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Roots and Reunions

I got nervous on the drive to the hotel. It was the kind of nervous you feel when a friend you’ve never heard sing is about to take the stage to belt out a ballad. You hope with all your heart they do well but more than that, you suspect they are horrible. You were excited during the planning but now that the curtain is moving, your mistake is realized too late. “Is the DJ going to play Snoop Dog or Depeche Mode?” my wife asked. “I have no idea. Actually, I have no idea if Matt even hired a DJ. Wow. What if he didn’t hire a DJ?” Imagining a large room full of people with no music, forced to make conversation with each other, suddenly terrified me. I hadn’t talked to most of these people in twenty years. Some of them I had never talked to. Imagining all the horrible possibilities made me feel sixteen all over again, which was appropriate, because I was on my way to my twenty year high school reunion.1smoothmebw

I graduated from a suburban public school outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Going to high school in suburban Utah is just like going to school in any other suburb except that it’s maybe just a bit whiter and a lot more Mormon. There was plenty of homework, zits, football, sex, beer, bad hair, bad taste, and good times. Not all of us had all of those things, but they were all there. There were geeks and jocks, band nerds and burn outs, somebodies and nobodies. I was never quite sure which of all those I was, and I think part of my nervousness pulling into the parking lot was that I might find out. This was very much a homecoming. Not just in that I grew up in this place and been gone for most of my adult life, but because most of the people that would be there, I not only graduated with, but grew up with. I had known them since elementary school. I lived in the same house from birth through high school, and so had almost everyone else. Both that place and those people are and were my roots. We grew in the same soil at the same time and we were all going to be together again tonight. Nostalgia does not always square well with truth and some truth is hard to face. Really, the truth rarely squares with Facebook or Instagram either. This was part of why I wanted to go to the reunion in the first place. I am aware that liking posts on Facebook is not the same as friendship. Looking at online pictures of someone’s kids or latest night on the town is not the same as hanging out. I wanted to hang out. I wanted to see if we were still friends in the real world. I wanted to be real world friends with those I now chatted with online despite never speaking to in high school. I wanted them to be friends with me. I wanted to see if the folks who defriended me around election time would still shake my hand. What if they did shake my hand but still harbored hard feelings? What if it is weird? What if we all just stand around awkwardly nodding at each other? My insides began twisting into a knot but I had driven hundreds of miles back to a place I had long since abandoned and drug my wife along for the ride. I couldn’t back out. I took a deep breath, held it for just a moment, then pushed open the car door.1georgehug

I walked slowly as my wife did her one footed hop, trying to strap on heels and walk across a parking lot at the same time. As I paused to wait, a black SUV pulled to a stop in front of me. “Daaaaaaaalyn!” they yelled as the windows rolled down. We grownups rarely get such a greeting and I was happy to see that we weren’t all going to be grownups tonight. Nanners, Nat, Dixie and Gina; I hadn’t seen those four women since they were girls and we were friends. Exchanging awkward hugs through rolled down windows gave me hope that our dormant relationships still lived and that tonight’s party wouldn’t be dead. A bit surprised at how surreal it was to see those faces after all these years I told them to go park and we would meet inside. It was awkward just as I feared. Awkward, exciting, and happy.1lisahug

Trevor was in the lobby. From fifty yards away I could tell it was him and I was scared. We were real friends, the kind that hung out after the convenience of school had expired. But I had moved away chasing my own future and we hadn’t spoken since. What if this was my fault and he knew it? We shouted each other’s names and when we got close enough to hug his smile looked real. We stepped back to stare at the creases at the corners of our eyes, and realized they were in fact the same old eyes, then hugged again. I didn’t care anymore who else’s smiles might be real because now mine was. I didn’t care anymore. I had stepped onto that stage and hit the first note pitch perfect. The fear was gone. As my wife and I turned the corner we saw the crowd spilling out of the conference room doors. There was Leavitt, Tina, Dan, and wow; is that Steve? I stepped into the crowd and slipped into a sort of sensory overload. Everywhere I looked were foggy versions of my past all smushed together into right now. I didn’t know what to say or who to talk to. I just hugged everything that crossed my path and kept smiling. Smiling and smiling and smiling.1usguys

My wife was a great sport throughout this whole thing. She had originally declined my request that she come along. “Why in the world would I drive ten hours to go hang around a bunch of people I have never met in a place I don’t really want to visit?” It was a fantastic question to which I had no immediate answer. “Uhhh, cuz I wanna hang out with you?” was all I had. With our intentions firmly settled I sadly made solo plans. I thought about this as I buzzed around the room shaking hands and reading name tags. She smiled and encouraged me to pose for a picture with everyone I met. She floated over to the table of old letter sweaters and memorabilia taking photos, reading the memorials to those of our class who passed too early; she was more than a good sport. She finally agreed to come when an old friend of hers, not mine, called and begged her to come sleep in their guest room. This invitation moved her from “no way” up onto the fence. Her mother offering free babysitting for the weekend shoved her over onto my side, and once on my side she went all in. She smiled and acted excited to see people she had never met. She read name tags and laughed at everyone’s jokes including mine. She did it so well I was convinced her smile was real. She did it so well that within a few minutes she convinced herself as well. We had done our homework before the trip. I thumbed through my old yearbooks, she fell asleep half way through Can’t Buy Me Love, refused to sit through License to Drive, but together we watched every episode of Freaks and Geeks. This combination of preparation, and her natural charm, made her an instant hit, and by extension, I felt like a hit as well.1fab5

There was a DJ. I’m not sure what he played because I was too busy catching up with old friends. There were some prizes given out to the senior superlatives, including the couple voted most likely to be together forever. They were both there and they were still together. The two voted biggest class clowns were still clowns, though one of said clowns is now, strangely enough, a principal. Most likely to be president- wasn’t. Matt, the one who organized the whole thing, said some words, but not too many. It was perfect.1splitmatt

It was around this time, or perhaps a little bit earlier, that the bar on the other side of the hotel, and the 12 pack stashed under a table, started to show their influence. No one got stupid like they always do in the movies, but they got happy, slow, and shallow. People I was excited to see would hug me tightly and while staring hard at my forehead say things like, “Living the dream man. Ya know, just doing my thing. Isn’t that great?” or maybe, “You have always meant the world to me. You are the whole reason I came,” said just a little too slow and in response to the question, “Do you have any children?” Such conversations put me in a strange place. I would stand in front of a person I was profoundly happy to see, someone I had anticipated spending time with, and there they were, but only a slightly glossed façade of a person. It was still good to see such a friend, but it was much more like watching a movie than living one in that you could see them, but they were really somewhere else.1splitjake

In a way this was the most real experience of the night. Real because one night of catching up is not enough to connect with the whole of a person. We were mostly too happy, too excited, or for some- too drunk. Reality is happy and excited, but it is also sad and hard. There are affairs and divorces, lost jobs and lost children. We knew each other when we were young and full of dreams. Most dreams either evaporate or die violently. New dreams, often better ones can take their place, but staring into the liquor happy eyes of a once very close friend, I felt the loss that comes with reality. I wanted to know everything I had missed over the years. I wanted to pay a happy visit to days past. I wanted to be close again. What I got was a good strong hug, sincere exchange of smiles, and a good look into a pair of eyes that let me know we wouldn’t be going much deeper that night. It was like Facebook in real life.1onthe table

As I sat back and enjoyed watching everyone, even the empty eyed ones, enjoy themselves, I wondered if is possible to tell the type of a tree just by looking at its roots. Looking around the room I could see my roots. This place, these people, are what I grew from. Looking around I could see it, remember it, feel it-roots. But while looking and feeling I wondered what kinds of trees or plants we really were, or rather are. I can’t tell. This was a room full of people with the same roots but we were oaks and aspens, orange trees and grape vines. I am not confident I know what everyone has grown into and I’m sure most others really don’t know me. Maybe that is because in my mind I am not sure what kind of tree I am either. I’m not done growing. How high school of me.  I am unsure of what I have really grown into, some of those I grew up with drink to avoid knowing, and most of us just post pictures of our blossoms.1splitguys

But I loved it. I loved it because what I do know is that I still have roots. I have a base from which to grow no matter in what soil I am planted. Roots feel good. In that room hugging those people, smiling a very real smile, wishing we could talk deeper than we did- I was happy.

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Vegas

Doctors and scientists agree that an elevated body temperature is particularly dangerous in that it can cause permanent neurological damage. If a human body reaches 100.4 degrees the person officially has a fever and should report to the nearest hospital for treatment. It was 106 degrees yesterday in Las Vegas.IMG_5563

At nine in the morning I step through the plaster facade of Paris onto the sidewalk but have to stop short to avoid colliding with a shirtless man drinking something red from a fishbowl.

IMG_5567He was walking by himself but he was in no way alone. There were plenty of strange objects, all of them large, filled with colorful liquids being carried and sipped from, by all sorts of partially clothed people. The people came in all sorts and all ages and in large numbers. They were speaking German, Spanish, and drunken gibberish.

IMG_5565“Yeeeeeeeeah! Duuuuuude. Check em out broh!” “Heeeeey, whoooooooie! Yeah watch me drop it!” “Whoo-o whoo-o! Whoo-o, whoo-o!” Such poetry being shouted by middle aged divorcee’s or twenty somethings from Ohio State sounds pretty much the same. No matter how it looks or sounds, the prevailing impression is that those saying it are sweaty.IMG_5555Nine in the morning or nine at night it doesn’t matter. At both times it is 106 degrees outside and everyone is either drunk or trying to get there. Inside it isn’t quite as hot.

IMG_5564I was there to have dinner with the Teamster’s. When I arrived I was shown to a table with two six foot tall blonde women who said they were sisters, a Jewish lawyer whose father was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, and an Ex-Mormon who worked in the dairy industry. No one thought our grouping remarkable in any way.IMG_5566After dinner I walked back through the maze of lights and bells towards my room. Groups wearing sashes and tiaras, or red hats and teddy bear sweaters, or suits with black shirts all gathered around various tables and machines shouting.IMG_5569One grey haired man sat at a machine holding a lit cigarette down at his waist. He was staring off toward nothing doing nothing and saying nothing, but everything around him was lit up and making noise.IMG_5570

Everyone there is trying to have a good time. I know this because the shouting, the billboards, and the gauntlet of salespeople are telling me so. They offer me free drinks, free admission to a striptease, a chance at winning $100,000. IMG_5572After the fifth encounter I simply stop responding. I just want to watch the fountains dance in front of the Bellagio or listen to some live music with something more than just a bass line.IMG_5571

A bunch of guys wearing bespoke suits are pausing to take pictures with women wearing sequined g-strings. I wave my hand aside as one of the ladies moves to step in front of me. I smile at her and shake my head no.IMG_5574

I’m in Vegas and everyone is here to have a good time. I’m ready to have a good time. Business is done so now its time to play. I’m not against fun. I’ve never thought of myself as boring or a prude but by ten o’clock I was headed for my room. I didn’t feel bad about it. I was ready for fun.

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Who Would do Such a Thing?

So why would anyone take the type of job that when the entire industry is honored, it is done so by allowing a person the luxury of not having to do that job?

Such is motherhood.217810_10151031393339071_1954661940_n

It is a sorority with the most severe initiation ritual ever devised, so much so that millions have died while pledging, yet a fresh new batch of applicants sign up every day.

If the initiation ritual for admittance to motherhood were replicated as a sort of guaranteed gateway to a million dollars, we would likely have less millionaires than we do now.  It just wouldn’t be worth it. Yet not only do people sign up without the promise of a cash prize, but many pay huge sums to get in the club. Medical science has devoted some its best minds to the cause of allowing women the joy of enduring huge amounts of pain for little to no thanks, other than that one day a year when they are honored by being allowed to act like they aren’t in the club for a day.

My mom before.

My mom before.

Now parenting is another story. One need not go through this initiation ritual to gain the title of parent. No, instead the intense pain of birthing labor is stretched out over 18 years in the eyes of the law, but in reality will likely last till you finally graduate into the grave.

My mom after.

My mom after.

There are those who join motherhood but decline to continue on to parent, there are those who never gave birth who then elect to parent, and then there are those who do both. Those who do both are insane, illogical, and the world owes them an inexhaustible debt.

I’m glad I hit the mother lottery. Come to think of it. I hit the lottery twice.IMG_6672

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Monkey Suit: because its summer

My niece is getting married this summer. I’ve never met the guy. She’s a smart girl so I’m sure he’s great but I’m not so sure about all of this. I am however sure that he has nothing to do with the point of this post so right at the beginning, I’ve already digressed. Typical.

The point is that the reception is outside. Summer wedding outside; what to wear?montgomerymeninsuits

My family is not a formal bunch by anyone’s measure. We may be a little better put together than those with whom we associated coming up, but that bar can’t get any lower. So really, the only one who will care at all what I wear- is me. But I do care. I think we have gone over this before. I may be digressing again.

It must be a suit. I know it’s summer and outside, but it’s a wedding for heaven’s sake. And yes, wear the jacket. The fact that I even felt I had to justify that statement shows just how low that bar is set.

My closet is always just a tad deficient, and I may not be in a position to fix that right now, but in the spirit of weddings and love, allow me to dream just a little.SUIT_Cotton_Linen_Whipcord_Grey_003

I said a “little” so I’m not going to go all bespoke here, but there is still room for reaching without reaching all the way to the stars. I’d be happy to reach for the laptop and order a suit from Bonobos.

Yup, the pants guys make suits.

I don’t just want a suit. I want a cotton/linen blend, lightweight, light colored, summer suit.SUIT_CottonLinen_Almond_Slim_Group_050_(2) (2)

I also want a light colored, slightly playful, but not too much, pocket square to add a little flair. Bonobos makes those too.PKTSQ_HudsonDot_Linen_Carnation_382

I actually made some myself out of a pair of Bonobos pants I owned that met an untimely demise due to rambunctious behavior and a can of paint.destroinside

I suggest you order them as pocket squares rather than pants. Cheaper that way. Less work too.

The rational side of me knows that as a Californian, such a suit could be worn year round. That adds value right?

Just remember, especially when wearing light colored suits; your tie should always be darker than your shirt, and it’s probably best to stick to light colored shirts the pocket square should not exactly match your tie. It can match your shirt, but not your tie.PKTSQ_AnchorWave_Linen_NavyBlazer_377

Come to think of it… 50 bucks says half of the guys won’t be wearing suits but will wear ties. So I think I’ll wear a suit but not a tie. Unless I wear it in my pocket as a pocket square.

New rule: your pocket square can match your tie if it is in fact, your tie.IMG_3463

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Mancation: Inception

I think maybe it was the phone calls.

I get a lot of phone calls but there are these certain types that after I hang up I just sort of stare off into space for a while. In my role in church I get told things that I then have to keep. I don’t get to talk about them, its kind of like confession. So I just sit there and stare while the phone call sinks into my soul like lead. I started getting a lot of those calls.worn out

“You should call your friends and go on a trip.”

I can’t really raise one eyebrow, but if I could, I would have.

We talked. I listened. No; I think I complained and she listened. It was decided I needed a vacation.

How does one vacation? No. Wrong way to think about this. What do I want to do? Right. Thats a better way to go about it. As I sit and think I am annoyed with the need to think and plan. Thinking and planning is what I need a vacation from. Forget it. Forget planning. I’m not planning this.

I sent a text to the guys. They were in, but they weren’t going to plan it either.

I soon realized that to travel without planning I would still need to plan a little. I emailed out a spreadsheet with the supply list: tent, cooler, a canoe, ya know, just the basics. Off to one side was a list of possible destinations: Leatherheads workshop, cheese farm, Root Soda bottling plant, somewhere up north not near anyone, just the basics. Then, up top, I wrote out some ground rules:

No internet

No hotel/motel

No more than one purchased meal per day and only if it is specific to location (ie Maine lobster)

If we come upon a natural body of water 3+ feet deep, we must swim

If any of us almost die Dr. Chadwick must save them

And that was it.load up

Early Thursday morning I drove over the bridge to the Dr.s house and shortly thereafter the were-bear (half man half bear) arrived. kaleo taking pictures

The Kala Beverages boys were back together. We loaded up the rented Xterra and pointed north.

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2002 Olympics: Why the Word Brohammas.

Once upon a time, when I was in college, there was a ski resort with a $10 half day pass. It only took 20 minutes to get from my door to the lift. This combination of affordability and accessibility were the perfect combination for poor academic performance. It did however lead to great back-country board performance. Sadly there is no listing for back country on my transcript.
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Several years later, still an undergrad, the roommate of a friend says, “dude!” because that was how we talked, “I need some help at work, do you want a job?”

That was how my friend and I became the managers of the official ticketing center for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics.
olyparadeThis job consisted of my friend and I managing the staff of a box office, saying “no” to angry scalpers or tourists who bought fake tickets, and sitting in the back room with a schedule of events and this magic box that printed out legit tickets to any and all of the Olympic events.
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Our conversations went a lot like this: “Dude, one of us has to be here during business hours so lets each list what events we want to see and plan this out. Okay, so hockey is on Thursday, dude, why would anyone want to watch curling, wait… Dude I told you before no refunds! I know they said they flew here all the way from Denmark just to see curling but if they bought their tickets on Ebay there is no way we can guarantee them… Where were we?”
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Speaking of Ebay, we all reported to a large warehouse to get our official uniforms. They were color coded by role, one color for volunteers, another for officials, another for employees. My list said our color was mountain blue. When I received my mountain blue coat I said, “Dude, this is purple! I ain’t wearing a purple ski jacket.” Some guy in Atlanta had no qualms with a purple ski coat and paid me $500 cash via Ebay.

We each thought the other a sucker. I used my cash to buy a Dale of Norway commemorative sweater. Dale thinks I’m a sucker.
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I scored two tickets to the opening ceremony. Fifty yard line, about half way up, sweet. I rushed triumphantly home to my beautiful bride, because I had a wife already but still no degree, and presented to her my glorious prize. “Uh… there is no way I’m going to that.” was her simple reply. The words did not register. I repeated again, slower this time, what exactly I had just presented.

Same reply.

“Why?”

“It is winter. It is outside. I-HATE- Cold!”

I called her co workers and anyone else she wasn’t married to and they convinced her that wearing three of my boarding outfits at once may just fend off the elements enough for her to enjoy a once in a lifetime event. She listened to people, most anyone, who was not me.

She is wise.
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Having conquered cold the two of us commenced to conquering the nightly medal ceremonies followed by live music. We watched Dave Mathews, Nelly Furtado gave me a rose, and being unable to convince the Mrs. to leave the N’Sync concert early; I walked home five miles, uphill, at night, in February, alone. She drove home once Justin Timberlake had satisfied the roaring crowd of 12 year old girls.
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I went down to the basement the other day and pulled the old board out of its bag. The edges are rusted out and the foam around my goggles has turned to dust. These days we rarely brave the cold for a concert and I say dude far less than I once did.

Little is left of those years other than some photos, a line on my resume’, and till the other day, my gloves. I just got a text from Boston saying they had found my glove under the seat of the car. Glove. Singular. Now it seams the only thing left of those powder filled years, is the name of this blog.

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Bang! and Reason Joins Civility Six Feet Under

I do not recall the first time I shot a gun. It was that long ago. I was that young. Shooting was always just part of my life. We were mostly, but not exclusively, a black powder family.20130110-111405.jpg

I recall two muzzle loaders kept in sleeves in the back of Dad’s closet, I’m guessing the 30.06 was back there too. There was also a child’s sized rifle kept under their bed. This was the one I remember best. Not because it fit my shoulder better but because its dark cherry stalk was beautiful. It also had a tendency to just go to half-cock rather than firing when you pulled the trigger. It exposed me as a horrible flincher. For a while there was a flint-lock pistol that lived in the gun chest, the chest filled with led balls, canisters of powder, and ripped up cotton patches. I hated the sulfur smell when we sat in the kitchen swabbing out barrels and wiping them down with oil. I fancied myself a good shot.20130110-111415.jpg

I can still hear Dad’s humorless voice ordering me to keep my finger away from the trigger unless I plan to fire, never under any circumstances point the barrel towards another person, and don’t dry-fire, even if you have already inspected the chamber. Always set up the range toward the side of a hill, inspect it for metal or other rick-o-shay hazards, and wear ear protection. These were all non-negotiable. Guns are tools not toys.

Venison was our winter staple. The family got three “tags” every season. Dad got a buck permit for the regular hunt, then grandma and mom each got a doe permit for the black powder hunt. Dad used all three, the doe permits were to make sure we would have something to eat, the buck permit was in hopes of getting the “big one.” Sitting still in the snow with my father is where and when I learned you don’t always have to talk. It is okay to just sit there. It is also the first time I threw a rock at a bull moose in hopes it would go away.marksman

The guys and I used to drive out to the west desert on Saturdays. Most all of them carried semi-auto .22s, except Trevor and I. I used a .22/.20 over under shotgun, Trevor brought a Mak10. That thing never hit a rabbit but it was very fun to fire. I’m pretty sure that out of the ten of us who went out regularly, I was the only one to ever hit anything. A rabbit would pop out and make a break for it, and despite all the noise, it would just zig zag off into the distance. I remember walking next to Mitch. As he was emptying his magazine I calmly lifted the shotgun to my shoulder and and squoze. “I think it was me who got that one,” he would say time after time. I would just nod and pump the empty out of the chamber.

The first time I heard a bullet in flight. Jimmy Cowley was about thirty yards to my left, my dad about thirty yards to my right, and the rabbit popped out of the sage about thirty yards to my front. Jimmy had a semi-automatic .22 with a forty round clip and he opened fire on the mangy jack rabbit. Rather than running away, it ran right for me. Jimmy was not looking at me, he was looking down the barrel toward the rabbit. He kept pulling the trigger as the rabbit ran between us and by the time he and I realized what had just happened, my father’s barrel was pointing at Jimmy. We were both about 12.

The second time I heard a bullet in flight was while riding a bike in Atlanta. My missionary companion and I were pedaling down the street when I heard a whiz then a slap against the wall behind me. The two of us froze in place while people scattered in all directions. A teenage girl ran by with her coat pulled up over her head.  I saw a man crouched behind a half wall with a silver revolver in hand. From somewhere else I heard the “pop—-pop–pop.pop.pop” of return fire. We turned the corner and just kept going.

Most all of us “inner-city” missionaries had tape recordings of machine gun fire made on the fourth of July. I never knew people fired guns on the fourth till my downstairs neighbors made it obvious. His was obviously a shotgun.

We were already married before my wife ever fired a gun. Under close supervision she shot a beautiful Smith & Wesson chrome revolver at a dirt clod. She pulled the trigger, handed me the pistol, and walked away shaking. She says she was unprepared for how violent it was. She has no desire to ever fire one again.

We don’t keep a gun in our house. I would love too. I miss that part of my life but not enough to make my wife uncomfortable in her own home. I suppose she could learn to get comfortable but that isn’t on her to-do list. I guess there is some irony in that I lived in a house full of guns in one of the safest neighborhoods in America, but lack firearms now that I live in one of the most dangerous. Maybe it is ironic, but it is exactly this situation that has taught me a few things.

Safety and rights are relative.

One of the major hurdles Martin Luther King Jr., SNCC, and other non-violent civil rights organizers faced was convincing the general Black population to put away their guns. For Black people in the rural south the danger of a lynch party showing up on your doorstep, often led by local authorities, was very real. Most every home had a shotgun behind the door as a Black family’s only possible defense. The courts and local laws would not help them. Non-violence was not only a public relations victory, but a daily life miracle of self restraint on the part of an oppressed people.

The net result of these people’s 2nd amendment restraint was the passing of civil rights legislation and the assassination of MLK.NRA

On the other side of the country, and the tactical spectrum, other Black people took the opposite tact and began carrying guns out in the open. The White establishment would have none of this. The self destruction and implosion of the Black Panther Party has made most of us forget that these were not just a bunch of leather clad fools. The Panthers not only organized a militia and bore arms but crafted a constitutional argument defending their right to do so. The idea that the only thing that would stop a bad guy with a gun was a good guy with a gun, was preached by the Panthers. They also happened to believe that a large majority of the bad guys were wearing badges and the good guys were wearing black berets. And really, if one looks at things through the historical lens of a Black American… they had a lot of evidence to prove their point. The Panther’s guns were confiscated. The NRA did not defend them.1streetmemorial

Skipping forward to today, most of the Black people I know want guns gone. Gone from the streets, gone from their homes, just gone. I sit in church and listen as month after month someone from the congregation will stand up and tell of someone they love who has been shot, or about when they themselves were hit by flying bullets. I have yet to hear one of these people stand up and pray for more firepower.girlmemorial

My Facebook feed is alive with memes and sound bites taking this position or that on gun control. The newspaper and radio give arguments for restricting guns or arming more citizens. I have seen dozens of stories praising gun owners who have shot intruders in the act of invading their homes. I have also followed a story of man licensed to carry a concealed gun who shot and killed an unarmed kid who was walking home from the convenience store. Where I grew up Elementary school teachers are being taught how to use guns to defend their classroom. Where I live now, a police task force is going to trial for running its own citywide drug ring. A couple of years ago a cop in my neighborhood got drunk, got angry at some noisy kids, went inside to get his gun and killed someone.irishflagmemorial

I hear and read a lot of arguments, not normally about what to do, but about how the other side is stupid. I talk to people on both sides but I get the feeling they don’t really talk to each other. How does this help? Every kid I know in the city can get their hands on a gun if they want one. Many see guns even when they are trying not too. Would more guns really make these kids safer?

Do I think I have a right to own a gun? Yes I do.

Do I want everyone to own a gun? No I do not. I know plenty of people that would terrify me if they were armed. I know other perfectly law abiding people that I would not trust with a gun in a million years.streetmemorial

I’ll tell every bad guy out there right now, odds are, if you break into my home I will not shoot you.

I do not care how bad you are, I do not think my TV is worth your life.

If my wife were to ever relent and let me keep a gun in the house, it would be unloaded and locked away some place making it impossible to be of any use in the event some burglar comes a prowling. This is because I know I can only control certain things in my life and will do everything in my power to make sure no one accidentally, or intentionally, kills someone with a gun I own. But I can only control so much.

I can’t control others who may wish me harm, just like I can’t control an out of control car coming my way.

But I can do my best. I register my car. I get my car inspected for safety every year and get my picture taken at the DMV. I can keep my home gun free to keep my wife happy but mostly because there are no deer or rabbits anywhere near my door.shootingdalyn

Lets go ahead and disagree. If you can show me where I am wrong, please help me out. If I think you are wrong maybe I should try to find a way to effectively communicate why. But please, lets do so in hopes of making things better, not in the name of proving a point. Comparing your apples to another person’s oranges does not make things better. Claiming to know what the other side “really” means or what their ulterior motives are is equally unproductive. Realize that for many people, mostly for the victims of violence, this is not a philosophical discussion. It is real life. It is too often real death.

One of my favorite memories from youth, one I fall back too when I’m feeling old and nostalgic, was the day Jake and I spent at the gun club. It was just the two of us, a .12 gauge, and about ten dozen clay pigeons. I don’t remember any real conversation, and I may have separated my shoulder, but I know I was happy that day. It was a good day, but not the only way to have one.

How do we ensure more good days for everyone?

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