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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gun Control

A musket, popular when the constitution was written
I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other about gun control. Maybe it's because my life has never been ruined by gun violence. Maybe it's because I live in a  state with very few gun laws (except those pertaining to hunters) and very little gun violence. Most gun-related death here in Vermont (knock on wood) is the result of  a hunting accident. I don't know if we're lucky or smart. I just know that living in this sort of environment has provided me the luxury of not needing to have a strong opinion. It's not a luxury that everybody has. Even so, as I peruse Facebook (okay, yeah. I spend too much time on Facebook). I don't see much in the way of anti-gun propaganda, but I see tons and tons of pro-gun stuff. It seems a bit unbalanced (an appropriate word in many ways;-). There are so many angry people reacting strongly to a situation that isn't really even a 'thing'.

Okay, a bit of advice here: If you want to make an argument against gun control, you may want to avoid the following: Threats of violence, joking about shooting people for being on your lawn, comparing guns to cars or pencils or any other inane and irrelevant comparison that screams "I SO don't get it!"; over-the-top rage, expressions of bunker-mentality, anti-government and conspiracy references, hyperbole to make a point (eg, "Obama's gun ban" doesn't actually exist, so referencing it angrily and repeatedly makes you sound, um...let's go with 'uninformed') or really anything that may imply you are mad as hell and have no impulse control. I'm just sayin'. There's nothing that says "guns are a bad idea" quite like an angry, reactive person holding a gun (or threatening to hold one).

I believe in the second amendment, I believe in the spirit of the second amendment too. But we have to remember that when the constitution was written, the weapons at our disposal were very different. Our culture was very different. Let me be clear here that I haven't researched the numbers and this is all just opinion, but we have do something. I mean, this is sort of ridiculous if you think about it; we react to everything that is potentially dangerous to the point of redundancy, but we can't touch an item that is actually intended to cause bodily harm without a whole bunch of folks having a total meltdown. Are we really so immature and ridiculous that we can't have a productive and rational discussion about potential solutions? I don't think ANYBODY is suggesting disarming citizens, and it's not something I would support either. But do average citizens need to have access to weapons designed to do maximum damage in a combat situation? I don't think so. In fact, I can't think of a rational argument (remember I said rational) to support such a scenario, but I can think of several reasons 'why not' (as can the families and friends of victims of the many mass slaughters that have occurred in this country in the last several years). Yes, you can kill someone with a car, or a pencil, or hell, even dental floss if you are so inclined. But you can't mow down a room full of innocent people in under a minute.

I don't have a lot of respect for people who like to come across all "bad-ass" because they have guns. It doesn't take a great deal of either 'bad' or 'ass' to own a firearm and threaten someone with it. I do respect people who can solve their problems rationally, guns or no. I respect people who think before they react, who try to see both sides of an argument and who have enough common sense to work through issues and help find solutions. I respect people who can form their own opinions and don't need a well-funded special interest group to feed their opinion to them, even if they happen to be members of the aforementioned group.

We have a lot to think about in this country right now. We have a very real problem with violence. I don't believe that guns are the cause, but they are certainly a means of facilitation. Their misuse is a symptom of a much larger problem that needs to be addressed and some emergency action needs to take place on several fronts, guns included. We can't do anything though, if we aren't even willing to have an open discussion.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Narcissism

It sounds like a dirty word, and it certainly can be. But we all have our own bit of narcissism. Some people are car-narcissists; they are very particular about what they are seen driving. They see cars as status symbols and are proud of driving luxury automobiles. I'm not a car narcissist. I see big, expensive cars as a monumental waste of money, especially if they are also gas-hogs. I get the need for a large vehicle if you have a big family or you need a truck for work (or to haul a horse-trailer!) but for the most part I tend to be unimpressed buy what people drive. I'm more about automotive practicality. My first priority is long-term reliability, my second is utility. If it's cute too, well, that's a bonus. But that's just me because I'm not a car-narcissist.

Some people (most, actually) are fashion-narcissists to one degree or another. Again, not for me. I work in my jammies and most of my wardrobe falls well within the 'comfortable' spectrum. I think it would be safe to say that there aren't many material things that I'm terribly into or exited about. I like decent stuff that works when it's supposed to. I'll admit I'm not a fan of broken stuff that is barely hanging on, but that's reasonable for anyone I suppose. My grandparents used to say "buy the best quality you can reasonably afford and take care of it". It's a good policy.

Narcissism, ironically, can be ugly. We all know the the person who spends all their time and resources on clothing, hair, nails and makeup, and all their time in the mirror. Their favorite topic is themselves, how hot they are, etc. Unfortunately, this much focus on what's outside is usually compensation for an inside that's a hollow, dusty and cobwebby husk of humanity.  I'm not saying that I don't know people who are beautiful both inside and out, just that their outer beauty is more a consequence of their inner beauty coming through. I even know a few beauty-focused people who also happen to be exceptional human beings. Their beauty isn't all they're about and they have some depth. They can be appearance-narcissists while still having balance in their lives. And that's really the trick to making your narcissism work for you, isn't it? Balance.

Narcissism can be fun in moderation, and it need not be harmful. If you're a car-narcissist and you can afford a fun auto, AWESOME:-) That's what we work for, isn't it? It's human nature to express ourselves through things (hell, it's the nature of several animal species as well), so why not? My personal narcissism revolves around dog and horse stuff. Random, I know. But I have no problem at all walking my very well dressed dog down the street while I'm wearing an old pair of sweat pants. I actually worked at a tack shop a few years ago so I could be as obsessive as I wanted to be about 'dressing' my daughter's horse. I would walk in the door every morning and inhale the new saddle smell deep into my lungs. Incoming shipments of new tack were like hits of crack for me. No, that doesn't speak to moderation, but the specificity of my unique narcissism means it's self-limiting. Thank God:-) Other people might look at my desire for uber-nice dog/horse stuff as a little nutty considering my wardrobe and my 20 year old car. I get it, but it's all about the priorities. Dog/horse stuff may not mean anything to the folks standing around shaking their heads. They aren't dog/horse narcissists.  We're all different, and that's okay. Kumbaya.

I guess the take-away message of this meandering rumination is this: Even our flaws can have a purpose if we acknowledge them and indulge them a bit. It's all about moderation:-)