Mojo is still trying to make sense out of Sandy Hook
Mojo had a pretty good Christmas. However, he remains deeply troubled by the incongruity of humans being all warm and fuzzy one moment and killing their young the next. He simply can't understand. I shared with him that it doesn't make sense. Humans are capable of great compassion and awful acts.
I hope that Mojo's pondering will be ours in the years ahead. We simply can't turn the page on the shooting rampage in Connecticut and go on about our lives.
As I've wrestled with what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, the words of Dr. King, whose birthday we are soon to remember, have come back to me, "unmerited suffering brings redemption." Perhaps the unmerited suffering of those children will lead us to a better way of living together.
One of those better ways is to take mental health as seriously as we take physical health. The profiles of shooters in recent tragedies are similar. Lonely, bright young men who've had a hard time making it. In their troubled minds, a violent frenzy seems to be the only way they can make a name for themselves and quiet their demons. Parents, teachers, friends, clergy, neighbors … we all need to be more alert to behavior that cries out for help. We as a nation should make more resources available for detection and intervention so that once trouble is spotted there is support for families to quickly get help. And sometimes that help must come even if the troubled person turns his or her back on it.
Another of those better ways is to revisit gun laws. As y'all know from previous letters, I'm a former infantry officer. Certain weapons, like the so called assault weapons used in many of the recent tragedies, should be banned along with large capacity magazines. From experience, I know that they are designed for one purpose — to lay down a base of fire so heavy that the "enemy" is suppressed. Even if there had been an armed resource officer or teacher at Sandy Hook, he or she would not have stood a chance. You don't hunt deer with such a weapon. I guess you could just enjoy going out to blow targets away, but there is no skill in that. My impression is that if the assault weapon ban had not been allowed to lapse, the terrible tool used by the shooter in Connecticut would not have been in his home and available to him.
Twenty years ago the Congressman I worked with was faced with the decision of whether or not to support the Brady Bill which required a background check when weapons were purchased at a store. He was reluctant. And then a person checked out of a mental hospital, bought a handgun at a gun store, went to a mall in our district and shot up the food court. A young husband and father was killed. Two days later, the widow was in our office, If the Brady Bill had been in effect, her husband would have still been alive. The Congressman became a strong supporter of Brady because statistics had taken on flesh and blood.
Perhaps that is where the children of Newtown will make a big difference in our nation. Their faces will not let us forget that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. As Scripture says, sometimes a little child will lead them.
I hope that we can move beyond those things that separate us — culture, partisanship, etc. and find common ground so that perhaps some redemption will come from the unmerited suffering of the children.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Watkins and Mojo
Tank and Jeep
are wondering …
Tank and Jeep are typical Labs. Their attention span is quick to change. If they start talking about a subject before I get to comment, they might see a squirrel and off they go. But here are a few of their quick comments they made over the holidays.
Tank was very confused the other day. He asked if everyone around here does not trust the national government, then why are they letting the U.S. set up their Health Exchange instead of doing it themselves? Here they have a chance to show us what is wrong with the way Washington does things and could show us the right way.
When Tank mentioned the Health Care, Jeep had a question. When we took a prescription to the drug store, the pharmacist quoted a price. When we said the drug was for Jeep and not we humans, the price went way down. Same drug, same strength, same amount of pills at a much cheaper rate. Jeep wonders why human medicine costs so much?
Tank has been following the news about the private information stolen from the S.C. income tax records. He knows we have been offered one year of free credit monitoring. He had two questions. If it is public knowledge that everyone has one year of free credit monitoring, what stops the hacker from waiting one year to sell the information? How much would the savings in taxes have been if we had spent the monies to set the system up correctly in the first place?
Jeep and I were out in the yard the other day. She stopped and asked about the police in schools. She heard on the news that the Mayor of North Charleston was going to put police in every one of the 21 schools. She asked how do you get the police so quickly? Are they there already trained? What have they been doing up to this time? Did it cost the taxpayers a lot to have all this extra police there waiting to be put in schools or who is going to do what they were doing before the school assignment? How much will this add to the taxpayers? If they are going to be in the schools, is this then a permanent cost? Before I could answer her questions, she saw a squirrel and was off. It was a good thing because I could not answer those questions.
Tank noticed my Don’t Box The Neck bumper sticker. He was asking about the issue. We talked about the jobs and that most of them would be part-time. Tank came up with a very good idea. He told me if you give a tax break or change zoning for a business, there should be a written agreement guaranteeing at least 60% of the new jobs be full-time. This way, he explains, it would not cost the taxpayers the monies spent for food stamps, rent assistance, etc. that often part-time workers qualify for in order to pay expenses.
The 2012 Senior in Need Angel Tree program, which is in its 14th year, was once again a tremendous success due in great part to the caring and sharing nature of all those individuals who participated.
Whether it was by hosting our trees, as Electronics, Inc. and Applewood House of Pancakes so graciously do, or by choosing an angel off one of the trees, the generosity and kindheartedness of the Pawleys Island/Litchfield community continues to humble me. It shows once again how truly blessed we are to have such a unique and philanthropic community which shines brightly through its giving spirit.
Once again reality shows that we are going through very tough economic times but, during this holiday season, compassion won out and our seniors in need were shown that they are cared about and our "earth angels" shared a great deal of generosity and joy toward them. The seniors through the Pawleys Island Senior Center, Meals on Wheels and St. Elizabeth Place were the recipients of Angel Tree gifts. A very special thank you to all of our seniors — each of us appreciates having been part of your holiday and being able to share the joys of giving with you.
The unwavering support of Electronics, Inc. and Applewood House of Pancakes is priceless to the success of this endeavor and there are not enough words to thank them for being the hosts of the trees and angels as well as the drop-off locations for the gifts. Each year they welcome us back into their businesses with open arms and I am grateful beyond words. Thank you!
For everyone who gave a gift or helped collect, organize and distribute all the gifts, you are precious and I thank you so very much.
The simple phrase "Thank you" never seems enough to say for all that has been done to make this the success that it is but those simple words come from deep in my heart and with a great deal of joy. Bear with me as I say it once again.
With kindest regards and wishes for a wonderful New Year,
Sheila F. Cook, Coordinator
Senior in Need trees
Hagley Estates, Pawleys Island
For whom the bell tolls!
The historic town clock is now tolling again. Good news!
Two issues remain:
• The Harbor Walk side still has no numerals or hands.
• Moneys donated and grants from government … taxpayers … have never been accounted for.
Can we get the repair job completed and can we get a revenue and expense summary with any excess funds returned to the various governments that provided them?
Deck chairs on the Titanic
When I hear President Obama or a member of his administration say the economy is improving and on the right track, I sometimes get a vision of that poor fellow arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. And other times I feel like the terminal cancer patient whose doctors have just told him his head cold is clearing up. Still other times I can imagine stock brokers setting around a table plotting how they can “up some lipstick on this pig”.
But what about the stock market?, you may ask. It’s true the market is above 13,000 and on a pretty good run right now. The only problem is soon it will all be Monopoly Money.
No more feeling safe
My brother’s family attended a children’s Mass at their church this past Christmas Eve. Toward the end of the service, unexpectedly, a man walked from the back of the church up the center aisle toward the altar. He was wearing a red suit and sporting a long, white beard. A gasp went up from the crowded church … not so much the sound of joy or surprise, but rather of consternation, especially from the adults. Was this person part of the program? Or was he an intruder come to do harm? For a few uncomfortable, worrisome seconds, no one knew.
Such is the world we now live in. There is no more feeling “safe” — not at our jobs, at a shopping mall, a college campus, a nursing home, a movie theatre, a first grade classroom or a house of worship, where even the arrival of a benevolent Santa Claus gives pause. Pro-gun advocates cite many reasons for the carnage in Connecticut — violent video games, mental health issues, lack of or absence of parental guidance. Each certainly plays a part. But let’s face it — guns make killing easy — insanely easy — pull the trigger once and mow down a room full of first graders. Easy.
There is no reason whatsoever for semi-automatic weapons and high-power magazines to be in the hands of civilians. None. These are incredibly lethal weapons of war. They should be available only to the military. Period. No exceptions.
“But,” the argument goes, “there are already over 300 million guns out there.” Well, I say you have to start somewhere. So let’s start by taking these weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the general public and giving mentally ill, angry or just-plain evil persons the means to commit mass murder. Because of the obscene influence the NRA exerts over our “Ieaders”, there has been virtually no dialogue at all regarding gun control — not after Columbine, not after Lancaster, not after Virginia Tech, not after Fort Hood, not after Tucson, not after Aurora, not after the other 55 mass shootings that have taken place since 1982. It took the bullet-riddled bodies of 20 dead children to at least start us talking again. At the very least the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004 should be reinstated. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
The sad fact remains that as long as we dwell on Planet Earth we will always find ways of harming one another. Let’s just please make it a little harder to do so.
Bernadine (Berni) Bader
Why so many guards?
We seem to be living in a time that we are not safe anywhere. In our home we are not always safe, because we fear loved ones. Society has advanced in so many ways. But, the more we learn it seems the more dangerous society has become.
We have security guards everywhere. We used to only have school bus guards on the buses and at the school to make sure the children can cross the roads safely,.
Now we have guards … in the hospitals … at the hotels … all the resort areas … even in the emergency rooms.
We can’t even go shopping sometimes without seeing a security guard.
We are not complaining because we’d rather be safe than sorry. But one can’t help wondering why society has advanced in some areas, but is still lacking in other areas.
Pray for the guards.
Mary Smalls Sargent
Opinions that appear in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.
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