By JR Owens
My Dad rapped on the car window and I rolled it down with the hand crank, then he handed me a bag of potato chips and an orange-flavored soda. He assured me he would be out in a few minutes, but I knew it could be hours – depending on how the poker game went. That’s how things were then, in a small Midwestern town. You didn’t take your kids into taverns, especially in the neighborhood I grew up in.
Every now and then, when there would be no one else to care for me at night, my father would take me to the Derby Inn Tavern. Sometimes he would take me in the tavern and order a bottle of soda for me and let me hang around a while as he drank beer and talked with friends. Much of the time, however, he would leave me in the car in the parking lot outside. The men inside were playing poker, drinking, and many times a fight would break out, and my father was usually at the center of the fracas. “It’s no place for kids,” he would say.
I remember one evening with the orange soda and chips in the car vividly. Only bits and pieces of that night have stayed with me, but I remember how I felt. I remember a misty rain and droplets on the windshield. I remember the air was getting cooler and holding the bottle of soda only made my hands colder. What I do not recall is how the evening ended. Most likely it ended with him stumbling out of the tavern in a drunken state and driving us home. If he came out a winner he would be in a good mood and talkative, even happy and generous. He would have given me a hand full of change, and maybe a couple dollar bills.
If he came out a loser, or got into a fight he would come out angry and drive the car too fast and scare me. I would never say a word or make a sound; I wanted not to be noticed, for being noticed would put me in danger of being struck in the face. Either way, if he won or lost, after we got home he would pass out on the floor or the couch in the living room and I would disappear into my room thankful the night had ended.
This is how things were around 1957. People, times and attitudes toward children were different then. I didn’t realize I had a bad childhood because when it’s all you know, you have nothing to make comparisons with. This was my life at the time, and other children I knew had it pretty much the same way. Looking back at my childhood years later I realize I probably had it tougher than most, but I didn’t know it at the time. Reality is what you know and nothing else matters. You make the best of what you have and keep on moving forward.
I look at children today and compare them to myself at their age. They seem less restless than me, but they also seem to be less interested in the world around them. Children today have a different kind of imagination than we had because technology has given them new avenues to use. We created our own avenues with what little we had. We spent a lot of time outside playing and occasionally, in the evenings, may sit in front of a television for an hour or two. The games we played involved active participation and interaction with other human beings. Video games didn’t exist. Most of all, we were not angry. Had we been able to look ahead a few decades we might have been angry, but that was not possible. I often wonder where the kids today get their anger. A swat on the seat or even a slap in the face didn’t make me angry as a child, it only made me fearful and respectful. We knew we had to please to be pleased.
Where will today’s protected children receive what they need to wrestle with life in the future? This is a cliche, but there is a truth to the saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Where will today’s children draw their strength from? So many seem to be like empty vessels, floating through life looking for someone to blame for what they cannot possibly feel or understand in the first place.
Their is violence in the homes, streets and schools today, a kind of violence that was not present when I grew up. I fear for today’s children because I don’t believe they have the tools to deal with harsh times and the consequences of life. While at the same time, I am thankful for the times I grew up in and for the soda and chips.
By JR Owens
At the top of a news page this morning, I find a photo of two Syrian children with the headline “Syrian Families Brave Bullets, dash for safety.” When is the last time we held any concern for Syria? What I see in this headline is another corporate propaganda machine trying to sell us a new war. No weapons of mass destruction here, just poor little children who need our help. Bullshit!
Why don’t they show us pictures of poor starving abused children right here in our own country? Answer: because we are not suppose to feel sorry for the poor, neglected and abused in our own country. Here, the needy are just lazy welfare types who have brought the country to financial ruin. (LMAO) We have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than ten years now, so the Military Industrial Complex needs another war. (They have bombs to make) Fuck them! Let one of the other Middle Eastern countries help Syria. I don’t see us sticking our noses in the problems in Mexico or Honduras and they are a lot closer. Let the Middle East take care of the Middle East. It’s time for America to take care of its own.
IGNORE THE NEWS BECAUSE IT”S NOT NEWS. It’s understood that most Americans don’t trust or listen to politicians any longer. So, a handful of wealthy people have bought all the news outlets. Ah, now they have a better way to spread the BS, through the trusted news media. God help us! The press is suppose to protect us from tyranny not be their mouthpiece.
By JR Owens
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution that gives us the right to own firearms will take a lot of criticism over the months ahead. Assault weapons will be the chief focus of gun legislation because assault weapons are being misused, as in the case in Connecticut this past week. The conversation against assault weapons – dare we call them weapons of mass destruction – should also open up discussion about mental illness, parenting, security at schools what we can do to slow the violence on our streets, and particularly in our schools. Our children should have the right to be educated without the fear of persecution.
When I see the faces of the children who were shot to death by an apparent mentally disturbed young man I am saddened by this senseless loss of life. Unfortunately, I’m not shocked by these kinds of incidences any longer because they happen more frequently each year; I’m just waiting for the next shoe to drop. The very fact that violence, especially in our schools and around children has become commonplace is unacceptable.
I have never owned any firearm other than a 9 mm. pistol, and I had that for home defense and target shooting at a local shooting range. As many of us did, I grew up around guns. My father carried a pistol, my grandfather and uncles were hunters. A gun cabinet in the corner of the living room was not an unusual sight growing up. I can recall a shotgun hanging on a rack just above one of my uncle’s bed. Rifles, shotguns, pistols and ammunition for these weapons were everywhere. Guns were easier to obtain in those days, but I do not recall anyone going into a school a killing children. Our elders taught us to respect guns, and most of all; they taught us to respect them. So, when my grandfather or other male family member told me not to touch the gun, I didn’t touch the gun. I didn’t ask why, I just didn’t cross that line.
As a young boy my grandfather took me hunting. I watched as he shot rabbits and squirrels; I knew what guns could do and I was taught how to carry, shoot, clean and use a rifle and shotgun. Firearms were all around me but the thought of touching one of them without someone there to supervise me never entered my mind.
I have always been a gun advocate and I still advocate responsible gun ownership. However, when I look at tragedies involving mass killings by crazy people, it gives me pause to think and reflect about the issue. It is said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s also said that when guns become criminal, only criminals will own guns. While there is some truth to both statements, neither are good arguments to keep guns on the streets.
Outside of historic reasons, my gun advocacy comes from issues of trust. I don’t believe law enforcement can stop some strung-out meth freak from killing me if he wants my wallet. Even more, I don’t trust law enforcement well enough to allow them to be the only people who can have a firearm. I don’t trust our government, no matter what political party is in charge, I don’t fully trust them not to trample on my liberties as an American. I believe these are the same reason others stubbornly refuse to give up their guns; it’s all about trust.
The question is, do we allow our right to protect ourselves stand in the way of the rights of helpless six-year-olds and other innocent victims? The unselfish answer would be “no” we will not, but that’s not the answer we are going to give you because there is no issue that steps in front of self preservation.
We have come to a point in our history as human beings where self preservation is more important than anything. This mindset is part of our everyday life. We will protect our personal liberties at any cost. This protectionist attitude goes beyond our personal safety; however, it also includes our property and our ideals. If you’re wealthy you will trample upon anyone who attempts to take away your wealth. If you are a CEO of a corporation you will do anything to keep profits growing. If you are a television producer you will do anything to keep ratings high. On the whole, we believe in personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility and that people should earn what they have. Yet, at the same time, we have no problem stepping over someone else to get where we are going, wherever that may be.
The problem is not firearm ownership, no; it is much bigger than that. The problem we face today is ourselves. The problem we face today is poor parenting, inadequate treatment and placement for the mentally ill and disregard for the quality of human life.
The mother of this young man who slaughtered the children and educators at the school in Connecticut collected guns, and that collection happen to include assault rifles. While I defend her right to bear arms, I cannot defend her apparent disregard for being a responsible parent. She obviously did not teach her child what my grandfather and uncles taught me, respect. She presumably didn’t seek, or could not obtain help for her obviously troubled child, or maybe she just wasn’t paying attention. People don’t walk into a grade school and slaughter children unless there is something very wrong with them. How could the parent of this person not know this?
It’s obvious to me the blame for this particular incident rides on the back of poor parenting and a society that doesn’t believe, or doesn’t want to pay for, a troubled young person who needed care. It’s also obvious to me, that if he did receive care, it wasn’t working and someone should have noticed that.
Our society has come far too accustomed to violence. Our society has become far too selfish with its resources and our society does not teach right and wrong with the same vigor it teaches issues of less importance. If guns are the problem, we are responsible for the problem.
I do not want to see the right of gun ownership taken away. The Second Amendment is like the First Amendment that gives me the right to say what I think. Our right to free speech is protected and many things are said and done under that protection that hurt others. Yet at the same time, we understand that if that right in infringed upon we lose our ability to debate. Some negative issues will always arise from a positive one; in gaining ground in one area we will give ground in another area. Nevertheless, I must support a ban on assault weapons because I see no need for them for personal protection, target practice or hunting. Although I support the Second Amendment I understand that a little may need to be given up for the greater good. We simply have no need for assault rifles in our homes. Assault rifles were made for warfare. We are not at war with ourselves are we?