Day of the Holy Innocent

Today Colombia celebrates April Fools, but it is called “Dia de los Santos Inocentes.” It is similar to April fools because of the pranks that people play on each other today. The roots of celebrating the days actually have to do with the bible and King Herod and the massacre of the innocents. Basically the magi coming to visit Jesus are alerted by an angel and return home via a different route hoodwinking Herod. I already find the magi amusing because who does not love pronouncing Balthazar.

Another amusing fact is that one of the precursor of April Fools day is the Feast of Fools a medieval tradition that was held, you guessed it, on December 28.

The Mind That Fires the Gun

This post has been floating in my head for quite some time. I tend to dislike guns and associate them with negative things. Some day I will be brave enough to discuss the details, but for now I will say that my first experience with guns was at a young age and it involved being shot at. Subsequently an extended family member that was a cop came over to our house and I saw up close my first revolver… as a means of protection for our family. Later in life I have encountered and even fired a lot more guns, and still did not care for them. It is amusing to me that people think that Colombia is this backwards “third world” place, growing up I thought of hunting as something that humans did before modern agriculture. The only people that really hunt in Colombia are the natives in the Amazon; unlike here that people mow down Bambi with high powered rifles.

I have plenty of friends that own guns. I have wanted one for personal protection for quite some time. I know that owning a gun is not enough, being trained on it and actually firing it in a range is what will make it effective in a life and death situation. This year as a present I decided to get a shotgun, for the nurse. The story of why will come soon enough, but because of something unrelated to this post I told her about it. She has not seen the shotgun but she knows about it. It is still kind of a surprise in that sense.

A Chiefs player killed his girlfriend a block away from where we live. We had no clue that we had an NFL player living in the neighborhood. The weird thing is that around that same time I was buying a gun as well. It was an easy process, I was amazed at how easy. Granted, I have no criminal record and I am a citizen but I could not help but be at awe at how easy it was to get one.

I have no problem with people owning guns, I just don’t want crazy people having access to guns; the hard part is how do we determine that.

A young man, possibly mentally ill kills 27 people, 20 of them very young children… like my nephew, like the nurse’s nieces… I cannot imagine how parents feel. I know my Mom was freaked out when she heard the news because she had no idea where Sandy Hook was located or what was happening. Even a second thinking your loved ones are not safe is hell.

This horrific event seems to be shifting the gun control discussion. I honestly don’t think it will accomplish much. If the mother of the kid that lost it was a good citizen and sane she could have still purchased the guns. Limiting assault type rifles seems logical but how many of those guns are already out there. The real problem is not that guns kill people, its that people that “lose it” either temporarily or permanently are the ones that kill people.

So the problem is not guns, it is mental health. You can call it evil; but I thought we were past the middle ages and thinking that winged monsters are the ones responsible for bad things that happened. People that lose their grasp of reality are the ones that kill others.

Mental health comes with a huge stigma still. A lot of people still don’t see it as an illness that needs to be treated. This is what really amazes me when people think that universal healthcare (including mental health) is something we don’t need. I dare you to read this article and reflect.

D.R.A.M.A.

xkcd
(If you don’t already have xkcd on your daily feed, you are missing out.)

I have talked to a shrink before, more than once. I am one of those people that very early on understood that all you can control in life is yourself… and even then it is an uphill battle because well, that croissant is just so dam tasty, even though I should not eat it. When I encounter a situation filled with drama, the first thing I try to determine, is this something I am in some way causing?

Avoiding drama is an art. The thing is that any time that you have strong views about anything drama is waiting just around the corner waiting to pounce.

I remember after a couple of failed relationships I decided to see a shrink again. One failed relationship might be bad luck, two its you for sure. I explained to the shrink what my shortcomings were, how I grew up, what I expected out of a relationship. I also explained the relationship issues I had, what I saw as not working and her prognosis was simple. “Stop dating crazy people.” A shrink said that… and it was a she.

We are all a little crazy and I can safely say that I know where my crazy comes from. I am a very logical thinker for almost everything in life, but when it comes to relationships I am extremely emotional. I can turn the emotions off completely and make compassion something that other people feel for puppies. I was that person for a long time, and it helped me deal with life as a teenager in a very dysfunctional home.

I never wanted that as an adult, and I have done everything in my power to avoid being the source of drama. I do fail miserably from time to time, because in the effort to avoid it, I seem to spin it into high gear.

Funny enough, this is probably one of my most drama free times of my life. While I had no shortage of it in the beginning of the year with my uncle passing, recently I am pretty drama free. I do have plenty of drama close to me, but I am now more of an observer than a direct participant.

The top water mark came some months ago when a bully feared by many tried to start something in a setting was bad. No, not the multicolored troll showing naked pictured of the conquest in a church in front of children, that one is a story for another time and another day. I engaged the bully, held my one and realized something. By standing up to said bully, even though I did it for the “right” reasons, I was simply perpetuating the drama.

In a conversation over lunch with coworkers recently the talk of leadership came around. The person making the statements is someone that has been around the world actually getting paid to give leadership seminars. I asked the question I always ask when people talk about leadership, is innate ability or learned skills better. He answered both, but the best are the ones that come with the innate ability, the ones that want to learn the skills are the ones that kept him employed. He also added that one of the things to learn is that you should never try to guess motivation, that it is always easier to just ask the person.

It brought me to a new understanding on a lot of things. Drama, for the most part can be just a lack of communication. I think a lot of drama start when one person tries to guess what motivates another to do something, and then people formulate things in their heads from that thought. Sometimes a person just wants to be listened to, and drama seems to be the only way to get someone’s attention.

Trying to ignore drama is not the answer. Trying to avoid it can create more of it. So at this point in my life I think that trying to just listen more is probably the best way to avoid it. I have been very good at removing people that cause drama to get attention out of my life, however it never really made me drama free. Now, it seems that trying to just understand people’s motivation by gathering information rather than guessing seems to be the best antidote to drama.

Make the Stupid STOP!

I used to think that everyone had a chance at being somewhat intelligent and capable, however I was very short sighted… I never accounted for the people that just don’t want to see. Most people without an actual mental condition that prevents them from learning become stupid by simply being lazy. Yea, lazy. My Gradpa that recently passed away did not go to school, he was an orphan that lived on the street and had to learn to read from picking up discarded newspapers. He eventually got a nursing certificate by passing the exams without any schooling. Because of that I value education, because I think everyone deserves that opportunity to make their lives better. You cannot help stupid.

Obama won… and why did he… simple math. You cannot win the election without the minorities or women. The republican party doubled down on the Tea Party and lost.

I remember what changed my mind about people being capable of being smart no matter what. It was not the “sheeple” attitude of listening and repeating only soundbites. It was racism. Racism that reared its ugly head once again.

Let me clarify, the following statements are RACIST!

You voted for Obama only because he is black. <- Obviously someone that has never read my blog and understands that to me Education and Energy are more relevant than race.
“Let’s make the white house, white again.” <- Yey! Tea Party.

I am not foolish, I do know that some black people did vote for Obama just because he is black. I know some voted for Romney because he is white. Latinos in the other hand voted because of the issues and not because of race. I wonder how this would be twisted when the first Hispanic actually makes it into the ballot.

I’m compassionate first. Let me repeat that… I care about people first. Let me make it clear, I have volunteered in the past and will do so again. I have given to charity, but most of all I believe that social programs are what makes this country great.

I believe in personal responsibility and while there are people that certainly game the system, it is naive to think that the cancer of our society is the people that live in welfare and not the rich guys that pay less taxes than all of us combined.

Wake up people and realize that until we as a country start to fight the real problem which is that the money we put into the system is sometimes not used properly. That said something has to be done. Lets first make sure that we have no sick or hungry people in the country first, then lets get rid of the criminals that because they have a white collar can get away with using their church tax exemption to pay less. That is just the start though, from there we need to make sure that we create a place of true fair competition and we move ahead from this era of “by any means necessary.”

If we learn anything from the past two decades is that we cannot continue to build sand castles and expect them to be there next summer. Lets build a future by staying engaged and learn that this country will be strong again if we wake up, stop the racism and divisiveness and concentrate on the real issues, that rich people are trying to buy the country little by little. Don’t be fooled into thinking they want you at their table too. Keep the middle class strong!

Prepared to die

We spend a lot of time in our lives getting ready for events. Expectations are always high before a big date on the calendar, a trip, a graduation even a birth. Not many know the day they are going to leave this earth, and the thought of knowing has always made me a little unease. Would it be cool to put your affairs in order and say goodbye, or would it be better to just go out with a big bang.

Today we lost another person close to us. This time was the nurse’s family. Her Aunt passed away quietly after she had her last breakfast and did a little craft work in the nursing home she had been residing in. She was a person that was always felt. In one way or another her opinions were strong and she made sure they were heard. She liked me for whatever reason she had, she did not know me very well, but she said I was a keeper.

I don’t know how to deal with the feelings and emotions of death. I spent a lot of time with my uncle before he passed. I made the decision to not fly back for the funeral because I did happen to be by his side the day he lost his life. I have always felt that putting someone in the ground is not something that should be as ceremonious as it is. Sure it is cool to see a military funeral if you never experienced it, but a funeral is just not somewhere you look forward to being.

I say that I want a happy funeral, remembering the good times and playing many of the silly dance songs I love. If I happen to outlive my friends I would want them to remember the good times and not be sad at the fact that I am gone.

Religion spends lots of time preparing us to die. The promise of heaven sounds very good on paper. To most the fact that we could see loved ones that passed away before us is also enticing. I don’t know how prepared I am to die because in all reality I love life. I love my life right now and I want to live it.

I am tired of putting my grandparent’s generation to rest, I can only dread the time when it is my parent’s generation that will be the ones taking the turn. Death is something that we don’t really know now to handle well. I know how to say I’m sorry for your loss and give condolences, but the relationship with that person is really more than the flesh is what will be missed the most.

A lot of what I have seen recently with death is that it seems to bring to the surface feelings good and bad and sometimes amplify them. Not to get to sappy about the whole thing, but I do think it is important to tell those you love just how you feel about them, often, all the time really. While our elderly passing on is not sudden or a surprise it still hurts and leaves a void.

I really hope there are no more funerals in my future.

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