When I was younger…elementary school I believe. I was evaluated for a program at school, and part of the evaluation was vocabulary. Even then I read a lot…I’ve always read a lot…since I learned how. The lady that was evaluating me was stunned that I knew the word pinochle, how to pronounce it, and what it was. She asked how I knew. So, I told her. I had read it in a book on card games. I still read a great deal, and have a great appreciation for words. (Superfluous is one of my favorites.) Something I do, almost unconsciously, is to compliment people when they use a “good word.” I was speaking with my girlfriend (a very educated woman) the other night when she used the word ‘vapid.’ I immediately complimented her on the use of a “good word.” I’m not sure she knew how to take it. Thinking, perhaps, that I was actually insulting her. So I explained that I liked when people used words like that, and gave the example of, naturally, ‘superfluous.’ It is sad that most people don’t have a very broad vocabulary anymore, and even more sad that people are actually starting to say “LOL” and “BRB” in conversation. If you told the average person that you found them vapid and thought they were superfluous in every manner, and that, by the very act of respiring, they were committing an affront to all those beings dependant upon oxygen for life. I can practically guarantee you that most would look at you and reply, “Huh?” I won’t blame the school systems entirely, although you could certainly lay some of the blame at their feet. The simple fact is…no one reads anymore. To some, the simple suggestion that they read is a subject of such incredulity it borders on the impossible. (I know…good word, right?) I know reading is not for everyone, but for the love of all that is Holy at least give it a chance. Pick up a book…there are millions, if not billions, of books in circulation. Trust me, among all those books there is something of interest to anyone. It’s not even necessary to go to the library, or a bookstore. You can download an app on your phone, download a book, and read it…right there on your smartphone. I don’t think that the downfall of education in the United States is happening in the class room. I think it’s happening at home. It is a deep, deep topic that I will not delve into here, but part of it is that people simply aren’t reading anymore. If you have a young boy, give him a Hardy Boys book. If you have a daughter I bet she’d be into Nancy Drew if she gave it a chance. I really liked The Boxcar Children and the Redwall series as a child. I’m not saying you have to force your kids to read, but upon the pages of books you can fly to wondrous worlds and fantastic places without ever leaving your bedroom. What’s more, reading teaches one to use their imagination, rather than to rely on someone else to imagine for you. Try it…pick up a book sometime…you might even find you like it.
Connections. Life is connections. Even a shut-in that only goes out for groceries is recognized by the cashier from time to time. There may be no interaction, but there is still a connection. These connections happen in all sorts of way. You are connected with your family, with friends, with people you see at the store, or at work. I post articles to this blog, and have a YouTube channel. I’m connected with the people that read my articles and watch my videos, even though I will likely never meet them. I even play a stupid little game on my phone (Clash of Clans) with people from Australia, England, various Asian countries…all over…I’m connected to those people. These connections can be positive, neutral, or negative. I do my best to make every connection I form a positive one. The truth is that this is a Sisyphean task. It is a futile struggle, as you cannot, no matter how hard you try, make everyone happy. You see I have some pretty simple aspirations. When I die, I want the people at my funeral to say two things. I want them to say I lived my life, and did not sit idly by and let it pass me, and I want them to say that I made a positive impact on everyone I met. I try to live my life that way. I try to live it, and I try to make a positive impact on everyone I meet. That means several things to me, but that’s for a different article.
I love reading. I’ve always wanted to write. That’s what this is. That’s why I started this blog. I wanted to write. The thing about writing is that you have to have something to write about. That’s what I struggle with the most. For every line you read I’ve written dozens more that have been deleted, or saved to be revisited later. At this point I’ve written for the last three or so hours and have nothing to show for it. I’ve written about religion, politics, and saving the world. I didn’t like how any of those were going so I just decided to write. They call this stream of consciousness. Just writing what you are thinking about. So here it is. I just watched Tombstone on netflix, and started For a Few Dollars More just to have something on in the background while I type. These old spaghetti westerns are so funny. They have terrible acting, and terrible acting, but they have good stories. I think that’s why I like country music. Country music songs have really good stories. You can do a lot with a good story. You can make a hero, or a villain. Oftentimes whether or not a person is the hero or the villain has very little to do with ideals, and much more to do with how they carry out those ideals. Robin Hood was a thief, but he robbed from the rich to give to the poor, and so he was a hero. Meanwhile, General Frank Hubbel (The Rock, 1996) wanted to provide money to the families of soldiers killed in black ops missions by the government. A worthy cause, but his methods made him a villain. Incidentally, as I watch For a Few Dollars More I ponder…why do people mount their horses from the left? Turns out it is because in the days of yore, soldiers mounted their warhorses from the left because they wore their swords on the left. So if they’d mounted them from the right side their sword would have gotten in the way. Which, I’m sure, is why motorcycles have their kickstands on the left, so that you mount from the left. Well, it’s late. I’m going to have a snack and go to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to write something a little more meaningful.
Consider the penguin and the sparrow. Both birds, but a sparrow can soar on the winds, high above the clouds. Throw a penguin off a cliff and all that’s going to happen is PETA will be giving you a call. Conversely, penguins can dive to the depths and survive in climates that would kill a sparrow in minutes. They are both birds, but they are completely different, and need different things to survive. Is the penguin wrong for swimming, or living in the frozen south? Is the sparrow wrong for flying? No. You see…we are all different. We are all unique. Different from each other…but different doesn’t mean wrong. Is a penguin wrong for swimming? Is a sparrow wrong for flying? You see there are things I am passionate about, and things I’m not as fond of, but just because those things are different from someone else’s doesn’t make me right, or them wrong. It just makes us different. The penguin doesn’t fault the sparrow for flying, so why should I judge someone for choosing to swim? I’m straight, white, and christian, but that doesn’t mean someone who is gay, black, or muslim is any less human than I am, just different. If an animal with the brain the size of a peanut can understand that being different doesn’t make you wrong…how is it that we…the most ‘civilized’ species on the planet can’t? Embrace those differences, revel in them, celebrate our diversity, and realize that it is that very diversity that makes us strong. A penguin can survive in a frozen wasteland, while the sparrow can fly. What one of us can’t do, others can, and that makes us mighty.
It’s not that bad. Take a second…open the drawer…pull out whatever you are worried about right now, and apply the previous statement to it. Chances are things aren’t that bad, and even if they are…well…as my old boss used to say, “Let’s just freak out about it, that’ll solve everything!” I know it’s hard to convey in text so I’ll just clue you in…he screamed that in a voice that reverberated to the mountaintops with sarcasm. Life is hard, and we all have problems. After I graduated college I spent a great deal of time worrying. So much so, in fact, that there were weeks that went by where I only slept a couple hours each night, because I was up worrying. The questions were endless. I knew when I went to college what was ‘supposed’ to happen. I was supposed to get good grades, meet a girl, graduate, get a good job, and start a family. Boy did that go wrong in a hurry. Sure…grades were pretty good, and I met a couple girls…none of whom stayed around for the duration, graduated…found out that having a degree in History with minors in Sociology and German doesn’t look as good on a resume as one might think. To quote the Ozzman…I was goin’ off the rails on a crazy train. At this point I suppose things could have gone many different ways. Luckily for me they spurred on a need to self-discover. I began to delve into the darkest parts of my being. Laying bare the raw stuff that made up my very being. I didn’t pull these things out and wave them around, but examined them closely in the dark of the night as a miser with his hoard. Who was I to question the path upon which I had trod? No matter what you believe I had arrived at that precise moment in life by design. Whether you believe in God, or fate, or in the perseverance of man I was where I was supposed to be. At that moment there erupted within me a certainty, an absolute and resolute knowledge that the secret to happiness was not in following ‘the plan,’ but in allowing the plan to unfold before you. If you were on a trail in the forest at night, you wouldn’t wander away from it, but wait for the sun to rise, revealing the path for you to follow. Ah but caution traveller…do not sit and wait for the trail to move under your feet…that is folly…it is not the way of trails to move you along them. They merely lie in wait, longing for you to tread down them. So if you are lost in the dark and cannot see the way. Wait steadfastly, and when the way is revealed do not worry what lies at the other end…the destination is not important, all that matters is that you do your best to get there.
I was born in the mountains of West Virginia. I grew up there. I moved away to make my life. I did my best to find myself amidst the crush of asphalt, steel, and glass. I found that my life was the mountains. I dreamt of returning home to those mountains. My soul yearned to be free of the press of hollow sounds and meaningless conveniences. “Why would you want to live there?” This was the incessant and incredulous question forced upon me again and again. If you stand in the shadow of the mountain, amidst the sound of the wind in the trees, and smell the air, and you do not know why I would want to live ‘there’ I cannot explain it to you. It is much simpler, but much more complicated. You may wear a watch, but it will not give you the understanding of time to which you have become accustomed. Time is different ‘there.’ It is measured in the work done, the words exchanged with friends and family, or, most simply, in the rise and fall of the sun and the stars. You can look at a map, measure the miles and examine the contours, but they will not show you how far you must travel, or how close to the Heavens you stand. To truly understand the passage of time, the distance travelled, or the height of your climb you must listen first to the beat of your heart, and the song of your soul. You may come here and mourn the lack of ‘civilized’ diversions, and the convenience of shops that never close. I plead with you to forget those things and open yourself to the flurry of colors that blow on an autumn wind. Permit the sound of busy to fade from your ears, and hear the gentle crystalline sound of snowflakes settling to the ground. Allow the neon to drift from sight and take in the shadows of the night. See the stars, see they gentle sway of branches in midnight’s breath. Leave the empty warmth of electric heat behind and let the soft crackle of flaming timber soak through you…warming not just your body, but your soul. If, despite your best efforts, you find yourself yearning to leave behind the quaint and backward ways I find so comfortable; I weep for you, but I understand. ‘There’ does not speak to everyone. Each of us have our ‘there,’ and I can only hope that you will come to know your’s.
So I’m sitting here getting spooled up for the day. I’m cooking and eating breakfast…I’m enjoying a few cups of coffee, and I’m watching the news. See, for a long time now I’ve just gotten my news from the internet, but I decided I should probably try to stay more plugged in. So, I started watching the news a few days ago. I was hoping it would raise my awareness and involvement in our nation’s goings on. Unfortunately all it’s raised is my blood pressure.
I’m sitting here watching these people who live in New York or D.C. talking about raising gas tax. How it is important to raise it so we can maintain roads. The reasons stated were that roads are in overall poor condition and gas is at the lowest price it has been in a year. They said if you didn’t want to pay increased gas tax you can take public transportation, and that we have the lowest gas cost in the civilized world. OK…couple things here…First, the state is taking care of the roads here in rural WV…so we don’t need increased Federal Gas tax (which will most likely be misspent anyway). Second, I don’t know if you’ve been here, but we don’t have public transportation. We HAVE to drive, and many of us have to drive 30 minutes to an hour. That’s a lot of gas. Third, not that I’m concerned about how our gas prices relate to other country’s, but it should be noted that European countries are the size of our states, and the people that live there are much more condensed. So they have better and much more comprehensive public transit systems. I hate this trend of people relating things here to things in Europe. It is NOT the same. Our country is bigger than that continent. Our people are more diverse, and much more spread out. Not to mention that at our foundation our cultures are fundamentally different.
They were also talking about how the nonessential personnel that were furloughed weren’t being missed now, but we would miss them…eventually…Sure…whatever. The truth is that our government doesn’t even vaguely resemble the government that the founders envisioned for us, and we are much poorer for it. The government is bigger than it was ever intended to be…it is bloated and clumsy. It is an obese drunkard staggering to the alley to relieve itself, then staggering back into the bar to swill down free drinks paid for by the people.
Well folks, this article has the feeling of a good rant developing, but I have to go to work. So I can earn a paycheck. So I can pay my taxes. So government employees can make more money than me, get free cars, free gas, and free health care, and so people who don’t want to work can wait by their mailbox for a check from our Socialist government.
Montani Semper Liberi
I know it’s been a really long time since I posted a blog article, but I’m going to get some more rocking for you soon. The main reason I haven’t written anything for a while is that I’ve been trying to get my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/shdwsnpr) off the ground. I’ve gotten several videos out, but it’s as hard to get subscribers on there as it is to get subscribers on here! Well, a lot has happened. We are currently in the midst of the government shut down. We have police shooting unarmed, crazy women in the streets. People setting themselves on fire. China telling Obama to get his stuff together. Obama saying that he won’t negotiate with Republicans even if they put a gun to the head of American citizens. Things…are…crazy. So, hopefully in the midst of the chaos we can find a bit of clarity. Anyway, just a short little article for now. I’ve got big plans for today (squirrel season is in and I’m off work) so I’ll be back with another article in the near future.
One thing I’ve noticed in life is that, in most cases, people are much more like to escalate a situation than to deescalate it. Two people are arguing…no one says, “Whoa…let’s dial this back, step apart for a few minutes, then come back and hash this out calmly and rationally.” No, they just keep yelling louder and louder…interrupting each other, talking over each other. Well, when you are a gun owner…you have the ability to immediately escalate any situation from verbal arguments, or suspicion of wrong doing, to violent action.
Here is an example. You live in a secluded area, and one night you hear a strange noise. Upon going outside you notice three men looking into your car with flashlights. You grab your 12 gauge from just inside the door, rack the pump (secretly and foolishly hoping the sound will scare them off), they look up and see you. What you have just done is take a situation that you didn’t fully understand, and escalate it to a violent encounter, and you are in the wrong. If those three men are all carrying legally owned firearms and a gun battle ensues…let’s say you take out one of them cold, wound another, but the third wounds you. When you go to court those survivors could claim (regardless of whether or not it is the truth) that they noticed a suspicious man near your car. They drove him off, and were using their lights to make sure he hadn’t stolen anything. Suddenly, a crazy person (you) threatened their lives with a shotgun, so they drew their weapons and returned fire. Congratulations…you are now a ward of the state, and a drain on my tax dollars. Now this might seem like a crazy example, but I think it proves my point. Producing a firearm into a situation is the ultimate escalation. You are taking any situation and introducing lethal force to it.
As a gun owner, and especially as a concealed carrier, it is your responsibility to deescalate any situation to the best of your abilities. You possess the power of life in death, and can wield it with the squeeze of one finger. This is a grave responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly. I don’t want to scare anyone away from concealed carry, or firearms ownership. I just want you to look at yourself and ask some crucial questions. Am I capable of controlling my emotions? Will I get angry, upset, frustrated, jealous, and not be able to control my actions? If you are the kind of person that hurls your remote at your thousand dollar tv when the home team blows a huge lead to lose an important game…maybe you should think about what you would have done if there had been a gun sitting next to you. To borrow a phrase…carrying a gun is a lifestyle…once you adopt this lifestyle it becomes something that you have to build your life around. I’ll be honest…if there is one place I probably shouldn’t carry a gun, it is when I’m driving in urban traffic, because I get extremely frustrated with other drivers, but luckily I have done a lot of serious introspective inquiry and have found the strength and self-control to control myself.
Remember that a firearm in the hands of a civilian is a weapon of defense, not offense. Soldiers in a combat environment can be proactive, and strike enemies without warning. A civilian must only use violent action when threatened with violent action, or when defending someone else from violent action. Now, I’m not saying that you should wait until someone shoots at you to use a gun in defense, but let’s go back to our previous example. If you simply stood in the doorway and yelled at the three men looking into your car, “Hey, I called the cops and they are on their way.” they likely would have run off. If, by chance, they drew weapons you would be totally justified in producing your shotgun and opening fire (hopefully while properly utilizing cover and movement to avoid becoming a quick casualty.)
By way of a personal example, I like to sit facing the door when I’m eating in a restaurant, or, if not directly facing the door, then at least at a right angle so I can watch it with my peripheral vision. If someone walks in (a suspicious looking man in a cut off tshirt and ripped jeans, wearing boots, and rocking some tattoos), and I can tell he’s carrying a gun…I probably shouldn’t jump to conclusions and draw my firearm…several reasons. One, well…that’s generally the kind of clothes I wear when I’m not doing anything important on a day off, or if I’m working outside. Two, I have tattoos. Three, I carry a gun everywhere I go. So essentially, I just drew a gun on myself. This leads me to four…if someone pulled a gun on me when I walked into a restaurant, my instinct is going to be to draw my firearm and put rounds on target to neutralize the threat.
Guys, I know this has been a long article for a seemingly common sense topic, but when I talk to people they don’t seem to get these things. So, I would rather beat the dead horse than see someone get in trouble because they needlessly escalated a situation by introducing a firearm into it. I hope you’ll think about this, guys.
Montani Semper Liberi
Man…tensions are running hot huh? Look…as always I’ll give you my opinion. Look…by law Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty…obviously there was not enough evidence to convict him of murder, and that makes sense, because no one but he and Martin know what happened for real and Martin is dead. Now, as someone who carries a concealed weapon everyday I’ll say this. No one I know that carries concealed would stop their car, call 911, and when 911 instructed them to remain in the vehicle…get out and follow a suspicious person. Why? Because we know the law…use of deadly force is only authorized when you, or someone else is being threatened with deadly force…someone walking down the sidewalk suspiciously doesn’t meet that standard. The reason Zimmerman was found innocent is because it is clear he was attacked and responded with force to protect himself. That constitutes self defense. Am I defending his actions? No…because as a person who intelligently carries a gun on a daily basis…being all day every day…I don’t agree with his actions.
Ok, tough point for a lot of people to accept…why in the world is this case such a big deal? I mean…people are killed every day without an obituary, let alone a headline…so what is it? Is it that an armed man killed an unarmed man? No…that happens every day too…Oh…I got it…it’s that an armed white man killed an unarmed black teenager. I’m sorry if you think that’s racist…but if you listen to the news you will quickly ascertain that this is, above all, a race issue. If the situation had been reversed…and it was ‘just another black gangbanger’ killing ‘just another poor white guy’ no one would care. Trust me…and again…I’m sorry if you think I’m being racist…trust me…nothing could be further from the truth. I’m merely pointing out the trends I’ve seen in the media…so if you want to blame someone blame them. I understand both President Obama, and Reverend Jackson are calling this a travesty, and are extremely upset by the outcome of the trial. Well, I guess Zimmerman is lucky that they aren’t part of the Judicial system…checks and balances ya know. More importantly…why is this one death so important and the thousands of deaths a year in Chicago don’t seem to matter…isn’t ole ‘Barry from there? You would think he would have noticed that it is the murder capital of the United States…and consequently the only state without a concealed carry law…until now that is…that’s right…the US Supreme Court ruled their laws unconstitutional so they have to enact concealed weapons laws now. Oh? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Well the liberal media doesn’t like to talk about it much, but Chicago has the strictest gun control laws in the US, and the highest murder rate. They blame it on the guns coming across the border from Indiana, but Indiana has a concealed carry law…and many more guns…and easier access to guns…and lower crime rates. Sorry Barrack…I don’t buy that you really care about T.M., or the safety of the American people…I do think you’d like to strengthen the power of the Federal Government at the expense of individual liberties…well…this is all my opinion of course…as always…comments and questions are welcome.
Montani Semper Liberi