Begin Within

Do you hear that? The silence.
Do you see that? The dark.
Those glances, so scolding.
Cold whispers leave marks.

Do I know you? No name.
Have I wronged you? You reach.
All I ask is conversation and
practice what you preach.

Divisions bleed existence
Is this what you seek?
Life drained from society
Hatred on a constant leak.

You matter. I matter.
We fight while they fear.
Constant anger and confusions
As nighttime draws near.

Words unheard.
Do you hear me?
Protest and hashtags.
Do you see?

Where to start, to begin?
Look inside.
Begin within.

#BeginWithin
#BeTheChange

By: Tracy Solomon

Repost from February 2013- Is there a solution to gun violence? 

Simply asking that question will not resolve anything but facing and making adequate and lasting changes can lead to actually saving lives.

Most recently, the focus from the media, political leaders, gun rights activists and many others have not been focused on long term needs or solutions but rather on short term story lines, misleading voters and pushing policies as well as allowing misunderstandings which have led to surges in firearm sales.

The story of the century would be a day without a death from gun violence or even more so, violent crime. Sound impossible? We are driven to think that way.

The sales increase of armed weapons proves this. There are many statistics on the amount of weapons in the U.S and the surge in sales but the fact is many guns aren’t registered. However, the increase in background checks shows the surge in sales and a lot is due to the speculation of what may change with new laws or regulations.

Although a majority of gun owners agree with the idea of stronger background checks, many loopholes in laws already in affect allow around 40% of sales to go through without background checks. If these issues were dealt with, would that resolve the problems at hand? No.

The majority of gun owners were well intentioned weapon purchasers. It was never their plan
to allow the weapon to get into the wrong hands, use the weapon in any way other than the
way it was first intended and certainly to abide by all laws when purchasing their weapon,
ammunition or laws pertaining to either.

This part is simple. At least it should be.

The 2nd Amendment is brought up in a great deal of discussions, arguments and as much as it is a part of this topic, it is also a big part of misguided discussions and a detour from what should be brought to the table in this matter. 

There is very little brought up about our responsibilities for our rights and freedoms and the effects of change over time. You see, it is clear today the person next door, at the office, in the church or at school may be planning something nobody could have imagined or possibly be the victim of the next violent crime. How are we to know? How can society better prepare or better prevent more deaths from these types of crimes?

Does it help when our congress continuously makes every effort to show their unwillingness to work together, compromise or communicate to efficiently get things done for those who elect them?

Does it help when people are looking for an end to gun violence in some way and a leadingorganization like the NRA comes out and takes no responsibility but instead points their finger at others? Why not accept some responsibility and work together? It is clear many NRA members do not agree with the NRA’s standing.

Does it help when our society is flooded with violence in its gaming and entertainment industry?

Do attacks on Facebook, Twitter and many of the Social Media websites help at all?

It has been made very clear bullying leads to aggressive behavior, violent crime and yes, massive shootings and often ends in suicide. So why add to that? Why attack those speaking out against violent crime and gun violence?

Does any of this help? Obviously not!

A crime very rarely starts at the moment of the attack, shooting, kidnapping, “random” event,
or murder/suicide. Our society has become self-centered and comfortable with shrugging of responsibility, passing the buck and expecting someone else to fix the issue. That is the issue. Our rights and freedoms should never cause others to live in fear. That is not freedom.

The reason gun violence is more an issue of violent crime is because that is what most often leads to it.

Life is very fast paced, more so now as many people must multi-task, never taking time to slow
down. As our economic tensions are high in the U.S., many people are financially over burdened. 

Personal lives, finances, work conditions, health conditions and the constant feed of
information can leave many people at a constant breaking point.

Emotionally, there are many struggling from childhood through adulthood, just to fit in or keep their private life out of the public eye in fear of rejection.

There is a major ongoing need to unwind in a society that is less willing and sometimes unable to allow that to happen.

As much as someone may be a responsible gun PURCHASER, there are many changing and unknown factors which come into lives leaving many gun owners unaware of how dangerous having a readily available weapon may have become. So many think nothing will ever happen to them to take them to the breaking point but the news tells the other side of that story. Nobody can be foolish enough to say something could never happen to them. That is someone that shouldn’t own a gun.

The only way to actually make our society safer is for everyone to take responsibility for our part. We ALL have a part. The idea of more guns and less regulation is not the answer. That breeds fear and fear breeds crime. This is not one side or the other, a political rival or even a statement for or against gun control.

It will take more than gun control, gun laws or regulations to see this through but isn’t this worth it? Violent crime death does not see race, economic status, neighborhood, political party, age or anything. That has been very evident as we have watched recent deaths in just this year alone.

Understand, this is more than gun violence. It starts before someone picks up a gun so everyone is part of this solution.

NRA, that includes gun control and regulations. Just because it starts before someone picks up a gun doesn’t mean a weapon should be laying there for the wrong person nor should any weapon be there that can commit mass murder because it was available.

We all need to step up.

Is There A Solution To Gun Violence?

Simply asking that question will not resolve anything but facing and making adequate and lasting changes can lead to actually saving lives.

Most recently, the focus from the media, political leaders, gun rights activists and many others have not been focused on long-term needs or solutions but rather on short-term story lines, misleading voters and pushing policies as well as allowing misunderstandings which have led to surges in firearm sales.

The story of the century would be a day without a death from gun violence or even more so, violent crime.
Sound impossible? We are driven to think that way.

Read Full Article on EzKool.com

When will massacres matter enough to cause change?

“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.” President Obama in statement made following the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre killing 20 children and 6 adults in the school.

Where do Americans stand on gun laws? Gun control?

In a pew poll taken after the assassination attempt on Congresswomen Gabriella “Gabby” Giffords, the country was divided. 49% said it was “more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns” and 46% said it was “more important to control gun ownership.”

After the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 76% said, “There should be some restriction on owning guns,” according to a CNN/ORC poll.

At present time, roughly half of American states allow gun owners to carry their weapon openly into public places.

Also, making more news recently is the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law really came into the public eye during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

There are a host of other states with very similar laws.

Florida, as well as others in this list do not have a “duty to retreat” clause which means if you can get away without harm or deadly force but shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. Most of the states with the “Stand Your Ground” law do not have the “duty to retreat” clause. Many of these laws are written in a vague way leaving the law to be used as a “blanket way out” for many shootings.

These laws were often introduced as a way to help “victims” in cases such as domestic violence where victims often felt blocked and unable to flee or ended up shooting their attackers (which happened to be their domestic partner) and found it near impossible to defend themselves in court. When was it okay to kill someone under your own roof?

But, the law has left it open for arguments leading escalating, turning into assaults and then murder to be defended under the “Stand Your Ground” law. What would have been different if a person hadn’t had a firearm on them? What if they didn’t feel it was okay to cry “self-defense” in what would typically end up in an assault and battery case but instead, someone is dead. Has the law been a positive or a negative? Who has it actually helped more?

Guns and politics have become so entwined as the NRA has become more involved through the years with politics, legislation and politicians.

The NRA runs ads campaigning for those who promote their cause and against those standing in the way of their proposed changes in existing laws or future goals.

By funding politicians, their campaigns and having their own people in Washington, the NRA is assured of having a way to get current policies changed or new legislation passed, changed or set aside. The problem is much of this happens without knowledge of the general public both through state government and federal government.

NRA does not run the US government and does not make the choices for what is good for America. That is done through the voters. We vote who we want at both the state level and the national level. Are we listening to what these politicians are standing for and against? Who is supporting them and funding their campaigns? What are their intentions?

Ask yourself why the NRA has had nothing to say since this most recent massacre? Statements have come out from all over the world. World leaders are offering condolences. Many actors and actresses are coming forward and saying things should be done with violence in movies and TV may need to be looked at. Networks rearranged TV schedules following the massacre due to programming that may have been viewed as showing things in bad taste.

Sunday morning talk shows have done numerous interviews and Meet the Press asked any of 31 pro-gun senators to appear but none responded. Silence speaks volumes.

Using the words “gun control” is beginning to sound UN-American. I think doing nothing as we are seeing more massacres, people crying in disbelief as their loved ones are being identified, going through autopsies and realizing their last conversation was their LAST conversation… that is UN-American.

Personally, I can’t participate in ignoring an issue that is continuously being swept under the rug by groups that argue for their freedoms while others are losing their loved ones, their lives and their future or their sense of security. What about their freedom, our freedom?

Weapons used for hunting and sporting do not call for assault weapons or weapons with large magazines that can gun down numerous people (or animals) in just seconds or minutes.

Many assault weapons are not for either of these uses and are only used to promote keeping an argument going instead of coming to an agreement.

Responsible and legitimate gun owners, politicians and people across America need to give pause to this, put politics aside and be able to really look at this very serious issue, discuss it (peacefully) and deal with it.

Yes, there should be limits, laws, background checks and training required. Yes, there should be renewed proof of this at the time of license renewals for each weapon. A responsible gun owner would understand the need for this because they would only want other responsible and trained, regularly licensed gun owners having other weapons as well.

A major argument is that responsible gun owners and legally purchased guns are not the problem.

My first response is I find it amazing that each “responsible gun owner” can speak for all the other “responsible gun owners” as though they meet all the time and know each other very well.

My second response is that is not true. Legally purchased guns end up in the wrong hands more often than these “responsible gun owners” must realize. The ability to purchase guns is far too easy in far too many places. There needs to be universal laws when it comes to background checks, waiting periods, guns and ammo purchases and an assault weapon ban.

My third response is this. ”Responsible gun owners” do not come with a magic chip in them saying they are responsible, will keep their weapons locked up properly, only use their weapon in the absolute necessity that it is needed and will be in 100% tip top emotional and mental condition for the rest of their life. They also don’t have the promise no one in their family won’t get to their weapons or someone breaking into their home won’t be able to do the same. There are no guarantees.

The NRA makes it seem as though guns are the answer to protection and the government and its laws are trying to take that away from people.

For those trying to hide behind the 2nd amendment, they aren’t the ones who control this discussion. The idea however of more guns being the answer has proven to be wrong, dead wrong.

This is a must read article by:  Mother Jones, “More guns, more mass shootings – coincidence?” Their team put together a lot of facts about guns, violent crimes, laws and changes through a lot of investigating on their part. I urge you to look at the numbers.

Also, looking at some graphs put together by Simon Rogers with the Guardian, America is well armed compared to other societies around the world (88 per 100) and our gun violence speaks for approximately 60% of all homicides.

Another argument is not only guns take lives.

True. It isn’t just a weapon that ends a life. It is a person who believes they have a justified reason to do so.

As humans we react many times out of emotion. In many of these cases, there are feelings of anger, hate, revenge, defeat, entrapment and many times nobody knows what set a person off to commit such violent crimes.

The right thing to do, if a person is thinking rationally is to walk away, take some time to think things over, seek some advice or maybe get more details. A lot of times people are going through situations where counseling is needed and has been needed but either they didn’t know it, didn’t seek it or it wasn’t available.

Too often, a gun is too easily available to pick up, steal or purchase.

Not everyone committing these horrible murders/suicides, massacres and violent crimes were “monsters” before these acts. Many times, no one noticed any signs of behavior change, isolation, depression or signs of mental illness. Other times, it was noticed but they were unable to get help or convince the person to get help.

Does that mean people with emotional or mental illnesses are “monsters”? No. It means people with problems need to be able to seek help, get the proper diagnosis, counseling, medications and not be labeled with a stigma as being “crazy”.

If a person in need of help seeks help and receives help, this is definitely not “crazy”. That is the right thing to do and it should definitely be available to anyone in need of these services.

Many people with emotional and mental illnesses can live fulfilling lives alongside everyone else if they are able to get the medical and emotional help necessary. This important issue in our society cannot continue to be ignored. This is a huge gap in our healthcare system leading to economic and many other life issues. It is easier for Americans to access guns than mental health care. Without truly dealing with this, we can’t move forward on dealing with these murder/suicides, massacres and violent crimes.

There are two sides to be focused on immediately without involving political favors, campaigning, lobbyist and self-promotions.

1)      Too many weapons without just purpose or place in our society (other than within our military)

2)      Not enough available care and treatments for those with emotional and mental needs and disabilities.

For those who can’t clearly see these needs, they aren’t focusing on the real problems. They are standing in the way of what needs to lead to a drastic change.

We can’t just cover the cracks or kick the can down the road.

Our biggest war is going on here at home and our children and loved ones are the victims.

What is the difference between these recent massacres and 9/11? We are part of the blame. We vote. We have voices and if the issue isn’t being addressed, keep pursuing the issues.

These victims didn’t have a choice and now their voices have been silenced.

20 children silenced (ages 6 – 7) and 6 adults (their principal, school psychologist, two teachers, and teaching assistants)

This is our country, our communities and our neighborhoods. Those teachers are our teachers and those children are our children.

Speak up.

UPDATE: President Obama speaks at Newtown High School

Must see video below:

Video Tribute “Lives cut short by school shooting” – by: Anderson Cooper and the AC360 Team

 

Add on: “Balloons released to Heaven Among the Stars” Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT.

With love, 

Tribute to Sandy Hook, Newtown CT December 14, 2012

Time for a discussion: Guns, mental health, violence

24 Hours Ago… So much can change in a 24 hour period.

Throughout the world, lives are lost each day due to diseases, wars, drugs, mental and eating disorders, famine, violent crimes and so much more. What makes today different is not only is this happening just after the other recent tragedies in a mall, a theater, hair salon, etc but these were children, teachers a principal and those there to help our children.

They lived in one of the top 10 places to live in America. School should be a safe zone. No hate, violence, bullying or fear of dying due to any senseless act of crime. Mental disorders or not. That is not a reason or excuse for violence.

People live with mental disorders everyday without causing harm. People have guns responsibly. The fact is, not everyone is held accountable. Not everyone is responsible with a gun or keeps it away from the wrong hands.

Not everyone has proper medical diagnosis, care and/or treatment for their mental illness. The discussions and resolutions can’t be avoided. Prayers shouldn’t have to continuously go out for lives lost and communities affected by tragedy.

Prayers and attention need to focus on one thing, SAVING LIVES.

Put the politics aside.

People deserve to live and people deserve proper medical attention.

Side note:

I wanted to post this now but I was working on an article following the recent shooting in Clackamas…then this happened, the shooting at an elementary school. I will follow this up with a further article.

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Worldwide, people have been affected in different ways. 

It is time for a discussion.

Elections, the GOP and more craziness!

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. : Photo by Ashleighb77

November 6th has come and gone with another Presidential Election behind us!

Wait! Not so fast! We did have an election and Barack Obama was elected to another term in office as President of the U.S.

However, votes are still being counted… Yes, I know we are over 10 days beyond the election so how could that still be going on?

Well, even as Mitt Romney was making his concession speech and President Obama was making his victory speech, people were still waiting in line to vote. Yes, that is true. In South Florida, many people were in line until 1:00 AM. But, they stayed and voted so their voices would be heard.

Why? Voting is their right. People know their vote matters and nothing or nobody will detour them from their vote being counted, at some point… hopefully.

Every election the message gets pushed about the importance of registering to vote, getting out to vote, having your voice heard, etc. But, more and more, it is becoming a divided message.

Plain and simple, who you’re voting for, possibly could determine how much your vote may be sought after or “blocked”.

Laws to protect voters from simply being turned away at the polls on Election Day, based on who you are voting for, but the GOP is working tirelessly on passing new laws to put strains on selected groups depending on different demographics.

As much as one may think law and order is here to protect our nation, preserve our rights and honor our freedoms, that is something that is not only questioned but questionable.

Watch this clip from HBO’s “The Newsroom” to see their look at a very real issue that is only growing worse with each election cycle and is an enormous part of why “Washington” seems to be so bogged down and unable to get anything substantial moved through in a reasonable (if any) amount of time.

“THE NEWSROOM”

Do you think they have some valid points in the segment?  What?

First, the voting fraud issue. The New York Times identified out of 120 voter fraud cases filed by the Department of Justice in five years, only 86 resulted in convictions. In the 2008 elections, between 126.5 million and 128.5 million Americans cast ballots, according to a report by the electorate study center. Compare the numbers.

Rick Hasen, UCI Professor of Law and Expert on Election Law said, “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent.

Does that mean there are absolutely no instances of voter fraud that could be caught by enacting voter ID laws? No, that isn’t what I am saying. I don’t think anyone would make that point because it would just be inaccurate.  So, why all the hype?

Well, let’s look at the big picture for a moment.

You have a group of GOP leaders in Washington that have made pledges all over the place. Their biggest job in Washington had nothing to do with the people who elected them but everything to do with some promises, pledges and their possibilities for re-election. Period.

In 2010, the Tea Party took them on and made deals with them. They campaigned to get them into Washington as long as they played by the Tea Party rules. Make President Obama a one-term President, get the government out of our lives, never raise taxes and we will get you re-elected.

It is pretty difficult to go discuss things in Washington and make decisions when your mind is made up for you without having heard both sides of what is actually going on but that is what happened and they willingly signed on the line to get re-elected or elected into Washington.

What was the pledge? It was the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” from Grover Norquist. Two people on the list are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. You can see everyone by visiting the link.

The problem with this pledge is it includes and excludes too much to be anything close to reasonable. By signing the pledge, it shows an unwillingness to work together, discuss the issues of a very diverse nation or the ability and desire to compromise and/or find solutions.

It is a simple pledge.

The house and senate members basically say this by signing;

ONE – oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and

TWO- oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

The governor says this by signing;

I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.

The state legislator says this by signing;                      

I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

 

 

How crazy is that!

These people’s decisions would and have been affecting people and our entire nation now and for a very long time. Signing short, little summed up pledges with the words, “any”, “all”, “oppose”, “veto” and the rest of the neatly and all-restrictive wording tucked in the little Norquist pledges are unacceptable.

This isn’t new information. This has been known and even so these people have been holding things up with no viable reasoning other than they have Norquist to answer to, voters are still electing them…

As it stands right now, our leaders (I hate to use that word when I am talking about these that sign these pledges) are about to go into their “Lame Duck Session” and try to figure out how to avoid a fiscal debt crisis. How can this be accomplished when all of these who have signed pledges are basically blocked from any type of reasonable negotiations? I mean why are they in there? Why not just send in Grover Norquist? They are basically representing him, right? How do these people get re-elected?

Maybe, some voters need more convincing than others to show them their Party of choice is a complete train wreck at the moment. And, we do have more elections coming up in 2014.

As much as the GOP would like everyone to believe the Democrats, the Liberals or whatever term is being used are trying to take over healthcare, the Internet, the school system or whatever else HASN’T been taken over like it was predicted to be in 2008, let’s focus on what the GOP has been dedicated on changing, pushing through and making into laws.

This is from the same party that says the government should be out of people’s business but somehow want to be a big part of women’s lives when it comes to health care, birth control, unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

This is the same party that can tell a woman if she has been “legitimately raped” or whether her life is really in danger enough for a pregnancy to be terminated to save her life. Yes, they are suddenly ready to jump in the middle of lives there.

These are not doctors or families here. These are just elected officials who are supposed to be doing their job in Washington, not holding someone’s hand at the visit with the OBGYN or at the ER after a rape.

But, are you confused here? I’m not but I will go on.

If they are really so concerned about these unborn lives as they say, then why are they not just as concerned when they are born? Why are they not concerned when they are 2, 5, 10 or getting older? You see they oppose funding healthcare programs, early education programs, free lunch initiatives, student aid and many other things that help along life’s way. They oppose any gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines”. Are they for or against life? Their choices and stance on many issues do not make sense with their stance on others. If they want to protect life, why don’t they believe in helping in assisting those who require assistance and protecting the American people from gun violence? It is one thing to have a weapon to protect yourself. It is another thing to have a weapon that causes massive tragedy in seconds.

Many can say laws of these types or programs for assistance are unnecessary for everyone. How does anyone know? How does anyone know what tomorrow may bring?

A person, or unborn person, can’t decide who or where they are born. Nobody knows what life may bring their way. The fact is everyone deserves opportunity so if this “unborn person” doesn’t end up in a successful, well off family, living in a good area near good schools with access to good healthcare coverage and college, then the care needs to continue past the campaign slogan and stump speeches.

A person watching a movie in a theater, visiting a congresswoman or attending classes at college shouldn’t run the risk of being gunned down in a senseless and often preventable act of violence.

A Party can’t say one thing and live another thing. A Party can’t stand up for what they believe when all they believe in is winning votes.

That is why Mitt Romney didn’t win. It isn’t because Obama bought votes or Americans are looking through “rose-colored glasses” or anything like that. The fact is Mitt Romney was saying whatever it took to get votes from the people he was speaking to on that given day, in that particular location. Different days, different promises, different Mitt. That isn’t compromise or a change of heart.  Those are lies. That much flip-flopping is straight up lying.

It was sad, really.

Mitt Romney was like a GOP experiment to see it just isn’t going to work anymore. Americans aren’t going to buy the promises and lies.

He did get a large amount of votes though. I am not convinced in the least those votes were all for Mitt Romney, not even half. Many of those votes were against Barack Obama. If that was on the ballot ( _ Against Obama), that would have been checked.

Voters need to understand they elect these people into Washington that are keeping things so out of balance. Signing outside pledges is not a way to represent the American people.  That is self-gratification.

Signing pledges is a campaign slogan. Saving unborn babies and turning on them after birth is a campaign slogan. Having smear and fear campaigns are nothing but showing the Party has nothing to promote with their own Nominee or with their own Party. The time for slogans, bickering and pointing fingers as to why Romney lost is over.

Americans voted. We voted our President back and we want action in Washington.

Everyone has slogans. Ours won this time. #Obama2012 #VoiceForChoice #Obamacare

America is strongest as a nation. Stand together to keep it united. Division is never the answer. 

Let Washington be the example.