Speaking Out About Parkland – “Making Sense of Life” Special Edition

Guns in America

We have a problem in America. In fact, of all the countries in the world, the United States has the most pronounced evidence of this situation. And, yes, it involves guns, but that’s not the complete problem, nor is banning all guns tomorrow the perfect solution.

First, our children and the adults dedicated to educating and protecting them are being repeatedly, savagely, and willingly gunned down with malice, forethought, and intricate planning. And, second, as a society, Americans have been complacent in our actions to prevent the re-occurrence of recent events.

This writing is not to oppose guns. I hold a unique position in life which most of my readers do not:  I have shot guns and know how to use one; and, I have been shot in the face during a mugging. But this is not about my experience or about outlawing anyone’s constitutional right to own a firearm.

There are two reasons for my message today, and both come via my local high school of which my husband, Kevin, is a department head and educator.

First, one of Kevin’s former students wrote this poignant thought:

According to our Congress, the AR-15 that was used to kill 17 people (to date) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has a “constitutional right” to exist. That same Congress, however, has also made it clear that health care for the injured, as well as mental health care for the survivors, their friends, and their families is a “privilege.”

It doesn’t take a high degree of education to understand the disparity and how utterly ludicrous this is.

Second, there is a suggestion that could be implemented in your local schools that could reduce or eliminate more murders the next time this happens. (I’m not being pessimistic here. Without a radical change, which doesn’t seem likely in the immediate future, tragedies like this will continue.)

Our local high school has a very specific protocol for fire alarms. Drills are announced in advance; teachers, administrators, students, staff, and parents know the day and the time of all scheduled drills. If an unscheduled fire alarm goes off, the principal makes an announcement immediately over the loud speakers indicating that there is an emergency requiring evacuation as instructed. Without that announcement, each class room is locked by the instructors, window shades drawn, and students gathered safely.

People often ask, What can I do? Knowing these procedures means you CAN do something. Contact the school districts in your area. Find out what procedures they have in place in such circumstances. If guidelines and protocol don’t exist, work to make sure you get them designed and implemented.

This blog and my work continue to be about “Making Sense of Life.” In this regard, no one can make the available to or used by the general public. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States speaks clearly about the right to bear arms, and I don’t dispute that. But, nowhere in that document does it indicate citizens have a right to own and use weapons of mass destruction. The AR-15 is designed to be just that:  A weapon of mass destruction of human life.

Our President, our Vice President, and the many members of Congress whose campaigns are well-funded by the National Rifle Association would like us to believe this most recent shooting and others like it must be stopped by addressing mental health issues. This is utter nonsense, unfounded in its assertion, cannot be backed up with reliable research or facts, and speaks to just how desperate our current government is to hold onto its self-serving, anti-democratic, and privileged positions.

If you don’t know who Ben Dickmann is, you might want to click on the link below. “He's a ‘responsible, highly trained gun owner,’ [who] doesn't see a need for the average person to own the powerful firearm [referring to his AR-57, a variant of the AR-15].” Click here to see what his background is, why that’s significant to the most recent shooting, what he’s done, and how others can follow suit.

Speak out. Dialogue with others. Act, instead of reacting. Don’t wait for leaders. We must be the leaders we seek.

Terry Drew Karanen © 2018

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

Pick a Side!

Are You Your Labels?

How are you personally dealing with the polarization going on in the world? Have you noticed how if we are for one thing that we are often expected to be against something else?

There are those who still believe we live in a black/white, gay/straight, right/wrong, yes/no world. The world has never been that way, although the ideal does give one a false sense of security. It a sign of longing for a past that never really existed:  Play by the rules and you are guaranteed to succeed.

The problem with that thinking is nothing is guaranteed. The only constant in the universe is change. And, humans are a species of contradictions.

Being pro-life doesn’t necessarily mean one is totally against abortion in all cases. Being a feminist doesn’t mean one hates men. We love to categorize people for our convenience and may even be proud of the labels we’ve given ourselves. But social media and life in general in the twenty-first century have opened up our private lives to public record. If we are talking the talk, but not walking the way, eventually someone is going to call us out for it.

Conservative and liberals can embrace parts of the opposing ideology when it suits them. Several years ago one of the Popes lamented the “cafeteria Catholicism” practice by Americans – in other words, taking from the religion what works for them personally instead of embracing everything, comfortable or not. But such an approach to religion has been around since religion began; only we just talk more about it now.

We are frequently much different in our thinking and how we live our lives than what other people assume. It comes down to judgment, primarily judgment of others. However, it also speaks to how, when, and what we express on issues currently unfolding in our lives.

There is, however, a way around all of this:  Communication. By listening to understand, instead of listening only for the opportunity to criticize an opposing viewpoint, we open the door to dialog. We might even stand to learn something in the process, not only about an issue, but about ourselves as well.

Would you be willing, starting today, to put aside your preconceived notions the next time you hear something you immediately judge as outrageous, unbelievable, or distasteful? Could we all seek to understand more and criticize less?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

They Aren’t Going to Like This

Can You Stand Up to Criticism?

Are you feeling more like a leader in life? In my blog two weeks ago I opened a conversation that we ought to have with ourselves:  Am I willing to be a leader? How’s that going for you?

There’s a truly inspirational speaker who I very much enjoy hearing, particularly because he challenges me to be a better, stronger, and more focused leader. Seth Godin is a remarkable author and several books and champion of new ideas. This week I’m sharing a quote from his book, “Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us.”

So the challenge, as you contemplate your next opportunity to be boring or remarkable, is to answer these two questions:  “If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball bat, or lose important friendships?” If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing.

Leadership, like so many other qualities, begins within our own consciousness. We can’t be leaders in the world, in our communities, or in our families if we can’t lead ourselves. What does that look like?

It means that we must be willing to succeed. Does that sound like a no-brainer? It isn’t. Do you know why people fail at projects, ideas, and even relationships? It isn’t the fear of failure.

It’s the fear of success.

Why would we fear success? We fear success because it’s something that may have eluded us for years. We all know failure. We know what it feels like not to get ahead, to be single when we’d like to find a mate, to have a no-where job, or be unable to balance the checkbook. The enticement of failure is that it’s familiar. Our egos love the familiar because they know how to react from our history.

Change scares the crap out of our ego, even if it’s a good thing! Thomas Troward wrote that principle is not bound by precedent. In other words, just because something’s always worked out one way in the past doesn’t mean it has to be that way in the future. The criticism that Godin wrote about can come from within us as well as from others. It’s up to us to go for it, whatever “it” is, and be willing to accept the good that comes from our success.

Consider this week how you might be allowing actual, perceived, or expected criticism to stop you from leading the life you want. The universe will conspire for our good – but we have to open our consciousness to accept those blessings. Go for it!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

How DARE You Bring That Up!

A World Without Privacy

Have you ever posted a comment on social media, and then have it come back to bite you in the ass?

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt … and the bite marks, which in one case is still healing.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone I know that, if asked, wouldn’t respond with a roll of the eyes, a very deep sigh, or by throwing their hands up in the air. It’s one thing to misspeak, or say something out of a brief moment of anger or upset directly to another person. It’s a completely different ballgame when what we say can literally fly around the world in a manner of minutes … or seconds.

I “friended” my mother on Facebook® some time ago – if you follow my personal or professional pages you’ve probably found her comments are quite “insightful” at times. She’s expressed horror at my swearing and once pretty much told everyone I was lying about something. (She understood later, however, that this wasn’t the case, although my perspective on the given topic and hers were miles apart.

I was intrigued by one of her posts (on her FB page, not mine), about how people should keep their profanity to their private conversations at home, not out in public. I took exception to this and for this reason.

First, in the world of social media there is no privacy; so, mean what you say online or in print (and in person) and standby your convictions. I do, however, strongly believe that social media is not necessarily the place to work out some ideas or how we feel on any number of given subjects. Neither do I recommend posting when one is intoxicated or otherwise “loose as a goose,” nor when one is completed and totally pissed off at someone else. Not that I, personally, have ever done this, but I’ve heard it’s highly suggested not to do this by those in the know.

Ahem.

Above and beyond the lack of privacy, however, this issue is part of a much larger conversation about how we present ourselves, both privately and to the world. Granted, we are going to act differently in some ways with friends as opposed to business colleagues or strangers. But none of our actions or words should be diametrically opposed to the essence of who we are as a person.

As I told my mother, a faithful, practicing Christian who doesn’t make a habit of swearing no matter where she is, Shouldn't true Christians be acceptable to their God 24/7/365, and not just when others are watching? And for that matter, shouldn’t we all be consistent in our thoughts, words and actions?

I don’t believe in a judgmental God/Goddess or Higher Power. I believe in a user-friendly universe that is set up to conspire for our good. The universe I experience is one that only says “Yes!” to my requests. When my life isn’t the way I like it it’s not a God/Goddess punishing me; rather, it’s that I’m saying I expect something, but then am not willing to do what it takes to allow that to happen. In other words, I want change without changing.

News flash:  That doesn’t work.

If you believe in a God that sees everything you’re doing, then remember that in the privacy of your bedroom as well as when you’re screaming crap in CAPITALS on your social media. Either way, it’s a great lesson in who we want to be if we remember that nothing we think is private really is anymore.

Chew on that one.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.