Ponder This

Why is it whenever any natural or manmade disaster occurs, or a tragic event unfolds, or a violent act is committed, or an innocent life is taken, or humans are deprived of their loved ones by calamity, people beseech, pray to, or petition their God—the one being who at least in theory could prevent such occurrences—to offer comfort to those afflicted?

silhouette image of person praying
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

It seems counterintuitive to seek such consideration from a being believed to be omniscient and omnipotent; the very abilities necessary to prevent such things in the first place.

I, for one, have a question for this being should I ever find myself in a position to ask it.

“God, why do you allow pediatric cancers and how come there’s never been one miracle in the history of the world where you grew back a limb?”

Pray if you like, beseech your god if it gives you comfort, but bear this in mind, this same being either couldn’t or wouldn’t stop it.

(Author’s note. The image is not who some might believe it to be. There are no photos from 2000 years ago so please take no offense)

I Have Seen the Light

How could I be so naive?

How could I not recognize the truth?

Of course the Democrats and the deep state pulled off the greatest fraud in American History.

Of course they managed to manipulate not one, not five, but every court that heard the case.

Of course they destroyed all evidence; every single last document, hard drive, or program.

Silenced every single co-conspirator (of which there must be hundreds of thousands if not millions.)

Masked every bit of a trail leading back to them.

And the only person who has seen through it all is the greatest President in the history of this country, nay the entire history of all leaders, Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump alone has stood firm in the truth.

Mr. Trump alone has dared shed light on the darkness of this conspiracy.

Mr. Trump alone has been telling us the truth all along.

And how is it I’ve come to see this light? Because Mr. Trump alone-despite the hundreds of witnesses, the numerous and false convictions of the January 6th patriots, the thousands of pages of falsified so called evidence-said it must be so.

I have seen the light, and I hope those Americans fooled by this insidious cancer growing on our American democracy are starting to see it as well.

For those of you who haven’t, look up sarcasm in the dictionary. Google it if need be.

Are You F#$%ing Kidding Me?

I came across this headline for an Op-ed piece in Newsweek, Uvalde Shooting Reveals Hollywood’s Deeply Flawed Take on the Police | Opinion by JESSE WILLIAMS AND JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS. I urge you to read the piece, so you’ll understand why I titled this “Are you F#$%ing Kidding Me.” https://www.newsweek.com/uvalde-shooting-reveals-hollywoods-deeply-flawed-take-police-opinion-1716254

But even if you don’t, just these first few paragraphs will illustrate why the piece is so outrageous, biased, and, frankly, misguided and dangerous nonsense.

“One thing is for certain — the myth of the police officer as the good guy with a gun, protecting and serving the community, is costing our lives. Police have been negligent or violent or both and lied about it for years, but this feels like a watershed moment in which the perception of the general public — shaped, among other things, by decades of positive portrayals in the media — is finally catching on to it.”

https://www.newsweek.com/uvalde-shooting-reveals-hollywoods-deeply-flawed-take-police-opinion-1716254

Again, are you kidding me?

Their point about Hollywood misrepresenting the police is correct, but it is hardly by making them heroes. Instead, Hollywood portrays officers in one of several generalities; alcoholic misanthropes, rule-breakers who ignore the law for the “greater good,” or Navy Seal-level marksmen who shoot five people while getting their morning coffee and remain on duty even as the dead bodies continue to pile up.

Hollywood portrays the realities of police work as well as they portray the realities of interstellar travel, it is all fiction.

The one point the authors did get right in their article—which clearly seems to favor eliminating the police as a viable solution for a better society—is that the public perception of the dangers of police work is out of proportion to the reality.

Policing is not the most dangerous job in America. Statistically, commercial fishing, logging, and roofers have higher rates of job-related fatal injuries. But statistics only tell part of the story. Cops get hurt or killed at work by people who intentionally harm them. While other jobs may be more dangerous, that risk is purely accidents or negligence. Cops get attacked and ambushed.

The authors also focus on the Uvalde, Texas incident as an example of Hollywood’s glorifying cops allowing them to conceal or obfuscate their actions or failures. Perhaps the authors might want to consider waiting until the entire investigation is complete before they jump to conclusions.

Hollywood portrays the realities of police work as well as they portray the realities of interstellar travel, it is all fiction.

Joe Broadmeadow

They are guilty of the same things they accuse the police of, pre-judging a situation absent any evidence.

However, the topic they raise is valid. Is the militarization of the police—something Hollywood does emphasize in many of their programs—a danger to effective police-community relations?

From that perspective—something I think needs to be discussed as part of the overall strategy to reduce gun violence in America—I would suggest you read this piece by Professor Arthur Rizer

Riser is the founder of the ARrow Center for Justice Reform and an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. He is a former police officer, federal prosecutor, and U.S. Army combat veteran.

Police Militarization Gave Us Uvalde

The adoption of aggressive, military-style tactics and weaponry has put American policing on the wrong track for decades.

By Arthur Rizer

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/police-training-militarization-mass-shootings-uvalde/661295/

The piece—written by someone who has the perspective of both a line officer and a military veteran, points out the clear and necessary differences between civilian law enforcement and military tactics. While the piece may anger many of my friends who are still serving as police officers or retired like myself, it points out that while supplying police departments with military surplus weapons was well intended, it has become a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Police departments must be equipped to respond to the reality of the nature and number of weapons proliferating on our streets. They sometimes need to use fatal force. But if we constantly reinforce through training and the police culture that every encounter is likely to be potentially fatal to officers, yet don’t adequately train them in other tactics and alternative methods to respond to situations, we end up with an army of occupation not a law enforcement agency.

The nature of violence in America—be it guns or otherwise—is a complex problem. Finding a solution to the problem will involve many different efforts. One is a thorough and honest evaluation of how we select, train, and deploy police officers.

Hollywood is strictly entertainment. It is not a source for a realistic portrayal of what officers face on the street or how they respond. Finding ways to change the insular us vs. them mentality between cops and those they encounter will take time and thought. Something we have not always done.

But articles like the one in Newsweek do equal if not more harm than the actions of a few officers. And while I would defend their right to publish the piece, I would also demand they at least attempt to make the article balanced and reflective of the complexities of the problem.

Cops are not perfect; they are human, and that is what we want them to be.

What Would Jesus Do?

At an appearance before a conservative Christian group called the Charis Christian Center, Rep. Lauren Boebert made an attempt at humor to illustrate her opposition to gun control. According to news reports accompanied by video, Boebert joked,

“They like to say: ‘Oh, Jesus didn’t need an AR-15. How many AR-15s do you think Jesus woulda had?'” she said. “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert

https://www.businessinsider.com/lauren-boebert-jesus-didnt-have-ar-15s-save-his-life-2022-6

My first reaction is Boebert doesn’t need to make any attempt at humor. Her congressional record, public announcements, irrational train of thought, and general view of the world could be considered downright hysterical except for the fact she’s a sitting member of the Congress of the United States.

Clearly, she and others like her are one of the reasons many try to gain entrance into this country by any means possible. If someone like her can be elected to Congress then this country surely is the land of opportunity with minimal standards of intelligence.

One other point. Had Jesus—or any other “historical” figure from the pre-industrial past—produced an AR-15 (instead of, say, turning water into wine) to defend themselves from the government I might have to reconsider my doubt about divinity and the existence of God.

(Although if God does exist, and has a sense of humor, creating people like Boebert and others like her is pretty funny. I can hear the heavenly laughter now. “No, no really they elected her to represent them…unbelievable. Even I couldn’t pull off a miracle like that.”)

Listen to the Rhythm…

I have always enjoyed walking. It gives one a perspective on things we often miss while driving. I loved walking so much I once walked 2,184 miles along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. If you are one of the last remaining people in the world who I haven’t told about the hike, now you know.

When I walk, wherever I walk, I often play music in my mind as a sort of pace setter. On the trail—yes, that one—I developed some favorites depending on the weather and trail conditions. On those days when it was not too strenuous, the song Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull set a good pace. On tougher days, with more difficult terrain or the frequent downpour, Stay the Night by Jane Olivor would run through my head, setting a leisurely pace and keeping my mind off the misery.

The days of long trail journeys of several months’ durations are over for me. But walking is not. We still walk whenever we can. Be it a stroll along an Aruban beach, a Croatian city, a Moroccan Desert, or just along the street, walking is still a pleasure.

Another thing has changed, the soundtrack in my mind—brought about by our most frequent companion on our walks, our grandson Levi.

When it comes to pushing a stroller, it would seem the theme from the original Mickey Mouse Club—which Levi enjoys listening too along with the soundtrack from Encanto, La Bamba by Richie Valens, Bamboleo by Gypsy Kings, and Barbra Ann by the Beach Boys—is the perfect rhythm.

Where once my pace was set by “In the shuffling madness of the Locomotive Breath” I now walk this earth to “Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me…”

Why? Because I love it….

I Pray We Stop Praying and Act!

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Marcus Aurelius

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome, why do we take this approach after each mass shooting?

Can we at least agree with this undeniable fact; after each horrific incident Americans gather in prayer beseeching their god to give them comfort, answers, and to prevent such acts in the future, yet nothing has ever arisen from all these efforts.

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The incidents continue with increasing frequency.

The death toll mounts.

The politicians join hands in these prayer spectacles invoking the same god and yet nothing changes in their approach to the problem.

Hell, they won’t even seek answers to define the problem or craft a solution

Perhaps the silence of the gods is the message. Either god can’t help or won’t help.

We are on our own for this one.

If god helps those who help themselves, perhaps god also abandons those who refuse to find their own solutions to a problem of their own making.

Take all the comfort you can in prayer. Take all the solace in your faith that it offers you. But don’t look for a solution to a human problem—a problem arising from our free will and stubborn adherence to our history and tradition of gun violence and the myth created by some invoking the Second Amendment—from a god. Look for it in your own heart.

I, for one, will be looking quite closely at those who seek office and accept money from those with a financial interest in preserving the status quo.

If we believe the right to bear arms is inviolate regardless of the loss of innocent lives without even bothering to seek a solution perhaps you should take a harder look at those images from Texas and imagine yourself standing outside that school as you wonder if your seven or eight- or nine-year-old is going to come back to you.

But you won’t. You’ll go back to your happy oblivion of willful ignorance of reality. If nothing changes, there are many more young children walking around with targets on their backs who won’t live to see their next birthday.

Let that thought percolate for a bit.

I have to think those who unequivocally embrace their weapons have an exaggerated and dangerous misconception of the safety those weapons offer.

A gun is only loyal to the person who pulls the trigger

If you’re willing to accept the inevitability of such incidents in the future, spare us the spectacle and empty words of your prayers, they are sound and fury signifying nothing.

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

  Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2

 

Recently, we celebrated the first birthday of our grandson, Levi. (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/04/24/a-celebration-of-life-and-the-future/)

The date of the party was actually five days before the true anniversary date of April 29th so of course we also had a celebration on that day. We also held back one gift to give him on the actual date.

However, the night before we faced an existential crisis. While wrapping the present—done by my wife, of course. My wrapping skills are commensurate with my artistic ability and anything I wrap looks like it has already been opened and discarded—we came to the moment when we had to sign the card.

Hmm?

What do we sign as? Grandma and Grandpa? Nana and Pa? Grand Ma Ma and Grand Pa Pa? None of them seem to fit, they bore too much resemblance to people in the past. Nothing felt right.

We faced a quandary.

While we had entertained the thought of being grandparents since the moment we learned our daughter was pregnant, we never seriously considered what new appellations we would bear.

I suggested we sign the card, Your Mom’s Parents, but this was vetoed.

So what do we do?

I had planned to let Levi assign the names. But at the moment he is on the precipice of learning to walk and his language skills are a cross between a mere collection of noises (some remarkably similar to other bodily functions) and Klingon so it might be awhile before this happens.

Who knew becoming a grandparent would bring such complex decisions? I thought all I had to do was get good at covering up any evidence of ice cream or convincing the child that failing to inform his mother about any of our unapproved activities involving snakes, launching model rockets, catching frogs, or riding a bike no hands is different from lying (not that I am planning such things, couldn’t be further from my mind.)

If Shakespeare was right then the name may not matter much. It will be the memories associated with whatever Levi ends up calling us. That will be the perfect choice.

Singing a Different Tune

I’ve written in the past how music is the soundtrack of memories. https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/02/19/the-soundtracks-of-life/ I spoke about how just the first few notes bring back memories of the moments of life. But today, my soundtrack consists of many different tunes from what my playlist might reflect just 365 days ago.

You see, today marks the first anniversary of the birth of my grandson, Levi David Walkup. While we all like to say today is his birthday, the reality is we only have one birth day and then an annual celebration of the date, and this first one is such an incredible milestone.

Now, the lyrics of April Come She Will or Marrakesh are replaced by London Bridge is Falling Down, The Farmer in the Dell, and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I now know all the lyrics to Encanto. (And no, we don’t talk about Bruno.)

Where once I would awake to the lyrical voice of Jane Olivor singing the song, You, playing in my mind, now I wake to the sounds of The Ants go Marching… (so far I’ve refrained from teaching him the alternative lyrics to the ants go marching three by three, the last one stops to take a …  but I will not be able to stop myself forever. He needs to expand his view of the world and music is a great venue.)

We are slowly introducing other music to him. We get him to dance to La Bamba by Ritchie Valens and, when I am alone with him, he rocks to Jimi Hendrix All Along the Watchtower or Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is by Chicago, but the other tunes consume the majority of his musical repertoire.

One year has passed in the blink of an eye and sixty plus years of musical memories have been replaced. These tunes may not win awards or climb the charts, but oh the memories they accompany.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah….

A Celebration of Life and the Future

On April 29, 2022, we will celebrate the first (of what will be many, many more) birthday of Levi David Walkup. To commemorate this event, Levi and I are releasing our first (of what will be many, many more) collaborative book project.

I give you Mortimer Moose and the Alphabet Zoo.

Available for pre-order in special edition hardcover and soon to be in paperback on Amazon for release on April 29. 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Mortimer-Moose-Alphabet-Zoo-Broadmeadow/dp/B09XFJC1X1

How Dare You, Disney!

How dare you, Disney, demand people show respect for everyone, even those they may not understand.

How dare you, Disney, embrace the Golden Rule and expect others to do the same.

How dare you, Disney, listen to your employees about business decisions. Why should they have a say in anything, this is business.

This is not an Image of the Florida Legislature or the Governor’s Office…although

How dare you, Disney, recognize that stereotypes and homogenized concepts of society are evil and wrong and need be purged from our lives.

How dare you, Disney, believe you know better than those who extract that which suits them from the “greatest book” yet willingly ignore the rest.

How dare you, Disney, think that using your resources to take the burden off Florida taxpayers would give you immunity from marching lockstep with the Governor in all his joyful (Christian?) policies.

How dare you, Disney, think you can change the minds of those steeped and marinated in hate and ignorance.

How dare you, Disney, claim to be the happiest place on earth when you try to create a better world that ignores the reality surrounding you.

How dare you, Disney,…. How dare you!