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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There was a "Guns Across America" rally yesterday at the Wisconsin State Capitol, similar to rallies at other state capitals. It wasn't very big compared to past rallies in Madison, probably about two hundred people, maybe as many as three hundred.

I was in the area doing errands, and stopped by to take a few pictures. I didn't stay long. It was a pretty angry crowd, angrier than any other that I've been among, and some of them were armed. It was also 100% "white," almost all male, and from their looks, not the most well-off or highly educated among us. There were more "Don't Tread on Me" flags than I've seen in the past, raising the question of who might be "treading" on so many people, and why. There were signs referring to Hitler, Chairman Mao, and, most bizarrely, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz.

Just as strange were the "leftists" who showed up, the usual suspects, but also much fewer of them than what one would see at "Tea Party" and other "right wing" rallies. There must have been about eight of them, no young people among them. One woman paraded around with a sign that said "Guns do not replace a penis." I'm no expert on these things, but in my experience this falls under the general category of looking for trouble. Arguments ensued, resolving nothing.

If this crowd is any indication, fervor one way or another about gun control is not the highest priority for the vast majority of people. There are 72 counties in Wisconsin. Even granting a high estimate of 300 people at the rally, that works out to 4.1666 people per county was represented at the event. For sure the number of extreme gun enthusiasts (read: gun nuts) is higher than four per county, but it is hardly a majority.

All in all, it was just another Saturday in Madison. My own view on guns is their appeal is to our lower nature, but the challenge in reducing shooting deaths is in creating a society that is supportive of our higher natures. We can start with progressive taxation, minimum and maximum income, a thriving public school system, and a de-empireization of our relationship with the rest of the planet. As it is now, we roll in violence like dogs on s#!t. When the smell is no longer attractive, we will find something else to roll in. Let's hope it smells good.

It helps to look at things within their broader context. I only stuck around the rally long enough to take some pictures, then went to the Walgreens across the street to buy some kleenex (not Kleenex) and other knick-knacks. I cruised by the magazine rack, hoping to find a Rolling Stone to browse through. I didn't see any, but did see plenty of what "Americans" are really concerned about: their bodies. Or, more accurately, their dream bodies. Wisconsin, known as the Dairy State, has a high rate of obesity, but by no means the highest rate in the country. We have a fat country. People are obsessed about their weight, but not to the degree to which they translate obsession into results.

There are other obsessions. Continuing my travels, I rode by Monona Bay, where the usual crowd of ice fishermen was tempting fate in their endless quest for mercury-laden fish. All it takes is a whisper of ice to get people out in their shanties, plastic buckets, or nothing - just standing there fishing.The temperature yesterday reached a high of 45 degrees Farenheit, making ice fishing a risky endeavor. It must be worth it. They are out there every day, as long as the ice will support them.

Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. We all have interests that seem crazy to other people. I followed a guru and lived in ashrams for about eight years. When I get my health care at the VA, my interest in holistic health is met with derision and/or condescension, though not as much as in the past. My advocacy of a zero-gowth "Steady State" economy is heresy in the Economics profession, but that is changing. We are in a time of ferment. We would do well to have a sense of proportion and balance about our various likes and dislikes. The Sun comes up every morning. It shines on all of us.

Here's one of the gun rallies, this time in Albany, the Capital of New York State.

We're all just everyday people, thankfully letting ourselves be ourselves (again).

Here's a little sunrise music. Happiness is a warm gun, except when it is being pried from your cold, dead fingers. Life goes on.

 Some gun "enthusiasts" haven't learned the basics of safety.

There are other things to be concerned about.


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