AMEND (verb) –

  1. To make minor changes to (a text, a piece of legislation, etc.) in order to make it fairer or more accurate, or to reflect changing circumstances.
  2. Put right.

Stop telling me that the Second Amendment is sacred, as though written in stone like words on high given with divine providence.  Saying that – believing that! – shows that you either don’t care, don’t want to care, have no ability to critically think, or have just simply given up in defeat.  It can be changed and it must be changed, and that very needed change is implicit in the word itself.  Amend – To change; to put right.  I mean, come on!  Do I really have to spell it out here?  The Second Amendment itself is a change from the original, apparently not so Almighty Constitution, so if you can’t recognize that it’s time to amend again and pass laws that will stop this insanity from recurring, then shame on you and the world is worse from your willful blindness to see what’s right in front of your eyes.  With the current laws, it was illegal for this kid to buy a handgun, but a high-powered assault rifle is no problem?  Are you fucking kidding me?  It’s time to amend the amendment.  It’s well beyond time to make things right.

This is not directed at any one person in particular, but rather in response to far too many comments I’m seeing all over the internet today. I know I have gun enthusiasts and responsible owners amongst my friends, and I’m sorry, but your hobby kills and needs to be taken more seriously by many of your peers.  I have friends and loved ones whose kids go to that school.  I was as terrified yesterday watching the news as I was seeing the plane smash into the second tower on 9/11.  Maybe more, actually, because I had real faces and names of people I know and love to add palpably to my fear.  I still can’t come anywhere near imagining the horror my friends were going through yesterday waiting to hear if their children – THEIR CHILDREN – were going to come home from school alive.  My anxiety was as high as it has ever been, so to even try to imagine theirs?  Impossible.  None of my friends lost their children yesterday.  Some of their friends were not so lucky, and that spilled blood is on many hands.

And please don’t anyone come back at me with the bullshit about the need for an armed militia in case the government goes off the rails. Your government has weaponized drones, heavily armoured tanks, a goddamned air-force, chemical weapons out the wazoo, and the ever-loving atom bomb. Your assault rifle is a stick and a stone in comparison and you know it. And if your argument to that is that you need to be prepared to stand against your government and therefore the laws should be even looser, to put it bluntly, you’re an idiot. A dangerous idiot.  To be on even-ground with the government you’d basically need to allow anyone to own a nuclear bomb.  Anyone.  The dumbest and craziest kid you knew in school.  Your argument is foolish and moot and you know it, and the current gun laws in the United States as they stand today are flat-out insane, and you know that too.

I end this as I often do with the urging to call your representatives, local, state, and federal, and make some noise.  And if turning a whisper into a shout doesn’t work then buy a bloody megaphone.  They can’t ignore you if you don’t let them – it’s their job.  The gun lobby may have more money, but the people have more votes and the smart politicians know which one is really worth more.  Your voices will be heard if enough of us are all wailing the same thing.  Push them to make the change.

Amend.  Put it right.

Looking for a Little Bit of Peace on Earth

Every single year my wife asks me what I want for Christmas, and every single year I give her the same response: “Nothing. I’m Jewish.”  Then she tells me to be serious, so I reply: “Peace on Earth.”  Every year, the exact same conversation, verbatim.

While many or most (or all one of you who actually reads this) may think I’m joking or being facetious, I am not. That is 100% what I want for Christmas this year, next year, and every other year.  I want World Peace, and while it’s fun to joke about it, I am completely serious.  Day in and day out, I look at the news and all I see is misery, violence, heartbreaking heartache, legislated and legitimized insanity, and then, of course, a filler story about Pussy Riot or a monkey in a designer coat to distract me from how depressing the rest of the world really is.

I look at Israel and Gaza and I want to weep.  I see Syria imploding all because a megalomaniac refuses to see how his own selfish whims and wishes are destroying a generation of his citizens.  Drug Cartel wars in Mexico leaving scores of innocent citizens dead on the streets.  Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Congo, and Sudan… People fighting and dying for any number of conflicts or reasons, all over the world, and for what? So that those who are in power can stay in power.

A citizenry with a defined enemy will band together in solidarity, and therefore ignore the internal problems of their governments and lands.  This is a propaganda trick that has been going on basically since the idea of government formed – If we give them an enemy to be afraid of and feel threatened by, they will have no choice but to ignore the enemy within.

The US government used this tactic most artfully immediately after Sept 11, 2001, pushing through some of the most criminally questionable legislation to steal away the American right to privacy, and they were applauded for it all in the name of security.  “Oh, you want to steal my rights and my expectation to privacy?  Please do, and take some cookies on your way out!”  People were out of their minds with fear.  People were angry at this Other, in this case Islamists, who attacked them.  People needed to protect their kids, their livelihoods, themselves.  The enemy was everywhere, the enemy could be anyone, maybe even your next door neighbour!  In the name of safety, we have wire-tap the whole lot of you, read your e-mails, use whatever you say in private and personal conversations against you, all in the name of making peace.  Mind you, no peace was made – Instead two wars, one a very bad idea that was poorly planned, and one that was entirely 100% illegal and had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, came out of all of that.  But that was okay – we were safe, and we were going after the bad guys.

So, how did that work out for the US?  Hundreds of billions of dollars in debt and countless lives maimed, ruined, or ended, and nothing has changed.  Sure, Saddam is dead, but what did he have to do with September 11th?  Weapons of Mass-Destruction – Oh, look! Another lie used to scare us into supporting the supplantation of a tyrant, and yes he was a tyrant, but he was no threat.  Iraq was just an excuse to spend a lot of public money so that a few private corporations could earn a windfall, and even after that all finally came to light, nobody apologized to those of us who decried that war as dirty and illegal from the beginning. Lives were lost, how dare we ask them to admit they were wrong, that their profits were made off of the backs of soldiers who will never see a dime, and are all but forgotten once they return home, emptied shells of the people they were before they went away to kill in the name of God and country?

We are a very selfish species, but more than that, we’re also stupid.  We are ignorant, most of us purposefully so.  We choose which news stories to talk about, and which to ignore.  Pussy Riot is a legitimate news story in Russia, but on the day those women got arrested for their publicity stunt, dozens of miners striking for their rights were slaughtered indiscriminately in South Africa, all for sticking up for their human rights to work in safe conditions and earn a livable wage.  Guess which story took over the internet that day?  The one with the relatively attractive ladies and the word Pussy in it, of course.  Who cares if a bunch of black people in South Africa got slaughtered – Charismatic people are going to jail in Russia for disrupting and disrespecting a church service!  Honestly, the only reason Pussy Riot became a household term, even if just for a few days, was because the news producers thought it would be entertaining to make their anchors say the words Pussy Riot over and over again on live TV without cracking up.  Don’t believe me?  Ask a news producer.  Outside of Russia, it was a non-story, other than their funny name, and anybody who understands how news programs are made will tell you that’s the truth.  Well, they might not tell you on record, but they know.  The word Pussy sells more ad space than a bunch of dead Africans.  People are interested in Pussy, whereas Africans die violently all the time.  We live in a lovely world, don’t we?

Wars cost us all a lot – The lives of our soldiers is obviously the biggest cost, in my opinion, but then there are also the tax-dollars, the increased prices for goods and services during time of national instability (oil companies, I’m looking at you on this one), the families broken because one or both parents have to go far away to fight a bunch of strangers who most likely had nothing to do with whatever caused the war in the first place…  Humanly, financially, spiritually, the price of war is staggering to the point of being incomprehensible, and why?  For what?

Greed.  Piggishness.  Control.  We willingly let our governments lie to us.  We willingly allow them to prop scarecrows up before us so that we can tear them down and feel better about it.  If the Israelis are all forced to hate the Palestinians, then the infighting between the ultra-Orthadox and the non-secular Jews gets thrown to the wayside in the name of a common enemy.  Same thing for the Palestinians – If they’re busy hating on the Israelis, they are therefore actively ignoring the crimes perpetrated against them by their own government – A citizenry kept in poverty while the lucky few drive around in bullet-proof SUVs and live in armoured fortresses.

Last week, after the NRA in the US made their statements about putting more guns into the hands of the people as a response to Newtown while at the same moment a nut went walking along the highway in Pennsylvania, randomly shooting people, I posted a link to the story with a “Deep, deep sigh” on Facebook.  Immediately, one of my friends, a gun enthusiast, came down on me for blaming the NRA, which I was not doing, but we’ve all become so defensive of our opinions from having the other side attack us so blatantly, ad nauseum, that he had a knee-jerk reaction, and I don’t blame him for that at all.  But, once we got the conversation on gun control going, it sincerely became one of the best experiences in Social Networking I have ever had.  Unbelievably, and unlike our politicians, there was held a very balanced and respectful debate over gun laws and gun control, and guess what?  Once we put our political affiliations and right or left leaning tendencies aside, a very healthy and fruitful conversation was had, and you know what else?  Pretty much everybody realized that we were all arguing for the same thing.  We couldn’t see that because we had all of these man-made political divisions until all of that was put aside and we got to the crux of the matter – Nobody, gun enthusiast or not, thinks kids should die, or that potentially violent mentally ill people should be allowed to legally get their hands on a weapon.

Until we learn to question our governments, to speak up when we know something isn’t right, to not be bullied into acquiescence out of fear, there is no hope for peace.  Until we learn not only to speak, but to listen, to respect, to stop calling each other names and pigeonhole ourselves with labels, to fight with logic and thoughts for the greater good, to hold each other up instead of tearing each other down, there will be no peace.

So, what do I want for Christmas?  World Peace.  And it’s in your power, dear reader, to give it to me.

Thank you, and bless you all.  Especially if you read this whole thing!