Sunday, December 4, 2016

Personal Safety- Will guns make us safer?

At a time when fear seems to be driving our society, safety is a major issue. Many people don’t feel safe. Many believe that the crime rate has increased over the past few years. The reality is that it has decreased significantly since the 1970s and that the ‘70s in many ways were the most dangerous times  for personal safety for people in this society. 
Unfortunately, the media does much to perpetuate the fear that exists. The old saying in the newsroom is, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Shootings and personal tragedies are at the top of the news broadcasts. We are constantly bombarded with ads for personal safety systems, alarms that will tell us if our house is being broken into and will alert the police. Many people believe that they must own a gun in order to be safe, and they are fearful that their guns will be taken away by the government. I own a gun, an old service revolver that I wore when I worked for the sheriff’s department many years ago. I must say, though, that it doesn’t make me feel any safer having it in the house. In fact, statistics suggest that having a firearm in the home makes it more likely that someone in your family may die, rather than an intruder.
And do we really need assault weapons with huge magazines? I doubt it. I don’t think the Vandals are going to be at the gate anytime soon.
Whether we feel safe or not has much to do with our perception of the situation.  This is not to say that there aren’t places one should avoid on a dark night, but how we see things has a lot to do with whether we feel safe or we don’t. If we believe that one event can make everything good or everything bad in our lives, we are likely to not feel very safe. If we believe that when bad things happen they are permanent and will never change, we are likely to not feel very safe. If we blame ourselves or other people for the problems that we face, we are less likely to feel safe. This is not to say that bad things don’t happen and that people should not be accountable for their actions. But believing that one event -- for example a job promotion or lack of it -- can make everything good or bad, or that when something happens it is permanent, either good or bad, or being engaged in the blame game makes us more vulnerable to feeling unsafe. Changing our thinking may go a lot further to making us feel safe than buying a firearm.
Dr. Ron Breazeale

The 2016 Election - Part Two

Dealing with the issues that divide this country.

In the last blog we talked about the present reality that we find ourselves in presenting a number of opportunities for us to address the issues that have separated us and continue to divide this country. We talked about the importance of connecting with others and communicating with others, specifically listening to others, especially those we don’t agree with. Being flexible both in our thinking and in our behavior. Specifically, trying in a different way to address the issues that we have been struggling with in this country for many, many years.

We also talked about the importance of dealing with your feelings and discharging and venting them so that they don’t get in the way of you thinking clearly in the present. And last of all, we talked about the importance of being optimistic about the future.

Things will continue to change. Everything, both good and bad, is temporary. And few things, even an election, have a pervasive effect on everything in your world. This was an important election and indeed things have changed, but much has remained the same. Especially the issues that divide us. And last of all, we talked about not getting into the blame game. Don’t get engaged in the scapegoating that will be occurring now. We can hold people accountable and hold ourselves accountable without blaming others.

And here are a few more on my checklist of things to do.

1.) Act on your values. We assume that many people were doing that when they voted. But that was only the start. We now need to make realistic plans for action and we need to carry them through. So far, a relatively peaceful change has occurred. We can learn from that. On whichever side of the political fence you are, change usually occurs slowly. At least I think that is true for lasting changes. Action, patience and hard work are required on both sides.
2.) Be self-confident that what you can do has an impact. Change has occurred over the last forty years. Significant changes. It may not feel that way to some people today, but as a child of the Sixties who grew up in a segregated South, a lot have changed. Granted, a lot has not. Our generation needs to finish the job that we started. We need to at least help the present generation, our children, to do this. Too many of us have given up and too many of us have sold out to the “greed is good” model of capitalism.

3.) Humor. Don’t direct it at the people who are different from you, the people you don’t agree with. First, try directing it at yourself. As Americans, we have done many miraculous things. But we should remember that many people in other countries of this world are amazed at what has just happened in our country. They might agree with Bill Murray’s line in the old movie, Stripes, when he says, “We’re Americans and we have been thrown out of every respectable country in the world.” They might also agree with Churchill’s quote, that "Americans can be counted on to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted every other option.” Part of listening to others is listening to other members of the international community and their perception of us.

4.) We need to take care of ourselves during this time. We need to throw ourselves into whatever cause we are promoting at present, but we also need to make sure that we get enough sleep, exercise, and maintain a decent diet. We’re not going to be effective advocating for anything if we are not taking care of ourselves, physically, emotionally and financially.

5.) We also need to take care of others. We need to care for our brothers or sisters in this country regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference or politics. We need to make America kind...again. There’s only one ship for all of us, and it’s THE USS UNITED STATES.

Ronald L. Breazeale, Ph.D.
Author, Duct Tape Isn’t Enough and First Night