Have you ever talked about the good old days? Do you ever find yourself comparing how things are now how they were then? What’s your relationship to change?
It’s all too easy to make pat assumptions about times gone by. And the looking glass mirror of age distorts the view in both directions. On one hand, the distant past often seems like a simple and less complicated time. On the other, it’s easy to think things are easier now and more convenient.
A political cartoon I saw recently in the wake of last week’s tragedy in Florida brought this into stark relief. An older man is telling a youngster the typical cliché: “When I was your age I had to walk two miles uphill to school in the snow while holding a hot potato.”
The child answers: “I had to hide in a closet while a mass shooter killed my teacher and friends.” The man says “You have my thoughts and prayers.” To which the child replies: “Don’t bother.”
As you well know, this isn’t the first time a horrible event like this has happened at an American school, (or church or movie theater for that matter). If this is the new normal we’ve come to, it’s not a comfortable one. It’s way too close to home, especially if you have kids in school like I do.
The handwringing will continue, and unless the root issues are dealt with this will continue to be the state of the union here in the USA. It seems to me like the arguments against changing the laws are stuck in the past while the technology, culture, and context have changed.
Many Americans cherish and idealize our frontier roots and the mythos of the Old West. I should know, I grew up on a cattle ranch in the Colorado mountains, and guns were a fact of life. Our ranch came equipped with a .30-06 hunting rifle, my dad still had his WW-II Navy-issued .45 pistol, and my brother had a .22 single-shot rifle for shooting tin cans and varmints.
Overpopulation of rabbits was a big problem on some years, due to the fact that the Fish and Game Department would exterminate the coyotes on behalf of the neighboring sheep ranchers. I lost Max, my beloved boyhood beagle to a cyanide trap placed on a trail.
So, at the time, thinning out the overly-abundant rabbits with the .22 was no big deal, I remember shooting a few myself when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and our other dogs definitely appreciated the “free-range raw-food” diet.
One year my dad harvested a doe for venison, but we weren’t that fond of the meat, especially having over 200 healthy grass-fed cows in our herd. Personally, I didn’t like killing things and never shot anything larger than a rabbit. I preferred capturing creatures like frogs or lizards, and releasing them after I was done enjoying their company for a while.
Fortunately for me, my interests shifted to music by my teenage years, and with the purchase of my first record, “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, my journey to life as a DJ began, (as witnessed by the photo above, spinning records yesterday at the Silicon ValleySunday Morning Ecstatic Dance in Palo Alto).
Back on the ranch, our guns were kept safely locked up on a rack, and all the kids my age were required to pass a hunters safety course. However, not everyone in Glade Park had the same approach.
Several miles down Beezer Creek from us was a very xenophobic clan from Appalachia who had acquired their property through the archaic custom known as “squatters rights.” No one had kicked them off for 16 years, so they acquired the deed and legal title to the land.
Their youngest son was my age, and a notorious bully, (but that’s a story for another time.) It was his family’s use of firearms as a method of intimidation that illustrates the point I’m making today.
His mom and his grandma drove around in a pick-up truck with a pair of hunting rifles in the gun rack in the back window. That was fairly common practice for the ranchers in our area.
What really made it clear that they were not to be trifled with was the loaded handgun that his mom kept strapped to the steering column, ready for use at a moments notice. His ancient grandmother always sat quietly in the middle, holding a double-barreled shotgun between her legs. Dropping him off at school, picking up mail at the general store, I never saw her out-and-about without it.
This clearly conveyed the message that they wanted to be left alone at all costs. Being from California, we weren’t used to that sort of “neighborly” behavior, and found dealing with them to be particularly difficult. To me, it represented the darker side of the gun owners mindset.
In the broadest sense, firearms are simply dangerous tools with dubious applications. Unfortunately they are all too often prone to misuse. Most of the peaceful democracies around the world have clear boundaries between what a farmer or rancher might need and the weapons used by the police or military.
It’s more a question of consciousness than a stark divide between right and left. You could be a conservative cattle rancher with a varmint problem, and still have common sense. It doesn’t take a huge leap of logic to think that maybe it’s not a good idea for military-style assault weapons to be readily available to anyone over 18 with money in their pocket, regardless of whether they’re angry or deranged.
The students stepping forward in the aftermath of this latest episode offer a glimmer of hope. Lawmakers who put the agendas of political advocacy groups above the safety of their constituents are due for a day of reckoning at the ballot box. Much like the #MeToo movement, the time for complacency is over.
Adding “Armed Guard” to the job description of your average teacher is not the answer. Nor is turning schools, (and all public spaces) into locked-down prison camps. The fact that the national legislative result of the past decades rash of mass shootings has been to effectively loosen the gun laws is disheartening, but awareness of the situation is the first step to making a change.
In every age, whether we like it or not, the personal is often political. And whether it’s now or the 1970s, these are the good old days. On this day where we pay tribute to some of the inspiring presidents of the past, let’s dance forward with idealism in our hearts, and awareness in our actions, and believe we can make things better for future generations.
With love for all, and a ray of light for the future, till next week!
DANCE FIRST MEDIA SPOTLIGHT – Dr. Christina Campbell and her book “The Dance of Psyche: Rhythm of Consciousness”
Today’s shout out goes to Dr. Christina Campbell who is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the publication of her groundbreaking book “The Dance of Psyche: Rhythm of Consciousness”
Described as a: “Healer’s journey for collective trauma through the use of posture, rhythm, images, and dreams. The Dance of Psyche: Rhythm of Consciousness is a tool for creating unity through dance to deal with tyranny. This is an intuitive way of knowing, healing the split with self, culture, nature and the divine using dreams and images as hope for survival and peace. The life force and being is discovered in the dance.”
Dance is a reflection of the Psyche
Through rhythm, the soul is remembered
Time suspends itself reaching infinity
The present moment is past and future at once
Temporal space becoms infinite shaping itself
in endless circles of death and rebirth
There is a flow of life—surrendering
we are the wind, fire, water and earth.
Love, sorrow, anguish and joy
The body relaxes, becomes softer
Capable of experiencing life and vitality
–of becoming vibrant human beings.
Because we are the life force that is the the cosmos
—capable of experiencing ourselves, expressing the story of
our culture, being at one with nature and the divine.
Thanks for sharing this with our audience Christina! The book isavailable online or at Book Passage in Corte Madera and Sausalito.