Thursday, December 27, 2012

School shootings ~ where did it all begin and when will it end ?

     While the entire country is still reeling from the shock of what happened two weeks ago, early on Friday morning, I have been going down memory lane recalling similar inexplicable shootings that have spanned more than three decades. It seems to have escalated in the past couple of years and in reality it has just been a deluge that is increasing with time. In short, this is not a recent phenomenon. When Obama says that this has happened too many times in our country he's saying a mouthful. It is so saddening to think that with all the opportunities, blessings and wealth in this country we cannot seem to get past our societal ills enough to start tackling this particular insidious problem in the way that we should.
     The first outcry from the media, politicians and special interest groups is that the availability of guns is the culprit. It doesn't help- that's for certain. I would remind everyone, however, that people are responsible for the actual use of guns and there is too much irresponsibility on the part of adults and not enough caution taught to our children. It seems that no one wants to look at the real issue which is the actual people who are picking up tactical and assault weapons. If you Google the word shootings you'll get a long list of individuals who come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and backgrounds. These are people that shouldn't have weapons available to them at all. How would we disarm them if we can't even get a profile on them ?
     Let's go back to where I believe this all started. If someone can remember an incident prior to the January 1979 shooting in San Diego by a sixteen year old teenager, Brenda Spencer, please come forward to correct me. The details can be found on this link if you need to refresh your memory... 
     The callousness of this so-called flagrant act was a type of shield to the underlying mental problems and societal phenomenon that absolutely no one in a court of law can support in good conscience. In addition, it is an automatic dismissal in taking responsibility for how this type of human being becomes a creature subhuman to our sensibilities because they can perpetrate horrific violence when they themselves are in pain. Many parental adults promote and prize deflection and outright denial instead of teaching their children to take emotional responsibility for their actions. They do it without even thinking about what they are teaching their children. When these children or young adults try to navigate their immediate adolescent society, everything must be put back upright. Most likely they can begin to feel manipulated instead of being able to take control. I imagine it is much worse now than when I experienced it as a teenager. This problem has become much more complex since that time.
     In all the commentaries I have read in newspapers and online this single sentence written by the Catholic Archbishop of Denver stood out more than all the rest:  
"We're most often the victims of evil when we become objects- used for someone's else's purposes- instead of treated with the inherent dignity that comes just from being a person." 
Samuel J. Aquila
     The most difficult part of acknowledgement of these crimes is that the perpetrators are victims as well. Even if they are their own victim it doesn't help to view them as anything less than human themselves. We do not want to believe that we are capable of such an act, especially when it is perpetrated against the most helpless human beings we can think of- which are children. Were Brenda or Adam adults ? Was T.J. Lane's motivation similar in Ohio this February ? Was Jacob Roberts a local to Clackamas, OR ?  Was James viewed as a mental patient prior to the shooting in Aurora ? Was James Huberty, originally from Canton, OH, merely following a teenager's example when he left his house in San Ysidro, CA in 1984, telling his wife that he was 'hunting humans' and returned to the McDonald's he had stopped at earlier in the day with his wife and children and opened fire on the customers killing 21 people, wounding 19? Among that carnage were four young children. All of the above mentioned had numerous assault weapons. They also have one other attribute in common.
     They all fell through the cracks of early detection. I believe every one of the massacres I have mentioned here could have been prevented. If you read more about these individuals as human beings who started out life as a child and grew up to be the aberration which makes them cold bolded killers you will be a little closer to actually solving this problem. There is no sense in bringing in the strictest of gun laws and not dealing with the mental problems of these human beings. If you watch the following video- paying particular attention to the blonde woman, Pat Busher, who speaks about four minutes into it -you'll hear a very sensitive and meaningful response to this issue.
     I agree with her wholeheartedly that we must institute more and better qualified intervention systems than we presently have in place. Our social services offices are swamped with cases and run by people unqualified to handle or even identify the individuals I have mentioned. If they were qualified they would still need more staff to effectively handle the caseloads. Many cases of child abuse exacerbate to the point of the deaths of many children and the numbers in the Denver area are staggering. If the loss of twenty extremely young lives is not enough to wake us up to the root problem I don't know what will except something far worse. At present, I can't imagine what that would be and I don't want to find out.
     The other part to the solution is that parents need to be more involved with their children and those children who associate with their children. We all know, down deep, what to do to make sure our kids are safe, happy and yes, well adjusted.       

With deep concern,
The Castle Lady 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Recession ? Rescission !

      As a proud owner of a vintage copy of What Color is Your Parachute ? for going on twenty-six years now you'd think that I would've purchased a brand new copy since it is updated every year. Always jam-packed with great quotes, illustrations (some of castles!), great job hunting ideas, self-help tests and self-evaluation tools and much more, Parachute will help you find out how to get back to working or revitalize your life with a new career. Even for a self-employed person, which I have been most of my life, the information contained between the covers has been precious. The perpetual author is Richard N. Bolles who always welcomes criticisms and suggestions as to what he should do with his revision next year. He has been writing and rewriting this marvel of publishing since 1977 and the reading is delightfully uplifting. There is no dreary advice in it which instructs you to snap out of anything or to simply pick yourself up and dust yourself off. As a matter of fact, Dick's style is so positive that it is absolutely infectious and really helps you get those cognitive juices going again. 
     I have had the opportunity to peruse the 2013 edition recently which I borrowed from the library and noticed immediately on the cover that over 10 million copies of this book have been sold to date! I expected to see a lot of similarities with the revision but, in fact, it is practically a completely different book with plenty of online resources of which my 1986 edition is bereft. Online references were rather non-existent with the amount of technology readily available to the average consumer at that time. (There is one brief chapter for instructions on setting a priority grid (spreadsheet) on a computer other than an Apple with BASIC in the 1986 edition !)  
     The new book provides plenty of practical information alongside quizzes and worksheets to help you on job interviews, how to network, using social media, writing resumes, negotiating salaries or starting your own business along with prodigious encouragement throughout the book but especially in the Pink Pages which are located in the back of the book. Pink pages seem like a  reference for your individuality and trump cards for the rough road of getting back into the workforce. There is a lot more information on networking and the self evaluation worksheets have taken on a brilliant organization that is admirable. Mr. Bolles never claimed to be a literary maven and in this new version he explains in one portion of the preface why he often uses the English language in such an unorthodox fashion. Apparently he has garnered a plethora of disrespect from unemployed English teachers.
     With the 2013 revision, it is obvious to me that Dick has made a true mission of bringing each reader into a frame of mind that will help them find their bliss in employment. That alone is worth taking a look at and this book is not confined to those who are unemployed. It may well help you get out of the rut you are in now and help you find a job or employment which will give you the fulfillment you need in your life. Can we expect that in this shaky economy ? The answer to that can be found in the lyrics of a Tracy Chapman song:
If not now- then when?
With high hopes !