Opinions, Writing

Is the price of an opinion too high?

When someone offers an opinion, they are essentially “putting in their two-cents”.

If someone wants to know what you think, they might say “a penny for your thoughts”.

These idiomatic expressions both suggest that the value of an opinion isn’t worth much monetarily.  I believe that the value is even less if that opinion is offered by the news media and/or the panel of “experts” that they love to assemble.

I prefer to define the word “opinion” using this analogy: When one seeks an opinion, they are usually looking for an accomplice.  In other words, they really don’t care what you think, they just want you to agree with their position so they’ll feel better.

Is two-cents too high a price to pay for free speech? Of course not, but two-cents is two-cents more than I would ever be willing to pay to sit for 5 minutes and endure the constant barrage of opinions being offered by the media.

Everyone seems to have an opinion…and a motive. Maybe if we closed our mouths, opened our ears and turned off the TV, we might just…who knows? But that’s just my two-cents.

Here are a few thoughts from a gentleman speaking to George Strait in the movie “Pure Country”.  It’s short and he is right on point.

Opinions, Writing

We’re Acting Like Animals? If Only We Could Be that Evolved.

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Another mass shooting occurred today at a small church in a small town in Texas.  At this time, at least 26 have died and the suspect has killed himself…again. Same story, same ending; again and Again and AGAIN!  How often? I checked on-line for statistics with the intention of going back 20 years.  I made it to 5 and my hand was aching from all the writing. Yes, 5, V, FIVE,🖐 years and I had found 18 incidents of violence in the United States where at least 3 people were killed in a related event on a given day.

Date                 Location                    Dead   Inj.   Susp. Sex   Susp. Dec’d?    Notes

  1.  11/05/2017  Sutherland Springs, TX      26     Many      M             Y      Church Shooting
  2.  10/01/2017  Las Vegas, NV                       50+   500+       M             Y      Concert Venue
  3.  06/14/2017  San Francisco, CA                3        0             M             Y      UPS Co-Wrkrs
  4.  06/05/2017  Orange County,FL                5        0             M             Y      Co-Wrkr Killing
  5.  01/06/2017  Ft Lauderdale, FL                5        6+           M             N      Airport Shooting
  6.  09/23/2016  Burlington, WA                    5        0             M             Y       Macy’s Store
  7.  07/08/2016  Dallas, TX                              5        9+           M             Y       5 Police Ofcr’s
  8.  06/12/2016  Orlando, FL                          49      58+         M             Y       Night Club
  9.  12/02/2015  San Bernardino, CA            14      22           M F          Y       Hus/Wife Killers
  10.  11/29/2015  Colorado Springs, CO         12       9+           M             N       Plan’d PrntH’d

Ok, that’s half of my five year list. I’ll stop at 2 years and 10 incidents; you get the point. The numbers suggest that we are not safe anywhere, that males are more likely to kill and that when they do, most likely they will commit suicide when cornered. It’s that last part that really defines us; animals don’t commit suicide. What’s wrong with us? That question is for a far greater mind than mine to answer.  I have a few thoughts though, actually cliche’s.

  1.  Growing up, I was told not to hurt people, “it’s what separates us from the animals”.
  2.  In Humor, regarding the treatment of pets, “Animals are people too”.
  3.  Humans? “Oh, we’re at the top of the food chain”.

Unfortunately, I feel that we’ve managed to fool ourselves into believing that we have actually evolved beyond that of, well…us.  Our ancestors, hoping that humanity would improve with the passage of time, set the bar too high. They hoped we would become more civilized, intelligent and maybe put down the club; I mean, we’re not animals, right? Some have suggested that it is our intellect that makes us superior to animals, I’m afraid that it has just made us more dangerous. Human evolution? At this pace, we are going to “evolve” ourselves right out of existence. What is wrong with us, why are we killing ourselves at a record pace? I suspect that the answer lies hidden somewhere within our “animal instinct”.

 

 

Opinions, Writing

The ACLU, Why Aren’t You A Member?

Author’s note:  The mere mention of the “ACLU” evokes strong emotions in many.  Writing this article is akin to a doctor’s physical; not pleasant but necessary.  I ask you to open your mind for just a minute and then let me know what you think.

Before you throw your phone or computer across the room, please allow me, a Republican, an opportunity  to explain my position.

I’ll start with a partial quote from the movie “The American President”. “Being President of this country is entirely about character. For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren’t you? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights”

The fictional President does ask a valid question. Why are we all not members?Both Liberals and Conservatives will fight “tooth and nail” to protect our Bill of Rights, especially the sections that apply to their particular interest. It’s probably the only thing they have in common.  The ACLU, for their part, provides legal and to a lesser extent, political aide to either “side” in defending perceived violations of the United States Constitution.

So what is the problem with the American Civil Liberties Union and a large percentage of the American population?  Here are my thoughts.

  1.  The ACLU will consider fighting for anyone who feels that their rights have been infringed upon based, I’m certain, on the facts and/or visibility of each case.
  2. Many, or at least a majority of, Americans don’t approve of changes to “traditional” values, either religious or historical, such as gun owners rights etc.
  3. As the American society continues to “evolve”, for lack of a better word, many who feel disenfranchised are forced to seek legal remedy to either enforce a perceived denial of an existing right or privilege or effect a legislative change in which new laws and protections are created that  more accurately reflect, in their view, the needs of a “modern” society.
  4. Many of these legal challenges strike at the historical and religious core of the American value system and are often met by an entrenched and well funded legal/political opposition.
  5. Because of this “entrenchment”, many who have sought remedy have found and received effective legal assistance from the ACLU.
  6. The ACLU, because of its defense of many unpopular positions has developed a reputation of being a “liberal” organization.
  7. This is an unfortunate but understandable casting of their position as most “conservative” causes have many more “avenues” to find support in both legal, political and financial terms and therefore rarely seek their assistance.
  8. Bottom line, the ACLU has been successful at bringing unwelcome change to conservative traditional Americans.

So where do I fit into this? I would describe myself as fiscally conservative and socially, somewhat, liberal; an odd combination. In Abraham Lincoln’s time, this would have made me a candidate for the Whig Party, of which he was a member.

I have been a member of the ACLU for about 10 years. I rarely agree with their position on current issues, but I’m eternally thankful they exist. The ACLU represents “Checks and Balances”.  Could you imagine if one of our political parties had ALL of the power without opposition, without the ability to question? History has shown us the effects of this before. Think Germany, 1939.

I voted for Trump and I haven’t changed my position, but could you imagine if  there were no opposing voices to any President’s political ambitions? Balance is essential.  Balance allows me to sleep at night.  I draw comfort in the fact that whatever the issue, there is an opposing position. In a perfect world this should bring compromise, even though today it seems to bring only gridlock.

Society is growing and evolving rapidly  and though we may not like where the pendulum is currently, the ACLU’s caseload generally reflects the issues of the day. In the 1950’s it was race, today it’s different.  We all benefit from a spirited debate and a thorough examination of all the facts, whether we agree with the issue or not.

I support the ACLU because they give a voice to those who may have gone unheard and they remind one side of the equation that an different or alternate opinion may exist and that it’s supporters are ready and willing to defend it.

I’ve Included a few examples of the cases in which we’ve all enjoyed the benefits of the ACLU’s efforts.

  1.  Brown v. Board of Education
    One of the century’s most significant Court decisions declared racially segregated schools unconstitutional, wiping out the “”separate but equal”” doctrine announced in the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision
  2.  Gideon v. Wainwright:  An indigent drifter from Florida made history when, in a handwritten petition, he persuaded the Court that poor people charged with a felony had the right to a state-appointed lawyer.
  3. Miranda v. Arizona: The Court held that a suspect in police custody has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel and a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and established the “”Miranda warnings”” requirement that police inform suspects of their rights before interrogating them.
  4. Reed v. Reed:  Struck down a state law that gave automatic preference to men over women as administrators of decedents’ estates. This was the Court’s first ruling that sex-based classifications violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

 

 

Opinions, Writing

Humanity, Violence and The Serengeti

Like many others, I’m struggling with the “why” regarding the recent shooting in Las Vegas.  Why did he do it?  Was he crazy, angry, frustrated or all/none of the above?  Was there a latent issue, perhaps a medical condition that caused him to take this action?  The general consensus, at this point, is that he was “crazy”.  He must have been, right?  The current evidence suggests that from the window of a hotel he shot and killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more.  Does that act alone define one as “crazy”?  Be careful here, there are many documented cases of military snipers who have each shot and killed at least as many people or more.  Most are described as heroes of their respective countries and the word “crazy” is absent from their biographies.  Aside from their military feats, most were considered to be “normal people”.

The Las Vegas shooter’s life history has been placed under a microscope as law enforcement searches for a reason, the “why”.  We, the people, need an adjective to separate him from “us”.  We need some reason: he was crazy, he was angry and frustrated, he was…, something that we, the “normal people”, are not.  He needs a label and law enforcement seems desperate to apply one.  As of now, his life appeared to be “normal”.  To the rest of us, that is terrifying and unacceptable.  He needs to be labeled, and soon.  To think that all of us “normal people” could be capable of this behavior is “not normal”.

What is “crazy”, what is “normal” and who or what decides the definitions?

Merriam-Webster.com defines the word “crazy” as “1. a: full of cracks or flaws, unsound b: crooked, askew 2. a: not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason.  It continues in subcategories using words like “insane, impractical, erratic and unusual” and so on.

Normal is defined as “2. a: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule or principle. b: conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern. 3. occurring naturally. 4. a: of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development b: free from mental illness: mentally sound” and so on.

The common theme here is “mentally sound”; the word “crazy” suggesting that you’re not and the word “normal” suggesting that you are.  The dictionary defines “mentally sound” as “normal, sane”.

I suggest that the term “normal” is subjective.  Is it East coast normal, West coast normal, European, African, Russian or Iraq normal?  Talk about a broad spectrum!  I honestly have no idea if I’m even “normal”.  I’m reasonably sure that I’m not crazy, at least not normally.

Law Enforcement will keep digging and I’m quite certain that labels will be found and added.  We can then go back to feeling secure in the knowledge that he was different from us and definitely “not normal”.  I say that of course with a wink and a smile.

We can add all of the labels that we want and separate all of the people who, by their acts, are “different” than us.  But the sad reality is that we, the “normal people”, are really “not that normal” and are capable of anything and everything.  “Normal” people have had to go off to war and for a myriad of reasons, take human lives.  Some people have supported the death penalty and abortion, while others have not.  Death has been our constant companion throughout human history, always familiar and never far away, yet we still seem surprised when it occurs naturally and shocked when it is by our own hand or the hand of another.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter in Las Vegas should be pitied or his actions tolerated.  But, I am suggesting that we stop trying to always find excuses to separate “these” people from ourselves.  The reality is, they are us, an ugly reminder of what we are capable of as humans.  It would be nice to move forward as a species, to become less violent, but our track record suggests otherwise and morality cannot be legislated.  Aggression seems to be our default setting, being held in check only by a greater fear of punishment through the enforcement of laws and their subsequent penalties.  In other words, we don’t generally behave because we want to, we behave because we don’t like discomfort.

It’s the Serengeti out there and we’re nowhere near the top of the food chain.  We need to accept this as our reality, act accordingly and hope that evolution will move us in a peaceful direction.  To quote John Young, “If you want to see an endangered species, get up and look in the mirror”.

Uncategorized

Another Kind Of Story

Welcome to my second blog.  My first, Travelinggump.com, is where I write about my passion for travel.  But what about everything else? That’s where Thesunflowermuse.com comes in.

This is my “overflow”, non-travel, anything goes Blog.

So with that informative introduction,  it begins…

(“it” being World Domination or something similiarly bold, I mean, go big or go home, right?)