. “Have you thought this through?” WRONG. “You’re kidding, right?” WRONG!

By this time, the person telling you does think it’s a good idea, they have thought it through and they are not kidding. A lot of times, your initial reaction has your best interest at heart, even if you might not realize it. The life you have been picturing is shattered and you are hurt. I know that a lot of the bad reactions I got about Prague were because my friends were scared and felt betrayed that all of the plans we had been making for so long went up in a puff of Eastern European smoke.

But here’s the thing: even if you know – without a doubt – that your friend is ruining their life, now isn’t the time to bring it up. Hear. Listen. Absorb. Our little brains are swimming with endorphins and nerves are firing like missiles in WWII at the point. Shooting down someone’s dreams won’t talk them out of it. They just won’t talk to you about it. If someone you care about is really making a bad decision, bring it up another time when the anxiety of their big news is no longer around and you’re both able to breach the subject with a cool head.

Chances are, even if they are making a mistake in your eyes, you are going to have to learn to live with it, because as much as they love you, they probably won’t be changing their mind. Which brings us to things I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 3: The judge sits alone.  In other words, if you decide to be judgmental, you run the risk that no one will care what your ruling is.

Next came the surgery.

So, with the excitement of Prague still fresh on my mind and my Facebook wall, I started feeling bad. Eventually, my stomach ache led to a surgery (This isn’t a pity post – I’m fine). But, this was my first of anything like this before. I only told a few people because it wasn’t a big deal at the time and I didn’t want people to worry.

But, it made me realize who did worry, which made me see things differently. I got flowers from work and at first, thought how caring that was. But then I realized, no one from work asked how I was doing but one person (my boss) and no one even responded to the email I sent updating everyone. The disheartening truth is that the flowers are probably a box on a list to check when someone is out of work for more than a week. A corporate facade of concern. And that wasn’t the only facade. The one person who I confided in  completely couldn’t even remember to remember. He pretended to be concerned, like he thought he was supposed to, but didn’t follow through in the end (and trust me, that wasn’t the first time he wasn’t able to follow through.) There’s another lesson here: Eventually, you run out of appeals. And, when that day comes, you don’t get to be a thing that matters anymore. People will stop answering your calls.

The check-list flowers did make me realize, one thing, however: There are people who genuinely care about me. That is a good feeling to have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not measuring the value of my friendships on who showed the most concern about me during this one week of my life; I only told a few people anyway. I did grow to re-appreciate a few people a lot more though. Dominic, who I forced into being my best friend in the seventh grade, has been texting me relentlessly. Having him prove that he was worried to death made me love him even more. Kaylyn came over just to spend a few hours doing nothing with me on a Friday night because I couldn’t go anywhere. There are others, of course too. This leads me to thought on love and friendship Number 5: When you love someone, never stop proving it to them. 

I’ve received more love in the form of calls, texts, skypes, cards, flowers, milkshakes (thanks mom), kind words and favors
than I remember ever having received at any one time in my life. Or, maybe I’ve just noticed it more.

And, it’s not that we need these things to validate our love, but I’ll tell you this: it is good to be reminded. So thank you
to everyone in my life who continues to be my public defenders, my jury, my peers and my constant support.
You make me better and make me strive for better.

So my closing thought is this: Notice the love around you, and return it in droves.