Summer vacation: Terror in the Tent, part II

After recovering from the fright of a snake slithering over my sandals and the horror of crushed feet there was more traveling to do for this summer vacation. (Read part one of this adventure.) I rolled with the punches and pretended I didn’t live through terror in the tent.

Rolling with the punches included getting up way too early, packing up camp, and roasting in the car for eight hours. The highlight of the day was stopping for ice cream in a small town on the Nebraska-Colorado border. We had permission to order anything we wanted. So of course, we all ordered the decadent and rare treat of ice cream sundaes. He served four of us immediately. Then the server disappeared into a back room for about ten minutes. The three who were not served were curious, then irritated.

By the time the server reappeared, my father had finished his ice cream. The server took Dad’s sundae dish, washed it, and filled it with an ice cream sundae which he served to me. And so it went. As each of the first four finished, their dish was washed and refilled until the last three had their ice cream. The seven of us ordering sundaes exceeded the number of sundae dishes he had. Yup. It was that small of a town.

Driving up to the Rocky Mountains was awe inspiring. Pictures simply didn’t convey the grandeur and spectacle of the mountains. Driving up the narrow, curvy, mountain roads was almost more than my poor mother could tolerate. Finally, we reached our destination. It was everything I had dreamed of. A cold, babbling mountain stream lay feet from our campsite and snow-covered peaks surrounded us.

My summer vacation: terror in the tent part II by Lynette M. Burrows

Now, we were from the central states. We’d been to the Smokey Mountains, but nothing like the Rockies. And it was July. When the sun went down we thought we’d been teleported to another planet! It was freezing @$$ cold. We had no winter wear with us. Remember my sandals? Yikes. We each had a windbreaker. It wasn’t enough. We put on every piece of clothing we’d brought with us. Dad built a big fire and we huddled around it. I still was freezing and decided my sleeping bag would be warmer.

Terror in the Tent part II, my summer vacation by Lynette M. Burrows

Inside the tent wasn’t much warmer than outside. I crawled into my sleeping bag, zipped it closed around me and, covering my head, I snuggled down. Ah, bliss. I began to warm up.

And then, something began to rattle. It sounded awfully close. The rattle sped up, grew to a buzz. And then something scratchy crawled up my leg! I screamed and shot out of the sleeping bag like toothpaste out of the tube. I yanked on the zipper for the tent door. It jammed.  I couldn’t stop screaming. My parents fought with the zipper. One of them finally got the zipper unjammed and pulled me out of the tent.

Hysterical, all I could say was, “Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake. Sleeping bag!”

My father grabbed a big stick and went into the tent. We watched through the screen as he poked my sleeping bag with the stick. Nothing happened. He poked again. He bent and unzipped my bag. The buzzing started again. He took a big step back, then lifted the top corner of my sleeping bag and out flew a cicada.

My brother couldn’t stop laughing.

I couldn’t stop shaking.

I’m not sure how I managed to climb back into that sleeping bag and sleep that night.

The next morning we found all our containers of water and frozen solid. That was the last night we camped at that altitude. Thankfully, it was also the last night of terror in the tent. We had other adventures that trip—the car broke down, a cattle drive came through our camp one day, and a forest fire re-routed us for a while.

With the tincture of time, I’m able to look back at these adventures and smile. It was terrible at the time. And I swore I’d never camp again. (I didn’t for a while.) We had other family vacations to other locations. And there was always at least one adventure (like a rainstorm flooding the Great Salt Lake Desert). But the vacation that was full of terror (to my teenaged self) was also the trip where I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. I’ve returned to the Rockies many times since but I’ve never again experienced the terror in the tent that I did the year of my family vacation.

Summer Vacation: Terror in a Tent

When I was kid summer vacations were about getting away from home. I grew up in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio cities. Often childhood family vacations were trips to visit grandparents and aunts and uncles. In my teens, my family chose the adventure of camping. But sometimes the adventure turned into terror in a tent.

Summer Vacation: terror in a tent, or the memories of being a teenaged girl who wasn't meant to go camping
Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash

At first, our camping vacations were to area lakes and parks. This time we were going to visit the Rocky Mountains. Now, I was already an insatiable reader. Usually, I spent camping trips reading ensconced in one of those folding chairs with that plastic webbing. I did some fishing, some hiking, and enjoyed cookouts and campfires. But stories were my thing even then. This time, though, I looked forward to the adventure of visiting the Rockies.

Being a female teen I was up for an adventure to the mountains as long as I could wear cool clothes. No, I don’t mean the latest fad. I mean cool. We spent hours and hours in a four-door sedan. My younger brother, my much younger tomboy sister, my infant brother, my parents, my father’s “ancient” mother, and I squeezed into the “comfortable for four” car. Seven people in an unairconditioned car traveling through the central plains in July? I mean, come on! It was HOT. I wore a shirt and shorts (very modest by today’s standards) and strappy sandals.

Our first stop was a barren campground in western Iowa. I only remember two things about that campground. Phase one of terror in a tent began when I stepped out of the car and a snake slithered over my open-toed sandal. I ran to the nearest picnic table, scaled it, and stood there screaming. I refused to return to the campsite my parents had picked. They finally relented and moved camp—to the other side of the campground. (I know, I know—now.) At the time, it mollified me.

My parents set up the tent while grandma took care of the baby. I don’t remember what I did, but I can guess—chair, shade, book.

The tent wasn’t large enough for all seven of us. There was math involved in getting space for all us to stretch out and yet leave room for mom and grandma to get up in the night. Grandma’s cot ran the length of one side of the tent, the side closest to the door. Mom’s cot was across the back of the tent. The baby slept in a box beside mom’s cot. And Dad’s cot ran the length of the other side of the tent.  My sleeping bag was on the ground. In order to leave a path for Grandma, my lower legs had to go under my father’s cot. It didn’t bother me. I could sleep anywhere. My sister slept next to me and my brother next to her. His feet also were under Dad’s cot. I don’t think her feet reached that far.

We were all exhausted thanks to an early departure and a day with record-breaking heat. We went to bed when the sun went down.

In the middle of the night, two of the legs of my father’s cot collapse. I woke up screaming, certain my feet were crushed. It took Dad a while to untangle himself from the sleeping bag and broken cot. My feet weren’t crushed. Bruised, but I could walk. My brother escaped injury because he’d curled up into a ball. I don’t remember how long the commotion lasted or how long it took my parents to work out a different sleeping arrangement. But Dad slept on the ground after that. I slept on the other side of the tent.

The second terror in a tent should have had me insisting on going home. But I was a good kid. I rolled with the punches or the crushes or—well, you know what I mean. Besides, adventures like this fed my writer’s imagination.

Have you had a vacation or two where things didn’t go smoothly? Those events were scary, but the terror in the tent didn’t start until we reached the Rocky Mountains. I’ll tell you more about that, next time. In the meantime, please share your vacation nightmares memories in the comments below.

Twice in the past few weeks, I’ve embarrassed myself! Sheesh. Sorry folks. Evidently, I didn’t press the right button when I tried to schedule this post to go live on Wednesday, September 5th. And although I was curious as to why the post bombed so badly no one liked or commented on it, I never came to the website to verify that I’d actually posted it. It was only when I was attempting to link it to the second part that I realized it hadn’t posted. *headdesk* Ah well. Since this is a two-parter, this one must be posted first. The second part will be posted next Monday.

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear makes my heart stutter and my brain scream stop. Hope makes me smile and dream. I flip-flop between these two minute-to-minute. Determination keeps my fingers moving. That’s what happens when you let your dreams be bigger than your fears.

Six Days to Publication, Lynette talks about letting your dreams be bigger than your fear. Read More

My Soul to Keep launches in six days. At times I can hardly believe it. This novel has been years in the making. Why did it take so long? Fear. Many different fears.

Danger

The danger warnings I have gotten have varied. One danger was that I had exposed too much of my personal life. Another was that I would be ridiculed. Or I would be put on the spot about beliefs espoused in my book. Sometimes the fear was about real situations in my life that had nothing to do with my writing but scared me nonetheless.

Sometimes the fear drove me away from the work. There were days I didn’t even turn on the computer. More than once I discovered I had walked away from my desk, without conscious thought. I’d return and find my computer on, a sentence half-written. Fear had stopped me again.

When the fear was bigger than my dream, the fear turned me into a ghost. Diminished to less than what I could be. Ghost me drifted through the day reinforcing how I wasn’t worthy, I couldn’t do it anyway, I should just give up.

Determination Can Help You

I didn’t give up. My determination was stronger. My dream came back every time, bigger, stronger. I learned the things I needed to learn. I wrote reams and reams of words that I’d cut and throw away. For a while, fear tried to tell me that the rewriting and throwing away were signs of my fear. Some days that may have been true. Most days it wasn’t. Learning takes practice.

Six days away from publication fear visits me again. It whispers, “No one cares. It’ll be a flop. You’ll fail. Failure will cause you too much pain.”

Lessons Learned

I acknowledged my fear.

Yes, I’m terrified but I am determined to try.

I am letting some of my self and my past bleed onto the page. But my characters are not me. My readers have their own pain and past to deal with. I hope I can help them.

Ridicule may hurt. But it is more about the person who is casting the ridicule than about me.

It may be awkward and unsettling for me to be put on the spot, but I will feel sorry for that person who put me there. He has more fear than I.

The scary life situations are scary. If my fear stops me for a time, that’s okay. I’m human. I will sit at the computer another day.

What is failure? I have learned and grown and gotten through to the end despite all that fear has thrown at me. That’s success.

Taking the Power Back

Somewhere along the way, I learned that there’s a difference between feeling fear, acting on fear, and succumbing to fear. I learned to love the me who sits at the computer lost in a world of words.  My power is in my dream, my determination.

No matter how scared I am, I’m also exhilarated.

Six Days

The ebook version of My Soul to Keep is on pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. It’s coming to iTunes and Google Play soon. There will be a paperback version as well. No, fear isn’t the issue—technology is challenging me but it won’t overcome my determination. *smile*

Let Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Your Fears

Fear won’t stop my next book either.

I hope this helps if you are being held back by fear. Face your fears. But feed your dream. Let your dream be bigger than your fear. You’ll be glad you did.

10 Ways to Supercharge Your Self-Confidence

Has your confidence been ebbing lately? Feel like a failure? Is it possible to change no confidence to something better? Here are 10 ways to supercharge your self-confidence.
Why have you no confidence? I’m betting it has to do with some fear you have. Fear you won’t “fit in”. Fear that you won’t measure up or that you’re a failure. Fear that no one will hear or see you. Okay. I get it. I have those fears, too. Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it?” Yup. That’s what you gotta do. I know you’re not feeling it right now but walk through the steps. I’ll be you can fake it ‘till you make it.

BASICS

Get up out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed. Dress in an outfit that makes you feel like you look good. Dress as if you’re going to a power lunch. Pretend you’ve got the job of your dreams and you’re having lunch with your number one customer at the best restaurant in town even if, in reality, you’re having lunch by yourself at home. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re not schlepping around in your PJs.

PHOTOSHOP YOUR SELF-IMAGE

I love this one from Leo Babauta—Photoshop your self-image. We all have a mental image of ourselves. When we are confident, our self-image reflects that. But when we lose confidence, man what we do to our self-image. So, you gotta photoshop it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Hmm. Is that as good as you can make it? I don’t think so. Do it again. This time, be your own fairy godmother. Turn that pumpkin into a golden carriage that can take you where you want to go. Right now it doesn’t matter if that’s how you feel inside. Fake it until you make it. In other words, hold that photoshopped self-image up for you to look at several times each day.

BE KIND TO SOMEONE ELSE

I know you don’t feel like it, but go out in public. I don’t care where—a coffee shop, the grocery store, the library. Even the movie theater will work if you do two things. You look for someone you can compliment, hold the door open for someone, or help in some other way. And when you give the help or the compliment you are going to smile, genuinely smile. Do this at least once a day, preferably many times a day. You’ll feel better, I swear.

DO ONE CHORE

Dust one shelf. Clean off your desktop. Finish one load of laundry. Wash the car. Pick one small step and do it. Cross it off your list. Doing something, even a small thing makes your day feel more successful which makes you feel more confident. And when you cross it off your list, don’t you feel good?

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Watch a video, read a book or a blog post, or go to the library and read a biography of someone you’ve heard about but don’t know much about. Stuck for an idea? Press the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on Google search. Learning can help supercharge your self-confidence.

DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE

Do something you love. Something that you do only for you. A bubble bath, play music, paint, run. Spoil yourself for 15 minutes, longer if you can. Ah, I hear you saying you can’t again. Fake it. Do it for 5 minutes if you can’t stand to do it longer. You deserve at least 5 minutes of self-care a day.

EXERCISE

Oh, now I the protests are loud. I know. I hate to exercise, too. Again, you’re going to fake it for 15 minutes, longer if you can. Dance stretches, a walk, a run, a bike ride, heck go bowling, walk around a museum. It doesn’t matter how you exercise. What matters is that you move. Moving around will get your blood pumping, your lungs working, and when your body gets what it needs, it feels better.

GET THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SLEEP

Get enough sleep, but not too much. This one can be tough. Some people suffer terrible insomnia when their self-confidence tanks. Other people can’t wake up. Science shows that seven to nine hours per day is what your body and brain need. Too little sleep means you can’t focus or your have mood swings or you have no energy to do things. Can’t get enough sleep—talk to your doctor about good sleep habits and sleep aids.

Getting too much sleep? Force yourself to get up and move around. Force yourself to do each one of these ten steps. Too much sleep makes you groggy and you can’t think of what to do. Enlist a friend to help get you up and get going. Arrange a daily phone call or a daily trip to the coffee shop or library.

The right amount of sleep is crucial. Don’t worry if one night a week you extend your sleep or sleeplessness. But your brain will thank you when you get the right amount of sleep most nights.

FORGIVE SOMEONE ELSE

Forgive someone else for not being perfect and/or for making mistakes. We all do the cussin’ and discussin’ of other people who’s mistake or carelessness or thoughtlessness inconvenienced us. Take a deep breath. Forgive them. Let it go. It may take practice (ie. a lot of pretending) before you can feel you’ve genuinely forgiven them, but keep at it until you do.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Be kinder to yourself. When you hear your negative self-talk, things like: “I can’t”, “I’m so (fill in a negative attribute),” or “No one would want me to…” Be kind. Say wait a minute, why am I being so mean to myself? I don’t deserve that. Forgive yourself for not being perfect and/or for making mistakes. Then remind yourself of the things you did that were positive today (I got a shower, got dressed, complimented the grocery store clerk, etc.)

Like these tips? Here’s an infographic you may download and tape to your mirror on those down days. 10 Ways to Supercharge Your Self-Confidence

10 Ways to supercharge your self-confidence @ lynettemburrows.com

There you have it: 10 ways to supercharge your self-confidence. You’ll notice I didn’t say to do the more than one visualizing thing, or the lists thing, or the stop the bad thoughts thing. If those things help you, great. But for this list, I wanted actionable things. Because in my struggles with low self-confidence it has always taken action to boost it. Repeated action. I start off faking it. It’s not easy. It’s not usually an overnight success, but after a while, I’m not faking it anymore.

I hope these 10 ways to supercharge your self-confidence were helpful in some way. Do you have other ways to supercharge your self-confidence? Please share in the comments.

Talking About Guns

I have been extremely reluctant to talk to anyone these days about guns. The vitriol from both sides is poisonous. But, that is the poison that allows terrible tragedies to happen. Silence, even well-meaning, isn’t going to help. So today I’m speaking my mind. I’m going to be talking about guns and the conversation about gun control.

I enjoy target shooting with all manner of weapons.

talking guns, sights on the target, lynettemburrows.com

Does that make me feel safe? Yes and no. Yes, I know I can handle a weapon. But, no, if someone on a rampage is shooting at me and I have a gun, I’m as likely to get shot as anyone. 

Could I protect my loved ones? Yes and no again. Yes, if the situation is right. By right I mean if it were the average criminal who learned how to shoot watching tv and movies. Yes, I could TRY to protect my family. No, I can’t protect my loved ones against someone determined to kill as many people as possible. Anyone who thinks a gun in the hand can protect them is wrongheaded.

It takes at least 5,000 repetitions to get the muscle memory to do the work for you. I have had that many repetitions shooting at the range. But, due to many circumstances, I have not been target shooting in more than 2 years. My skills have rusted, I’m sure. I could handle a gun today but it would take some practice to get my accuracy back up to par.

Why do I defend gun ownership when children are being killed? Because I believe the second amendment’s reference to militia meant the people, not the army, not the government. The people. The second amendment was written in 1791. A mere four years after the constitution was written and only sixteen years after the American Revolution. Given that context, the second amendment meant to give Americans the means to revolt against tyranny like our forefathers did. For that reason, licensing weapons is scary. An unlicensed weapon cannot be seized by the government.

Now I can hear you protesting that we don’t need to do that anymore. Are you kidding me? You’re the ones screaming about our current president and all the harm he’s doing, right? (Don’t get me wrong I’m with you on that one!) So, do you think that the vote and protests will keep our nation free? Have you thought about how many rights have been taken away since 9/11? Does that not concern you?

Over the past twenty years, rights we once had have been stripped away and you’re not worried about that? That’s scary to me!

But this is where you’ll start screaming that killing kids is WRONG! We should be able to protect our kids. You are damn right. I have no issue with that. We have LAWS in place. Murder is against the law. Yet, kids are still being killed. You want to take away guns from everyone. So you can feel safe. So you can feel like you did something.

And while I’m at it, those of you arguing to arm the teachers. QUIT. Now. If you’ve handled a gun you know darn well that it takes LOTS of practice. Do you want the teachers at the gun range practicing or preparing to teach your children? Do you want someone who is NOT a skilled shooter with a gun anywhere near your children? Do you want a loaded gun in a room full of kindergarteners or angry teens? How many accidental shootings will affect teachers and children? How accurate would even a sharpshooter be in a room with 20-30 terrified kids? Need a cooler head and more logical argument against teachers carrying guns? See author and former Green Beret, Bob Mayer’s post

Okay. Let’s say we ban assault weapons. I agree that’s a reasonable law. First, we have to agree upon some definitions. That’s not as easy as you think. The movies and inaccurate journalism have misled you on many points.

Did you know that the weapon used in this latest mass shooting is NOT an assault weapon? At least not according to the NFA list. It is a semi-automatic weapon. Meaning it will automatically re-load the next bullet. It will not fire until the operator pulls the trigger. (for more information read the Bayard and Holmes post here). Many pro-gun people and gun-control advocates will argue over the word choices and definitions. Stop it. You know what each other means. If you don’t, ask the other person for a definition. Don’t argue over it. Agree to disagree on the definition. Move on to discuss the REAL issue.

What Laws?

Second, we need to look at the laws that are already on the books. Did you know there has been a law on who can own assault rifles since 1934? The National Firearms Act (NFA )https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/national-firearms-act imposed a tax of $200 on making, transferring, and possession of an NFA firearm. Its purpose was in part, to “curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms.” (The list of NFA firearms is here.)

The NFA allowed the passing of registration information on unregistered firearms owners to the state. This would allow prosecution of those firearms owners based on that information if ownership violated state law. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment.

An Amendment to the NFA in 1968 fixed this problem by grandfathering in firearms already in one’s possession. In 1986, another amendment defined the term silencer.  It also prohibited the transfer or possession of machine guns. (There are exemptions with the NFA for military and law enforcement.) In a nutshell, the law requires all NFA weapons (see the list) to be registered and taxed. Only weapons of that type owned by civilians before 1934 are exempt. In other words, it’s already illegal to own an assault rifle that is not registered.

Next step in banning all assault weapons, we’d have collections. Even if all the good people would comply, there would still be many, many weapons out there. Owners who would not willingly give up their weapons. They have plans for those guns or they believe that giving up their guns is the first step down a slippery slope. Then we’d have a house-to-house search for those weapons. I don’t own any of those weapons so you’d think I would be fine with that search. I am NOT. That’s another right we have that you are thinking we can give up for this issue. Not only that, but these people who aren’t giving up their guns, aren’t going to let someone into their homes to take those guns. We will have even more gun battles and even more senseless death.

The innocent, law-abiding people will give up their guns and the criminals will not. The people who think that taking lives is something they have the right to do will continue to kill people.

Talking About Guns and Australia

Collecting those guns is not going to be easy. And it will not make anyone safer. Now someone will point to Australia as an example. Hmmm. do some research? And by research, I mean check out the opposing views.

In 1996 a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania, Australia. In the aftermath, Australia government acted quickly. All six states agreed and enacted a gun control law. They banned automatic and semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. They haven’t had a mass shooting since. This is true in so far as it goes.

According to foxnews.com, New Zealand provides a useful comparison to Australia. They are both isolated, island nations, and have similar socioeconomics and demographics. Their mass murder rates were nearly identical before Australia’s gun buyback. 

From 1980 to 1996, Australia’s mass murder rate was 0.0042 incidents per 100,000 people. New Zealand’s was 0.0050 incidents per 100,000 people. After 1997, both countries experienced similar drops in mass murders, even though New Zealand had not altered its gun control laws.  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/02/23/us-gun-control-advocates-exaggerate-benefits-australias-gun-restrictions.html

This suggests banning the guns had little to do with the drop in mass murders in Australia. Now, before everyone goes crazy, what I am saying is we need more data. We need to use appropriate data and comparative data. I don’t think there are too many countries we can appropriately compare with the U.S. And I’m not the only one to think that.

According to the Australian ambassador to the U.S., Joe Hockey, “Australia and the United States are completely different situations, and it goes back to each of our foundings. America was born from a culture of self-defense. Australia was born from a culture of “the government will protect me.” Australia wasn’t born as a result of a brutal war. We weren’t invaded. We weren’t attacked. We weren’t occupied. That makes an incredible difference, even today.” 

No Easy Fix

Am I saying gun control won’t work? NO. I’m saying it may not be the fix-all-be-all.

Am I saying because it’s hard we shouldn’t try gun control? NO. What I’m saying is rein in your emotions people. Both sides are entrenched in thinking it can only be one way. Talk to each other like reasonable adults. All the name calling, hate throwing, ‘there’s only one-way’ thinking is not helping. YOU are not saving kids by arguing that way.

Even if we manage to come to an agreement to ban all weapons that are or can be automatic. And we ban all high-load magazines. And we ban all armor-piercing projectiles. It will take time—lots of time—to collect and destroy those items. What’s your plan for the between time?

What To Do

So, how do we save kids? We start enforcing the laws we already have. NO ONE who takes another person’s life without cause (and by cause I mean self-defense or defense of another) should be exempt. No plea bargaining, no commuting sentences, and no leniency. Period. There are laws on the books that say using a gun in a crime adds years to one’s jail time. Yet this law is RARELY enforced. Let’s ENFORCE the law.

Make ALL states have the same gun laws. Have you looked at the gun laws for your state? Do you know what laws are on the books about murder? How can you propose new laws if you don’t? Will every state agree to the same laws? I don’t believe so, not without federal oversight. So now we add the struggle of getting the Federal government to agree on gun laws. And we add to the burdens already on the ATF or the police or the military. Will you feel safer? I won’t!

Our government hasn’t done anything productive about this. It is unlikely to do anything in the future. Quit making this all about ‘the government’ needs to do something. Take responsibility. Do something. Don’t know the laws in your state? Educate yourself. Make your state legislators, your governors, your mayors, your judges, your attorneys UPHOLD THE LAW. Enforce mandatory sentences and terms.

Boot offending representatives and judges out of office. Yes, that will still take time. People. This isn’t tea we’re talking about. We cannot make an instant fix.

Make journalist stick to the facts. Don’t demand 24-hour news. You will continue to get inflated and inaccurate stories that inflame your fear and don’t inform you.

Make all media reporters NEVER publish the details of the shooter. NEVER tell us what weapon and how many rounds. Why do we need to know? How is that relevant? How does that help anyone? We know it has inspired others to be copycats. Don’t make the shooting and the shooter headline news. Lots of people say tell us about the victims, HONOR the victims. But as a parent would I want this? I don’t know. I cannot imagine how devastated I would be. This is where RESPECT comes in. If a family wishes not to have their loved one listed as a victim, make it so that the media CANNOT report it. Make is so a journalist cannot get within 100 feet of the grieving. If the family chooses to talk to a reporter, that’s different. But let them make a choice.

The Illusion

Will this make us safe? Hell, no. Safety is an illusion. You’re not safe from death EVER. Oh, you want to be safe from just this kind of death? Unfortunately, we cannot protect our kids or even ourselves all the time. I wish we could. We can’t protect them from the sickness that seems to rob people of the sense that life is precious and that others (regardless of race, gender, religion, etc) deserve respect and courtesy and kindness.

And gun owners? I have a few words for you, too. Get over it. Kids are getting killed. SOMETHING has to change. YOU have to change, too. You have attached yourself to the American Wild West mythology that a lone gunfighter can save the day. Do you envision yourself barricaded in your home protecting your guns and your rights? Yeah. Right. Tell me about it when a drone guides a missile into your home or armored camp or whatever. Do you envision yourself as the lone gunman who will change history? Yes, there has been the lone gunman who changed history. How many times was history changed for the good as opposed to the bad? Maybe one of the victims of these many mass shootings would not have been the politician or leader who would change the world in a way you would love? SOMETHING has to change.

I’m not saying we take away all guns. I’m not saying all guns should be registered. That’s a slippery slope, too. But get your fingers out of your ears and start having a conversation that is meaningful. FIGURE IT OUT.

I don’t believe that laws can solve the problem. How many laws are on the books now that are not enforced? Heck some of them are long forgotten.

Laws can punish the extremes, but it doesn’t keep people from killing. A person who has no understanding that all life is precious is not someone who will start believing life is precious because of a law. He also will not stop killing because there’s another law against it. Criminals, killers, do not think like normal, life-respecting people do.

Not a One-level Problem

What we have to do is stop this madness BEFORE it starts. How do we do that? I don’t know. It’s not a one-level problem. Easy access to guns doesn’t make a person devalue life. Playing video games that devalue life and watching programs or movies that devalue life MIGHT be an influence. But none of those factors change everyone who plays those games or watches those programs. So what is the difference? Why would it affect one person that way and not the next person? Is it parenting or lack thereof? (Think about trying to pass a law about that one!)

Let’s stop poisoning conversations with name calling and hate and disrespect. For the children. For our society. For your own safety. Don’t fall for the instant knee-jerk responses. Ignore the name-callers. Invite reasonable discussions. Ask WHY. If someone’s opinion or belief is different ask why do they believe that way? Then, LISTEN. Be empathetic. Ask the other person, would they like to know your why? Then, don’t spout statistics or logic. Talk from your heart.

Why

Assuming you’ve read this far, you’ve heard me rant on things I think are important but now it’s time to hear my why. Why do I care? I love children. I love their innocence, their faith in love and knowledge and magic. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid more children will die. I’m afraid more concert goers will die. And I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that the country I love is dying. It’s becoming a place I don’t want to live. I love the myth that America means freedom and independence for all people regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, or any other thing. I want that country. But I can’t make that happen unless I raise my voice. And I sure as heck cannot make that dream reality by myself. We must work together to make this a country where we all can live.

How do we find out where our society went wrong? More importantly, how do we fix it?

It’ll take smarter people than me to figure that out. But until we figure out how to talk to each other like adults who respect one another, the gun problem, the violence, the senseless deaths, will never go away. And that makes me incredibly sad.

Please note: I will also not tolerate poisonous speech (name calling, disrespect, or excessive bad language). If you can speak your opinion with respect, you are invited to comment. We need to talk about guns and gun control and violence.