Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Compass Lost -- Finding a Solution to our Gun Situation

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.  
Raymond Lindquist

Finding your way in unfamiliar territory requires an excellent map. For if you want to know where you're headed, you might want to know the general direction to undertake your journey.

In elementary school my classes did a great deal of map work including not only the geography of the world, but our own neighborhoods. We mapped our routes to and from school with landmarks and street signs. Since I always walked to school, it didn't seem such a difficult task. I'm a saunterer so I tend to notice things while I walk. The detail is what counted in our maps. The detail is what made it workable.

Each map required a compass placed in a prominent place on the page or a failing grade was guaranteed. A compass provided the measure to which one might first locate themselves. To get their bearings. To know which way to take the first step.

Since I lived in a small town divided into quadrants in regard to the numbered street address (NW, SW, NE, SE) direction was an easy issue for me. I lived in NW. My grandparents lived in SW.  The Hormel plant was in NE. The bowling alley in SE.

When I moved to Denver at 13,  I only had to look around and find the mountains. That gave me West. Easy from there. Same thing in Salt Lake City. Wasatch Front. East.  Connecticut - Long Island Sound at the end of the road. South. And then, of course, there is where the sun rises and sets.

Seemed when I knew one direction, I could easily figure out the rest. 

I recently traveled to Ireland. I had prepared. I made a guidebook with maps, hotel reservations and transportation info. I had a general knowledge of things I wanted to see and had printed out the directions from each stop in the country to the next stop. However, I didn't do that for Dublin. I knew places I wanted to see, but I hadn't studied the map. I shouldn't say that. I did study the map. But the map that had fixed itself in my brain couldn't comprehend the lay of the land when I walked it.  I felt like someone had swirled me around in a circle while I wore a blindfold and then sent me out. I had my north and south confused. My east and my west not even in my mind.

My traveling companion had a grasp of the area much better than me.  Also, the city was not that large so aimless walking still provided many a wondrous experience. But losing one's way can be most unsettling. Especially when it has been a strong point in the past.

When I arrived home, I pasted the brochures and mementos from the trip into my homemade book to accompany the journal entries made while there. I came across the Dublin map I'd used. Studying it and recalling my disorientation, I noticed the city was not a perfect grid of north/south/east/west. And the map did not have a compass.

Failing grade in my elementary school. No directional assistance for the walker. For the disoriented.

I share this long tale of direction as I struggle with the current state of my country. I'm more than troubled by the mass shootings aka terrorism (it's terrorism to me no matter how you paint it) involving guns that take place each day in this country. Where more than four people are shot or killed in a single incident by a perpetrator -- each day.

I'm even more troubled when the solution heard most loudly is spoken by those who want to put more guns out there. Who say after tragic loss of life that if the people had been armed, the loss of life would have been less.

Isn't the problem that there was any loss of life at all?

I have to ask how many of those touting that stout opinion of more guns have been in a situation where someone enters their domain and catches them off guard. If all their "gun training" calms their being and immediately sends them into SWAT team mode.

I don't know about you, but it's not in my nature to carry a firearm. Nor to undertake the extensive and continuous process of training to be not only a good marksman, but conscious of how to behave correctly in every shooting situation. How to assess. How to draw my weapon when caught off guard and under fire. How to not take out more innocents like, say, in a dark movie theater.

Nor am I interested in embracing a paranoia of living a life in fear. Not to say that I'm not aware of my surroundings. I do take precautions to ensure my safety. I do that whether in a foreign country or in the parking lot at the grocery store.

But let's be realistic. If something does happen to me, it will be when I least expect it. For isn't that the vulnerability an attacker depends upon?

And if attacked suddenly from behind or having a gun thrust at me while driving or finding myself in a safe environment now flying with bullets fired from an automatic weapon from I-don't-know-who, can I simply hold up my hands and say to the shooter "Can you hold on a minute while I get my gun out of my purse? Just a minute, I promise. It's here somewhere."

Then I have to remember how to use it while my hands shake for what kind of idiot walks around with a gun cocked and loaded. Safety and all, you know.

Many consider a solution to our gun woes is to improve our mental health system. Well, obviously. But how does that work in regard to the mass shooter? The loner with a stockpile of guns. Tables filled with literature of hate.  Do we (and who is we?) go house to house and give everyone a mental health evaluation?  What is the criteria?

I have long avoided taking this blog into any political or alienating place. I've used it to tell stories, share my humor and my family, road trips and my current state of life. I've practiced my writing skills and pushed my imagination to express itself through words and photography. I've talked about books and have most certainly bored you with my rambling thoughts in regard to many "safe" issues.

But today is a new day. I haven't been able to post anything for well more than a month because with all that is happening in my country and the world, my drivel seemed most unimportant.  
As much as I'd like to point out the complete stupidity of many presently taking up the airwaves, I won't. For that is quite obvious. What is missing are the intelligent voices of those who will stand up against it.

I suggest we need to draw a new map. We need to incorporate insightful, pragmatic, achievable solutions to our current out-of-control gun and ammunition debacle.

For we have most certainly misplaced our compass.



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