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The shootings in Parkland

Thursday night, I watched the CNN Town Hall about the Florida school shootings. All of the discussion was about gun control, which I support, but I am struck by the lack of discussion about why this violence is happening in our society.

What is wrong here? We need a serious reflection about our way of life. 


Guns are designed to kill. Guns are made to kill. Guns are sold to kill. And guns are bought to kill.

So why should any of us be surprised when guns are used to kill?

The sick American obsession with guns is the problem, and the NRA should be leading the fight to correct it. All of us should demand it.

We keep hearing about all the "responsible gun owners" who make up the NRA membership. If they are truly responsible, they will embrace the elimination of rapid-fire firearms and reasonable controls on the 48 percent of all the world's guns which are in this country.


My father died when I was young. Fortunately, I had two surrogates who took an interest in me and provided good role models. They were both World War II veterans who had seen people killed by gunfire, some by their own hands. They knew the terror and horror of bloody chaos personally and had somehow survived to become the most gentle and peaceful men I ever met. Both were pacifists who never touched a gun after their wartime experience.

Strong healthy adults are becoming increasingly rare as our society becomes more and more complex and distracted. What seems to be filling the gap is a growing culture of militarism in which men of low self-esteem dress up as soldiers, formidably armed, to face off enemies of their own invention: Jews, immigrants, people of color, the government... it doesn't matter. They just need a target for their anger and frustrations.

The internet provides the glamour of powerful-looking pseudo-warriors, men with guns – images that an angry young boy, eager to find a path to manhood, might crave. All you need now for a disturbed young boy to act out his fantasies is access to military style weapons. Apparently, that is no problem.

What are we to do? The internet is not going away. That leaves doing something about military-style weapons, around which dangerous fantasies are formed.

Elected officials seem to value the interests of the NRA, gun manufacturers, and military fetishists over the vast majority of horrified Americans who want military-style weapons removed from civilian society. No amount of tragedy – not Sandy Hook, not southern Florida, not the other schools where children have been slaughtered by shooters seems to move them beyond thoughts and prayers.

After a single incident, the Australian government bought back every privately owned semi-automatic rifle and made owning or selling them a serious crime. Gun deaths in Australia dropped by double digits in the first year. Can you justify voting for someone who facilitates this carnage simply because he or she won't raise your taxes or take your precious AR15?


On the morning news the day after the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, I heard a number of public officials say that we need to give our children the skills to identify kids who are a danger to the rest. Really? Teach kids to spy on and report on other kids?

I believe that discussions about gun violence don't go anywhere because we are talking about regulating the wrong things. Some of us want to regulate the objects; others of us want to identify and regulate other human beings that we perceive as "evil." But evil is not confined to one or two isolated human beings. Like decency and heroism, it part of human nature. Let's tell the real truth. It is anger – unrepentant rage and its consequent fear – that leads to these terrible things.

Wouldn't it be better to teach each other how to address the evil thinking within our own minds and hearts? We can put a stop to the appetite for guns, so that owning and hoarding and using them will have little appeal, if we work with the diversity of faith leaders in our communities to address our addiction to anger and fear.

Once that happens, wise people will agree to sensible limits on gun ownership and to providing the resources for compassionate mental health services. As an American Family, a family of faith, we can put a stop to this real American Carnage.


Watching the heart-breaking news coverage of the latest school shooting brings several thoughts to mind:

Murphy's Law states that anything that can possibly go wrong, will. This was a perfect storm of things going wrong. How was this really sick individual able to legally purchase perhaps the deadliest weapon possible?

Some of the survivors are demanding change in the gun laws. They just don't understand the reality of the situation in this country. The NRA will never let this happen, because they "own" too many Congress people. Too much money is being made for this to change.

Perhaps the head of the NRA and the CEO's of the companies that manufacture the AR-15 rifles could go to that school and hold an assembly with students and parents and explain to them how the shooter's right to own that gun was more important than the lives of the victims.

The countdown to the next AR-15 slaughter has already begun.


Immigrants can make us great

Mary Anna Towler questioned whether Republicans can put aside their own political interests (Urban Journal). It doesn't seem like it, but neither can Democrats.

Senator Durban's announcement of Donald Trump's queries: "Why don't Norwegians emigrate to the US? Why do people emigrate from S-hole countries?" embarrassed not only the president, but the entire nation, and compromised US diplomatic and economic relationships. He also failed to offer a meaningful and constructive answer to the president's question.

Norwegians don't emigrate because, in Norway, where natural resources are shared equally, the yearly maximum medical expense is $300. Mothers collect full salary for one year after a child is born, 80 percent pay for the second year, and then, free child care. Norwegians' sense of well-being is among the highest in the world.

In the S-hole countries, the most acquisitive subjects (or foreigners) control resources and enrich themselves while most citizens suffer with little or no sense of security. These countries are horrible, but immigrants from these countries are an extraordinary lot.

Consider two examples:

Philadelphia's Balch Institute displayed a board lashed to a large inner tube; this was the "vessel" used by a courageous and gritty Haitian to cross the Caribbean to the US.

A young undocumented Mexican, Mauricio, was gainfully employed in New York. He spoke unaccented, grammatically correct English. He had acquired a deep knowledge and fondness of US and New York history and architecture. He dutifully paid federal and state taxes, although he had no hope of receiving any direct benefit.

Mauricio was 12 years old when he came to the US, unaccompanied and with no knowledge of English. He crossed the border surreptitiously, at night, in a van with extinguished head lights. The van rolled over into a ditch. Mauricio, terrified, thought he was going to die, but he carried on, found a job, and used a public library to educate himself.

Individuals with the proven courage and grit of the Haitian sailor or Mauricio have the stuff to make America great again. Fortunately our native born sons and daughters don't need to risk their lives, but if the nation is faced with a real crisis, it remains to be seen if we native-born Americans would be as well prepared as our immigrants to manage real adversity.


'Open caption' your events

Susan B. Anthony is still fighting the good fight. At the recent Susan B. Anthony luncheon, all four screens at the convention center enabled diners to view speakers. Additionally, all the speakers' remarks were "open captioned" or subtitled. Attendees could read and (try to) hear the speeches.

Praises to the Susan B. Anthony House for enabling everyone to participate in the luncheon honoring a great fighter. How nice it would be if other large local groups (e.g., Lifespan) employed open captions at their large luncheons as well.


(McKenna is a member of the Rochester chapter, Hearing Loss Association of America).

Still missing Remmereit

In the February 14 issue, a reader's letter on the RPO and the fine Frederick Douglass cover story stirred memories of Arild Remmereit. For some of us, broken hearts.

Beginning immediately when he assumed the position of RPO conductor in 2011, the Maestro announced he would feature compositions by women over the centuries and works from many countries and cultures. No one-shot gimmick. This was emphasized in the orchestra's promotional literature, still accessible on the Internet.

In addition, for the 2013 Rochester Fringe Festival, though he was already forced out of the RPO, the Maestro created and conducted a sold-out program in Kilburn Hall honoring the life of Frederick Douglass. The evening included work by Beth Denisch, and there were women in the cast for dramatic readings, dancers, and a soprano soloist, as well as in the orchestra.

Brief hours of local history to recall where we missed the boat and lost Arild Remmereit. (He proved he could sell beautifully at the box office, too.)


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