Resolutionary

Every year, for probably the whole month of December folks look forward to the coming New Year. And rightly so, na? It’s our collective time of rebirth. The last year, with its good and bad, is put away. We’re starting January with the cleanest slate we can manage and high hopes, if not unreasonable goals.

Fine.

Dandy.

Most people, by far, enter January with the absolutely best intentions for what they consider to be personal improvement. They join the crowds -entire masses of our populations- who are determined (resolute?) to make changes in the coming 365 days. Diets are started. Gym memberships are purchased. Self-help books are cracked open. In other circles japa bead are grabbed, vratas are commenced, pujas performed. And with a sad predictability, before Valentine’s Day much of this is out the window. All but abandoned.

I feel conflicted and certain about this phenomenon.

On one hand, misery loves company and I think everyone’s chances are bettered when others are attempting the same, samely. We get to commiserate and compare notes and encourage each other when we’re striving toward similar goals at the same time. This is what I’m certain of. Here’s an instance where going with the crowd can prove to be beneficial.

Unfortunately, while I often “go with the flow,” I usually prefer to make my own way in Life’s river’s currents and don’t usually need the additional comradery of pursuing a goal with others. With that in mind, imagine my delight when a number of years ago I had someone in my chair at the spa who told me she NEVER begins her resolutions in January. Her preference? Her appearance day.

Everyone has an Appearance Day. Sometimes you’ll hear of this when speaking of a guru or some revered person. Appearance Day basically refers to one’s birthday. And truth be told, your birthday/Appearance Day is your life’s naturally occurring New Year.

So every year in the weeks leading up to her birthday, this client of mine would develop her personal resolutions and start them on her personal New Year. In the years since my conversation with this gal I’ve adopted the practice, too.

Now, every year around the end of July I begin thinking about my year’s end and what I hope to accomplish in the next 365 days of life for me. For me personally a big benefit of this of that my goals are unannounced. I determine my goal. I determine my pace. And if/when I lack the motivation to continue with my resolution, and fall on my face, few know about it. 🙂

One of the best things about celebrating my New Year in August? I get to enjoy watching all of you hit the grind knowing I get to sit back for another eight months.

Happy 2013 to you all.

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Small Town Deity, or God of the Bumpkins

three-wise-menVirtually every year, almost since I was born, my Christmas holiday season involved just about as much travel as it did actual family/fun time. We’re a little spread out, not bad though, and my birth parents divorced when I was very young still, so… this business became the norm for me early on.

Part of this yearly routine involves going to my father’s parents’ home on Christmas Eve where the rest of my extended family from that side would also convene. We had food and lots of it. Always a traditional Christmas show on TV. And, of course, lots of chatting with relatives I don’t see nearly often enough.

This year my beloved and I arrived a little earlier in the evening that usual. My laptop was on the fritz and a cousin had agreed to look at it for me. However, those plans began to fall through and instead we found ourselves at my parents’ home waiting for the time that everyone was due at my grandmother’s. After piddling around for some time we decided to head to my grandmother’s and, as it happened, we beat her to her home.

As we arrived and exited our car, my parents motioned me and Wayne to follow them as they walked up to the front door of my grandmother’s neighbor. This happens to be the home of a good friend of my father and his new wife.

I was instantly uncomfortable. Forgive me for not being okay marching up to, and into, someone’s home unannounced on a holiday. Maybe it was just because this wasn’t the home of my best. Maybe I’m just uptight. It’s hard to say. I was everything but thrilled to have followed my parents right then.  My spouse and I found ourselves awkwardly standing in front of these folks’ television, while brief introductions were made and then a whole lot of nothing happened. Of course, the friends of my parents didn’t act bothered in the least.

All of this aside, something happened that I’ve never seen before in my life. Ever. There wasn’t much room in the house to begin with, but even with a huge lack of free space the missing Christmas tree was conspicuous. These people had no Christmas tree! Aside from the homeless and the Bah-Humbugs, I’m not sure when the last time I encountered people who celebrated Christmas, but had no tree. Care to know why?

The wife is a Christian.

No joke. My parents just about immediately began joking, “Where’s your tree?!?!” The husband, my father’s friend, is the quintessential “small town Indiana man” that people like John Cougar Mellencamp sing about. Not exactly a redneck, not exactly a country man, not exactly educated –but a little of all of them. This man’s new wife went on to explain, very briefly, that she refused to have a Christmas tree because not long ago she’d learned that it was of pagan origination.

I’ll tell you right now, she gave her explanation with no regard to respecting the possibly diverse religious backgrounds of the numerous other people present –typical of the Christian variety. All religious arrogance aside, I should commend her for celebrating a “scriptural” Christmas.

Oh wait –there’s no such thing. Christmas isn’t in the Bible. Jesus’ birth? Yes. The holiday? Nope. Any command to actually celebrate the birth? Nada. Literally everything we know about the holiday, in fact, the holiday no matter what form it takes isn’t scriptural. And as this woman pointed out, the Christmas tree is no exception.

Every year I gag when I hear pitiful whines of evangelicals as they lament the ever-growing “war on Christmas.” As the Christmas season (perhaps) becomes less Christ-centric, it’s just becoming more and more of what it was originally: Not Christian. Truthfully, if the Christians want to re-establish Christmas, they should shift its celebration to April or August when Jesus was most likely, actually, born.

But whatever. Arrogance and all, it was actually – almost – refreshing that this woman was somehow more aware of what actually pertained to her religion… and what didn’t. She’s certainly rare among her breed.

( OM ) Loka – Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

There are three worlds of existence: the physical, the subtle, and the causal, termed Bhuloka, Antarloka, and Shivaloka.

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The physical plane, or Bhuloka, is the world of gross material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses. It is the most limited of the worlds, least permanent, and the most subject to change. The material world is where we have our experiences, manufacture karma and fulfill the desires and duties of life in a physical body. It is in Bhuloka that consciousness is limited, that awareness of the other two worlds is not always remembered.

The subtle plane, or Antarloka, is the mental-emotional sphere that we function in through thought and feeling and reside in fully during sleep and after death. It is the astral world that exists within the physical plane. The astral plane is for the most part exactly duplicated in the physical plane, though it is of a more intense rate of vibration.

The causal plane, or Shivaloka, pulsates at the core of being, deep within the subtle plane. It is the superconscious world where God and highly evolved souls live and can be accessed through yoga and temple worship. The causal plane is the world of light and blessedness, the highest of the heavenly regions, extolled in the scriptures of all faiths.

It is the foundation of existence, the source of visions, the point of conception, the apex of creation, abode of Lord Shiva Himself. The Shivaloka is the natural refuge of all souls.

(The above is taken from Jan/Feb/Mar 2013 issue of Hinduism Today)

Shivohum and Same to You, too.

namaste-sanskirtOne of my favorite publications is a Shaivite magazine, “Hinduism Today.” I’ve had a subscription for years and have purchased a few subscriptions for others as well. Whether one happens to be a vaishnav, shaivite, shakta, or smarta, this magazine is invaluable. It’s been instrumental in my own growth, for sure. One thing I repeatedly adore about it is that, although it is technically sectarian, it differs from most other sects in its openness and inclusiveness. As such, while it’s definitely a Shiva-oriented source, it does great work in covering the broader picture of Hinduism and the Hindu diaspora.

The most recent issue has a focus on Swami Vivekananda, which has been really great for me. His lineage appears to be from the Shakta denomination of Sanatana Dharma, his own guru being a priest for Kali at one of Her temples … in Dakshineshwar, I think. Along with this focus on Vivekananda and all he did for our faith, there are various other articles. One of these deals with the Namaste greeting, and is what this post’s primary focus is meant to be.

Namaste

The article begins in pointing out the differences and immensely varied implications to be found in the Western handshake and the Anjali Mudra (Namaste greeting). For the sake of brevity and keeping focus, from here out I’ll use bullet points to list what I think are the main talking points of the article.

  • The handshake originates in medieval Europe. Weaponry on the person used to be a more common sight, and so was fear. The resultant “accidentally retributive” attacks were sometimes thwarted by showing the other guy your open hand (“I’m unarmed, don’t stab me!!!”). Later, with a little cultural evolution, the open hands were joined upon meeting or passing, and we now have the handshake.
  • The anjali mudra is highly symbolic: “Anj” means to adore, celebrate, honor; the pressing of the hands together symbolizes the bringing together of spirit and matter; the hands coming together symbolizes the self meeting the Self.
  • Three main forms of the Namaste greeting exist: 1) Simple meeting of the hands, vertically at the solar plexus; 2) Same as before, plus the addition of raising the hands until the upper fingertips touch one’s third eye; 3) Same as before, plus the addition of taking the joined hands to a position above the head at the aperture in the crown chakra known as brahma-randhra. These three variations are progressively formal.
  •  The handshake is an outwardly conquering gesture. It hints at Western man’s desire for conquering and acquiring. An overly strong handshake can be meant for purposes of intimidation, and a too-weak handshake is also very telling.
  • Western culture is summed up in the handshake: reaching out horizontally to greet another; we reveal our humanity; we convey how strong we are, how nervous, how aggressive or how passive. Namaste reaches in vertically to acknowledge that, in truth, there is no “other.”
  • It’s more civilized to Namaste instead of shaking hands. Popes never shake hands. Kings never shake hands. Even mothers don’t shake hands with their own children. Namaste is cosmically different: Kings do namaste, Satgurus namaste, mothers namaste their own families, we all namaste before God, a holy man, or a holy place. The namaste gesture indicates our inner valuing of the sacredness of all. Namaste is also more practical: A politician or performer can greet fifty-thousand people with one Namaste and the honor can be returned.
  • The gesture has a subtle effect on the aura and nerve system. The nerve currents of the body converge in the feet, the solar plexus and the hands. To balance this energy, and prevent its loss from the body, yogis and meditators sit cross-legged and bring their hands together. The anjali mudra is a simple yogic asana.
  • An increasing number of celebrities and others around crowds are adopting the Namaste greeting as a polite means of avoiding the transmission of contact diseases. The Namaste greeting has become a veritable icon of Indianness, although an ever-increasing number of non-Indians are also using the greeting.

I’m not sure that all of these points do justice to the practicality, intuition, and value that the Namaste greeting holds versus the handshake. Hopefully these points, as highlighted from the article, hint at some of this.

Om Shanti

752

Life is about learning. No? From the lowest level of conscious life on this planet, learning is a must – and it’s a blessing. In life forms that are “below” the human level, consciousness of differing degrees is found. And, in many cases in direct proportion to the degree of consciousness, there are degrees of learning capability.

In virtually every sub-human existence, pain in some form is an absolutely necessary part of the learning process. 12-stepping addicts everywhere would agree that this is true in every instance, never mind sub-humans. Most of the animal kingdom operates on a majority instinct level, and learning happens as a matter of survival for the most part -either to avoid pain altogether, or to lessen current pain. When learning for survival provides an organism (or a population of organisms) enough of an “edge” in its existence, sometimes consciousness begins to expand. I have a feeling that this is a foundational element of nature’s evolution, and is also a huge part of why evolution is, typically and literally, painfully slow. In “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle (a book everyone should read, at least once) this “blossoming” of consciousness was first evident in flowers. His words on this, which I think I recall coming early in the book, are very eloquent and powerful, and enlightening. (Through his own dedicated effort, Tolle is certainly a modern living Jnana Yogi. Believe it.) There are many sub-human forms of life on Earth that don’t learn ONLY in this way. Many mammals and some bird species (among an entire host of other life forms) are known to have “deeper” components to their lives. These components point to a level of consciousness much closer to that of humans, although these beings are still primarily governed by instictiveness.

Human life, on the other hand, has allowed its animalistic components to atrophy a bit in favor of a more developed consciousness. An unfortunate aspect of this trade is a simultaneous increase in ego, but that’s for another post. One of the biggest benefits of this swap, however, is the developed capacity for humans to learn without the aforementioned pain so often necessary for other animals. In truth, there are a number of animal species who have been discovered to have this capacity, too, but only in humans is this particular evolution of consciousness so well-developed and potentially (depending on the human individual) so finely tuned. Here, precisely, is where human consciousness has one of the greatest gifts. We can learn by the usual and common method of pain, but that mustn’t be the only way we learn. Indeed, we’re one of the only animals on the planet who are able to learn solely by observation, and we’re certainly the only organism on the planet to be able to learn so thoroughly in this way.

At this point, I’m recalling a common saying among my Nichiren Buddhist friends. I think it comes from the Daishonen’s sayings somewhere, but the idea is that through chanting we’re able to tap into “Myoho,”  and transmute our karmas into something more, thus elevating our life state. I’ve known these great and optimistic humanists to be fond of speaking about “turning poison into medicine.” To me, this points at even deeper component to the human existence. We’re not only in control of our learning, but we’re responsible for it.

As we find ourselves in the middle of the yearly holiday season, many of us would do well to take a look at our “poisons” and search how we might turn them into medicines for our betterment. A poison might be defined, superficially, as anything that seems to rob us of happiness. Anyone who’s followed my writing at all, might be aware of how deeply I adore my parents. For me personally, few things in my current existence are likely to be as painful (…potentially poisonous…) as the eventual death of either of my parents. Certainly, I anticipate very few things with as much dread and immense pre-emptive sorrow as either of these two events.

With this in mind, my heart and thoughts go out to anyone who’s lost a parent, and faced such (potential) poison. Sadly, I’m able to list a number of acquaintances who fall into this group, from this year alone. For this post, and for sake of a wonderful example, I’d like to mention someone who is perhaps surprisingly, and definitely increasingly dear to me. And that’s my mom’s brother’s wife, Wendy. What I know about Wendy tells me that she’s a truly great human. Without spilling everything about her, I can surely say that she loves her family and friends and is loyal to them. She works hard in her career, like so many others. She does her best to enjoy life. And she fights her battles as best she’s able and keeps moving, knowing she has to be strong for the next. One of these battles, recently, was the loss of her own mother.

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Three days from now will be Wendy’s first Christmas holiday without her mother. Without a doubt this season will be a trying time for her. Certainly, Wendy has experienced ups and downs in her time managing her grief. You can find her story about the poison she faced here.

One thing I’ve noticed is that she’s consistently able to “turn poison into medicine.” She could easily be paralyzed by her loss. I know I would be. She didn’t have much time at all to prepare for the poison she was about to face. Instead, she continues moving forward. She still works. She still loves her family and friends. And she’s investing more of her time in pruning her internal landscape in very practical and hopefully effective ways, which will be the surest sign that the poison she’s experienced has been transmuted into very powerful medicine.

As humans, we don’t need pain to learn. Ideally, we’d be gifted with both the foresight and the time to prepare and learn on our own so that the Universe and our karmas don’t have to facilitate this learning for us. For those of us, like Wendy, who aren’t allotted ample time for preparing for what we don’t want to come, it’s my hope that we can at least enter into such unfortunate experiences with a fully human awareness and, like Wendy, with the capacity to take that experience and turn its poison into our medicine.

As this year and holiday season comes to a close, my prayer is that your awareness and mine will expand and cause our hearts to swell. Realize what an incredible boon you have, being born a human. What an immense opportunity has been awarded to you to assume the responsibility for your own growth. Face the poison in your life, and let the divine with you change it into medicine for your betterment and healing.

In the coming year, all the grace that is mine to give I gladly forward on to you.

Namaste

The Knowers of Day and Night

One of Hinduism’s characteristics that I adore most is its logic and reason, and inherent scientific nature. Of all the many world religions, dharmic paths are most often known for this. (Of course, there’s plenty of superstition and other nonsense, but that’s mostly cultural baggage and has little to do with the actual religion.)

Every year around this time, I hear people wonder aloud, “Where’d the year go?!” The year didn’t actually go anywhere, of course, and it certainly didn’t go anywhere any faster than it would normally. Still, many people think more about time during this season than in others. We’re wondering how the year managed to slip away, assessing our achievements during the last 365 days, and formulating plans for the next 365.

Invariably, this kind of thought patterning will pull one into some kind of disappointment. In the Western, linear, concept of time there are no second chances. You can, in theory, only go forward or backwards. And since going back into time has yet to be mastered by the average human, moving on is the only actual option. Thus, if you missed the mark -you’re stuck, having missed the mark. What’s done is done.

In Hinduism, though, time is cyclical. In connection with Karma, what goes around literally comes back around. This is a terrific source of hope for Hindus. Try your best right now, so as to avoid the need for repetition (aka, achieve moksha), but whatever deficit you end with, you simply try your best again to compensate for in the next life.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 (shloka 17, I think), it’s explained, “Sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh yatrim yuga-sahasrantam te’ho-ratra-vido janah” or “Those who know Brahma’s day which comprises the duration of four billion three hundred and twenty million years and his night also the duration of four billion three hundred and twenty million years are knowers of day and night.”

As with all Hindu scripture, there are multiple levels of meaning here. All aspiring yogis/yoginis hope to be a “Knower of Day and Night.” Asato ma sat gamaya, right? At any rate, most people either aren’t familiar with the Hindu time structure or don’t understand it well. Allow me to offer some clarification.

In Hinduism, time (kala) is sometimes personified as a god, which is known to be virtually unstoppable and is worshipped with much devotion. As I mentioned before, Hindu time is cyclical: perpetually stopping where it starts and starting where it stops. The origination of Time is God, and since God is The Cause for all else, Time is seen as a manifestation of God and essentially persists without beginning or end.

“The creation of each universe presupposes the destruction of a former one. Its span of life is equal in length to its period of “death.” These periods are as long as ‘the time it would take to annihilate a mountain of granite, but touching it with a piece of cotton, once every hundred years.'” -Vitsaxis

Beyond this circular speak, though, time is quite easily analyzed and measured, and is used as a means for measuring age and progression. And the Hindu conception of time here, from a more scientific perspective, is about as accurate and reasonable as you’re likely to find within any actual religious path. Below I’m including the basic Hindu break-down of time for any one cycle of creation.

“The term (duration) of every universe, a ‘time-cycle,’ is divided into four periods which are called Yugas. During the first, and by far the longest period, the Krta Yuga, also called Satya Yuga, the divine moral order rules unchallenged. During the second, which lasts three-quarters of the length of the first and is known as Treta Yuga, the divine order for the first time begins to be shaken. During the third, which lasts only half as long as the original, and is known as Dvapara Yuga, the situation becomes dangerously worse. Finally during the fourth, the Kali Yuga, …which is to last a quarter as long as the first, the world falls so low from the divine order that it becomes ripe for destruction so that a new order may take its place.

These four Yugas, taken as a whole, form one Mahayuga. A thousand Mahayugas form a Kalpa or ‘one day of Brahma.’ Finally, every Kalpa is divided into fourteen periods called Manvantaras, each one of which begins with a flood. According to Hindu writ, we are living in the seventh Manvantara of the present Kalpa.” -Vitsaxis

With so much (cyclical) time on our hands, let’s see each new and passing minute as our opportunity -not as the opportunity we may have wasted and now look back on. In a universe where everything ebbs and flows, comes and goes … and comes back again, there is no waste. No missed chances. Look into the new year knowing that, in some form or another, what’s gone away will return. Embrace your experiences. You’ve literally earned them. And when each experience meets you where you are, create results that are an improvement from before.

Om Shanti

God on a treadmill

There are, rather sporadically, these odd experiences I have. While it’s a horrible disservice to describe it in this way, to keep it short and sweet : The back of my head opens wide, my sense of self/being expands like you wouldn’t believe, and I literally see stars (aka outer space) and I “feel” what I perceive to be everywhere and everything. There are two places this has happened: in my car and on the treadmill at the gym. Unfortunately, this creates a situation that is ridiculously “pro” my injury or death. Fortunately, I retain much awareness of the Dhrishti/Yeshua/Joshua that you all know – at least enough of that awareness to have been able to pull my car over or stop running on the treadmill.

This experience has almost happened twice in the last three days -both times on the treadmill. Both times I felt it coming on, which isn’t usual. Both times, I had been paying attention to one of the wall-mounted flat screens showing news/developments of the recent elementary school tragedy. (For the record, I’m sure many of you are about to diagnose me as epileptic or something. Please understand that what I’ve described above is NOT that.)

Anyone who knows me really well, would likely know how almost desperate I am for fatherhood. Truth be told, it’s increasingly unlikely to ever happen, and this is proving to be one pretty large pill to swallow. But whatever. Here’s the really psycho thing: I already have children. One or two I think, I’m not sure. I don’t know exactly how old they are, but I know they’re past infancy, but still pretty young. I think of them often enough, but in a fairly controlled manner because I’m easily overcome by the immense parental affection I feel. Oh yeah… They reside in my heart. I swear I could almost name them. They feel THAT intense within me. When I feel particularly loony and perhaps a touch nostalgic, I’ll consider these “children” and also my own parents and how I would do everything for my children that my parents did for my brothers and me.

And you know what? Maybe I don’t have kids in my heart. Maybe this immensely powerful “thing” within me is affection I have for my parents and my desire to be as kick-ass as they are. I’m aware that I have received, and continue to receive, so much more than I deserve through the force in my life that my parents have been … perhaps this is simply a natural ebb and flow… I’m feeling a desire to give back that which has made my life everything it is: my experience with parenthood.

Oh gods, I’m a basket case.

Anyroad (as my bhai, Forrest, is fond of saying), all of that was meant to lead into other nonsense, which I’ll try to get to right now.

So I’m running my legs off, the news shows the faces of the very young lives that were ended, and suddenly God shows up on the treadmill with me. <sigh> Even remembering this brings a too-big lump into my throat. I really don’t have words for how I feel about this particular shooting. What I do have words for is the stupid American idea that gun ownership is the only way to be safe and because it’s a Right, must be exercised in all possible ways.

Allow me to just say: It might be your right to have 27 children, and no one can tell you you’re not allowed to. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart of reasonable to do so. People, it’s the same with guns. A Facebook friend of mine, recently posted a pretty lengthy status update, which I thought to share with you dear readers. I’ll admit that what I’m sharing here is a direct quote, but with parts omitted. I promise I havent sewn any sentence fragments together to support my ideas, but some of what she said hollers back to our own days as children, and I found some of that to be less applicable. (I’ve taken a personal vow that, for as long as I continue to age, I’ll never refer back to my youth as anything golden or sublime or “the way things ought to be,” and instead will do my best to accept and understand each successive generation for its own inherent value and capability to grow into the times.)

So, without further delay, read the following quotations. Read them with your eyes.

“When I was in school, all we feared, were tornadoes.  And, we were prepared, we practiced crouching in hallways, closets, and bathrooms with our biggest textbooks over our brainstem.  We were prepared. Never, ever, ever did the thought of a human wielding a gun barging into our school and hunting us down, never did that thought cross our minds.

“Something has changed, something in our society, that is turning us against each other.

“Gun Laws, yes they need changed.  But not because of Newtown, Connecticut, but also because of Columbine, because of Virginia Tech, because of the mall in Portland, Oregon, because of Aurora, Colorado.  Because of all of the mass shootings that are unfortunately defining this century.

“I don’t deny any human the right to own a firearm, but let’s look at regulation.  Why should a citizen be able to own higher powered weapons than the average police officer carries with them?  What is an officer responding to an emergency call able to do when they are face to face with semi automatic weapons and huge caches of ammunition?  The laws need to restrict one is able to own.  These weapons that discharge so quickly don’t give an armed officer a chance to help the victims.

“Also, the process for firearm ownership needs to change.  In order to adopt a child, or a pet, there are forms, documents, and even home visits.  Background checks and a waiting period.  These steps need to occur, plus multiple communications between the buyer and the seller, and possibly even psychological exams.  Lets make firearms accessible only with a file of information compiled to help understand the person whom is shopping.  Also, I think there needs to be ways to ensure firearm buyers have locked cabinets, to cut down on the stealing of weapons.  We need to hold the same responsibility for having a weapon, it may not be a human or animal, but it has the capability to take the life of a living being, and needs to be regulated.

“How to regulate, is the hardest question.  But, it is also the most obvious answer.  How do we stop these many mass killings?  KNOW the people whom are buying guns, large amounts of ammo, and other weaponry.

“In addition, health care NEEDS to be accessible for all.  We need mental health care to be as important as a yearly check up with your physician.  If every person had a yearly or twice yearly appointment for a mental health evaluation, along with their other annual appointments, possibly some of the issues that hide beneath the surface could be found sooner, and helped before they become the hot boiling lava that spills out into the world as anger, pain, and hurting others.  If we all were evaluated once or twice a year the stigma would be removed from mental health care, we would all seek the help we need once and again, and all live healthier lives.

“This event isn’t the ONLY reason to look at firearm regulation, mental health care accessibility, and societal norms… but let’s make it the LAST reason. Let’s find ways to help those whom hurt inside, those who hide anger and fear, those who pose danger to themselves or others.  Let’s find a way to help the individuals, and prevent the loss of another innocent life.”

To be clear, I’m about as against guns as a person could be. I realize that my way isn’t the only valid way, but we’re no longer ruled in the same way that the Wild West was and guns, like some heavier drugs, give people lots of notions and confidence that aren’t natural or realistic. I have my own hesitations in life, but I refuse to fill my own heart with fear-based nonsense and then create for myself a false sense of some kind of safety net.

What’re your thoughts on this? Do tell.