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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My State of the Nation Address…

Yesterday, I read about the shooting at an Arkansas college, and this morning, I just saw where a little 8-year old boy was at a gun show with his dad, along with an instructor. Christopher Bizilj was allowed to fire an Uzi, and when he lost control, he shot himself in the head and died. It’s a miracle no one else died as well. My issue isn’t with the father or the instructor, and not even with Christopher. We’re fascinated with guns, all of us, or shows like CSI and The Unit wouldn’t so consistently be among Nielsen’s top rated. I’m not a Charlton Heston hater, and I’m not opposed to Americans being entitled to owning guns. Clearly, there’s no merit to the ownership of guns equating to violence. In Canada, until about two years ago, they owned more handguns per person than the U.S., yet their crime rate was profoundly lower than ours. And they’ve had one school shooting to date. One. We’ve had literally thousands now, and it escalates to the point that we barely notice them. There have been over twenty already this year. Isolated incidents, maybe only one person shot, maybe no one hurt, just shots fired. The point is, people can own guns. But what purpose do these automatic weapons serve?

I’ve fired an AK-47 while doing research for a novel. Captain Tom Dresner took me shooting, let me shoot it as a semi- then as a fully automatic. It’s legal, and it’s a rush. But the only place I ever see a use for these weapons is in the military. Christopher Bizilj was not in the military. People who go to gun shows aren’t arming themselves to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Those who end up with these guns, statistically, are gangs and militia groups. So as manufacturers crank them out, they have to know that these weapons are designed for illegal activity, unless they have a contract with the government.

At some point in this country, we’re going to stop dead in our tracks and think, my god, what has happened to us. If you haven’t already. With the economy in its worst state since World War II, us fighting a war most of us don’t even think about during our day-to-day, they only add to crime, drugs, gangs, and unemployment completely out of control. The media uses fear mongering to keep us worried, afraid, but for all the wrong reasons. We should be afraid of losing ourselves, because it’s happening before our very eyes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Inspired on my B'day

A friend in class last night talked about a writer she'd seen in Atlanta...and that speaker gave a talk about writing as a gas, liquid, and solid. Wow, did that get my brain going.

The idea being: when we have ideas, they're like gas. We can barely see them, they're with us, but vapor-like and have no shape. When we begin writing, they're shapeless, like water. We can put them in different containers (short stories, novels, romance, mystery, etc.) But it is still forming, lacks anything we can quite hold onto. Then it becomes a solid, a complete piece that we can look at, pick up, and begin to wonder what it will take to chisel it to a polished piece... This reminds us that even when we think we're finished, there is always polishing to do.

It begs the question: How many times do I let the gas slip through my fingers and not get it to the liquid stage, much less the solid?

So why am I blogging when there are gases out there just waiting, aspiring to be water?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Difficult Times

The National Book Festival had a different flavor this year, primarily because DC was centered on the bailout talks. Visiting the Holocaust Museum impacted me much as last year’s trip to the Vietnam Memorial did. I think I carried away a different feeling because of the state of our economy.

Republican vs. Democrat aside, we’re in difficult times now, and we run the risk of repeating the 1930s. And then it begs the question – what role did the world’s economic weakness play in Hitler’s rise to power? The Holocaust is a horrific, singular event that is still a black mark on our world’s history, but it isn’t unique in its genocidal scope. Rwanda, Bosnia, and most recently Darfur…it still happens, so perhaps the state of the world is irrelevant. Yet our weakness, being a nation hated by so many others, makes it – and us – vulnerable. It should frighten us. All of it should frighten us. We’re down, and the rest of the world has steel-toed boots. We need to unite, pass the bailout, or we’ll realize we’re nowhere near the bottom yet.

We don’t like the role of being the world’s police, and when we can’t take care of business at home, we can’t even pretend to play it. What then? Darfur needs help, but until we clean up the mess in our own house, it’s hard to see beyond our own front yard.