With each of us, there lies a hint of what we are capable of. It is what we have the potential for. A resource for great things left for us to find a way to develop and use it. Those that have the heart and will to shape these resources can create a better world around them and a better life for living. Such resources are not passive or unlimited, but they are available for all to do something with. Each piece can turn into something positive if it is coaxed and cared for. It can fall into a darkness of selfishness or neglect. The choice is left to the individual.
In the last few weeks, as my first forty years come to a close, I have been pondering this very subject. As a young boy, I saw a world filled with great adventure and potential. It was shaped by the upbringing that I benefited from. My parents gave me the tools to work through the challenges with all the genetic gifts that all children possess. I craved to use those skills to become great and respected by my peers and family. As I grew into my teen years, I had the same problems that all face, but I touched upon one thing that most did not consider important. I knew the future was greater with the education that was given. I excelled in all fashions in the academic areas. Yet, as I looked around, it did not help to reap the great rewards and respect that I expected.
So, I made a few decisions as I left high school. I knew that I wanted to be more than those around me. I had the desire to learn, to study, but it met some of the greatest challenges of my life. These were not life or death challenges, but personal achievements can become difficult if the world around you crumbles. I took my eyes of the prize of my journey and failed to reach it. By my third year of college, I was lost. I did not have the answers that would fix my situation. I retreated to a place of security with the hope of climbing back into the sunlight again. Unfortunately, that place was not there. My fall was long and hard. I broke with the security of my family and found a new direction.
It was at this point that I turned my mind to founding my own place of stability and family. For two decades, I had faced the world with the knowledge that if I failed, I would have a net to catch me. I left that because it was a frayed net. I wove a new net with the stable force in my life. My spouse and I did not always find our way, but our trials were early and hard. We passed through them with the strength to face anything…even a life apart from family.
For the last two decades, I have searched with that companionship. I found that my faith in my family would have to turn to something else. The importance of a faith to worship faded as it was broken by those years at the end of my second decade. I will address my broken faith later, but for now, let it be said that I refocused my energies to understanding the world and its context. I would not seek to follow something blindly because the answers were not my own. I needed my own answers.
Now that I have reached the end of my two decade quest, I believe that I have the answers that I needed. I did not find the greatness or respect that most people do. It was not the level that I expected as a young person. What I found was that I still have a life left to go to find that reward. For now, I revel in the things that I have created. A family can become the source of great support. Children are a wonderful beacon for the future and the legacy that is left behind. Friends are simply the icing on the cake. I have great things, but I cannot settle for it. It does not mean that I don’t appreciate these things, but my will and heart want to keep strive for the goal. It is all to reach the end and be equal to those before.
Here is to the years to come and the next score of years be used to sharpen the mind and climb the mountain. I will seek the summit and more if I can.
Recent events have conjured up thoughts about similar events of the past few years, which bring the conversation of gun control to the forefront. Each mass shooting that occurs brings the feelings of horror and fear. Horrific displays of violence that end with even a death are preventable. The sympathy for the victims and survivors in these situations is necessary and understood. The questions are overwhelming as to why any of this happened. However, the greatest question is on the prevention of it happening. How could we as a society avoided such unnecessary events? How can we stop all deaths from gun violence?
The conversation has been avoided by most of the leaders as it is claimed that the time is inappropriate. Yet, if we wait, then the moment of learning has past and all is lost in vain. The talk of gun control needs to be held on all levels including the prevention of the societal issues that created the situation in the first place.
There is little argument that the gun is not to blame for the actions of the person. No gun will march out to a place and kill multiple people without someone to pull the trigger. I would not say that the tool is the blame of the action, but it is the tool of the action. Without it being in the possession of a willing individual, the matter will not happen. Simply put, if you don’t give a carpenter a hammer to built, the house will not be built.
Guns have purpose in the hands of the wielder, so we must address the true issue of gun violence. Two sides of this debate will forever twist and balance on the tip of the Second Amendment. As citizens of the U.S., we all have this right as accorded in the Constitution. Pause for a moment and read the exact words and understand the context of the words:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
These words have created debate upon debate without pause. It has led to crucial and defining decisions in the Supreme Court which have shaped our current view from the original context. There is no doubt that anyone can break this right down to support their view. It is apparent in the large lobbying group, NRA, which never stops campaigning for the right to keep guns available to everyone.
However, let’s consider one point mentioned already. The wielder of the weapon is the one with the intent, and based on the environmental and societal effects on this person, it can move away from this right to bear arms among others in a well regulated militia very quickly. The Free State that requires security does need a well regulated militia that serves the people. It is not for the individual to use as one pleases. It is the individual right to have the weapon in the case of raise arms to protect, but the aggressor should never be defended with this right. It is purely a stance of defense.
Most news outlets and the sheep that follow along without thinking would have the populace believe that now is not the time for a discussion. Waiting will only bring the next tragedy before the news covers it again. This is wrong. Shortly after President Reagan was shot and a member of his cabinet was struck in the head, a form of gun control came into the discussion and was passed into law. It was not too early then. When Gabby Giffords was shot in Tuscon, AZ, it was mentioned that gun control was being brought up too soon. After the shootings in West Virginia and Aurora, we heard that it was all too soon to speak of gun control. The victims are gone. Families are wounded. Lives are destroyed. It is too late for this to be changed, but it is never too soon to wake up and fix this problem. Regulate the guns by regulating the people who go to buy them. The sense of the solution is bubbling over and it is time that we break through the horrific rhetoric of the media and lobbyists who cry “Too Soon!”
Enough…just fix the solution at its source before it is Too Late for someone else. Protect the citizens by protecting the guns from aggressors.
The idea of offering respect to the religious institutions has never been a terrible thought. It is a respect originally generated from the purpose of wisdom that can be provided by these entities. They hold the status of non-profit organizations in the same fashion as charities, due to the services provided to the community. This very idea at its core holds steady with beliefs set down by some of the great fathers and mothers of the country. In fact, it is crucial to the ideal that no religion is established by the government or prohibited in its practice. It is a principle that would be difficult for any citizen to avoid supporting.
However, it has begun to feel that such a simple principle has been corrupted and ruined by the activities of these organizations. That is not to say that all are, but when an organization grows large enough to create its own form of lobbying, it may be time to re-examine this situation. As many have concluded in the past, there is an understood and well-supported case that the US Constitution speaks of a separation of church and state. This separation works to help offer the religious organizations the special tax exempt status, yet some of these organizations have become a political tool to influence the congregations. This is the line. Once a tax exempt entity enters the arena of the state, the separation is gone and the exemption is void.
Now some might consider it to be difficult to make a judgment of how far is too far or that freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Consider that statement and remember that it is a barrier to help protect the state from the establishment of a single religion while protecting the various religions from being persecuted as being the wrong religion for the whole country. It is not a matter of negotiation for how far, but a simple concept of keeping the structure protected. If a tax exempt organization steps into a position that will influence the state, it loses its status.
On the same principle, the state does not cross the line either to establish a single tax exempt organization above others. Now, it is understandable that one religion or charitable group might have a majority, but it needs to remain separate. Imagine what would happen if the Red Cross become so imbedded in the state that other charities could not raise donations to support their cause. Yes, we know that the Red Cross serves in emergencies and disasters, but we still need those charities that support research into cancer and various social causes. We need to have a level playing field and not some lopsided debate.
In the end, the point remains that tax exempt status for non-profit organizations should be honored to those that remain inside the guidelines. The boundaries occur for a reason and once they are broken, all the guarantees of a stable society are in jeopardy. What is the point of a democracy if the voices of the many are drowned out by the voices of the few? There is no doubt in my mind that if we can find our balance again, we will never stop our progress as a country and a world of human kind.