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Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Gun Story: The Real Story – An Autobiographical Sketch


Mr. Peace, John Lennon,
Himself Ironically Slaughtered With A Handgun:
HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN
NOT!
Until January 2007 I spent my professional life primarily trying to serve those with mental disabilities—those diagnosed with retardation and/or mental illness—as a counselor, a direct care worker or running programs as an assistant manager, manager, director or as a case manager. It was rewarding work, but I was in the throes of various problems myself and my professional record was inconsistent. I don’t beat myself up and I believe I did FAR more good than harm for sure. I honestly believe that my best work and the infinitely most rewarding work I had the opportunity to do was the unscripted work of talking informally behind a closed office door one-on-one with clients of all descriptions. I’ve had the chance to engage a huge variety of people; from a mentally retarded convicted and self-confessed rapist to a person diagnosed with schizophrenia who held two master’s degrees. I’ve worked with homeless persons as both a professional and a volunteer and I’ve also done both paid and volunteer counseling with addicts and alcoholics. I’ve counseled and ran a jail diversion program for offenders from their first day out of jail or prison and also done so on a personal basis and as a volunteer. It is these one-on-one opportunities to hear people’s deepest concerns and having the opportunity to help people in this way that I miss the most about human service work. I can say that without reservation, and I can also say that this was my forte within the panoply of human service responsililities I adopted—I believe that this was the best work I did in the field.
Missiles: I Simply Despise The Suckers!
Whenever Anybody Breaks Out A Missile Or Two
You Know The Party's Over!
Yuck!
Since January 2007 I have been disabled and not working full time in any capacity whatsoever. In the summer of 2010 various situations caused me to begin writing and publishing, the first of those projects being this blog site, Unabashed Left. I’ve since garnered several more websites (two at Examiner.com and now I’m writing for CBS now, as well) and began a course of academic study at Hartford Seminary. It is my goal to become fully self-supporting and leave disability behind. I have been beset with a series of medical challenges however, yet I still am optimistic and fully expect this disability to be a temporary chapter of my life in the not-too-distant future, God willing.

Now that I am out of the counseling business, I find it interesting and instructive that friends, acquaintances and others have found me to be someone they like to share their personal difficulties with, and I’m very content and happy with this circumstance. I spent much of my life having emotional problems of my own, and was a loner and introverted for most of the first 50 years of my life in my private persona. Though I was a good counselor and good in other areas of human service, my own existence was a sad one in many ways, but definitely lonely. When I made the choice to seek help for a tendency toward addictive behavior in 1993 things gradually began to change. Since then I’ve had friends, romantic relationships and life has been much better for me, including emotionally.

Since my disability, but particularly since beginning to write and to publish (there is something about writing and having people actually read my essays and articles which has transformed me in many ways from a reasonably contented individual, to a more complete human and one who has a degree of peace and satisfaction which I never would have imagined possible—and it is for this, more than anything else that I owe thanks to my hundreds of thousands of readers, now, over these couple of years) I have changed and am different in many ways. I am more animated, confident, joke MUCH more, more positive, less fearful of others, and more willing to take risks in my personal life—not irresponsible ones, but to ‘think outside the box’ in order to experience new things and consider new possibilities in life.

What I find interesting is that I make friends much more easily, and that even casual friends and acquaintances seem to trust me, and take me into their confidence. I truly am honored by that. When a person unburdens themselves in an office behind closed doors when you’re on a payroll for doing so it is much different than when people unburden themselves and tell you their most intimate concerns, worries and even ‘secrets’ simply because they trust and like(love) you. Often folks choose one person to confide a problem (or problems) to in life, and I find myself in that position extraordinarily often, and that just makes my day whenever somebody trusts me that much. I guess it shows that I’m proud, that whatever attributes I have that cause others to trust me in this way, that people DO choose to trust me. I love to joke and kid, and enjoy small talk somewhat, but I’m a person who really prefers to delve deeper into issues and into moral, ethical, psychological and ethical concerns. I love, obviously, to discuss politics and religion, for example.

A few evenings ago I was out around town and ran into a casual friend. We joke a lot, talk a lot about politics—both local and national—and we’ve also spoken at length about his dissatisfaction with his job, with how he’s treated as the manager of a retail chain employer, and I’ve offered help with seeking another position and have heard him out about his concerns quite often. He’s a great guy, single without kids. And, while he’s responsible in his job he is dissatisfied with his lot there and in other ways it has seemed to me as well. We were speaking of a common friend who is a recent single mother and who has had many personal problems in recent years (she is very young and we are both concerned about her and now about her baby). I tried to help this young woman at one point, and it didn’t pan out so well, and she has sought the help of my friend, and we compassionately discussed her situation.
As we spoke of her plight, he began to recount a tale of his own from years ago. He started to tell me about a time when he lived atop a restaurant/bar that his father owned, apparently. There was a commotion downstairs as he related the story, and he went down to check on the situation. His father’s place was being robbed and a gunman was there when my friend arrived. My friend shocked me by saying that he “pumped three shots into him.” He said that he had a license to carry a handgun at the time and he began to relate some of the graphic details of the scene which followed. I asked my friend “Did he make it?” My friend replied “No, I waited too long to get a hold of the police…” and I could see that this was not a good time to conduct this VERY personal and important conversation with my friend. He had to return to work, so I assured him that I wanted to hear the rest of the story but that we had better do it at another time. It’s obvious to me that this fellow is in need of sharing this story with me, but while he has my phone number and contact information, I only have his work number and know only his place of work and the town he lives in.

I most definitely AM a pacifist, for reasons I will go into shortly, but certainly can understand this man’s situation and do not judge his actions. I look forward to giving him the chance to finish up sharing his story with me, and I think that once he does that, our friendship will change dramatically. I’m certain he didn’t bring this topic up either casually or unintentionally, and as I mentioned earlier, I am honored whenever somebody chooses to share such personal stuff with me.

It was a half hour walk home for me following that talk, and I found myself reflecting on the Trayvon Martin case and the difference between the predicament my friend found himself in, wherein he felt he had to defend his father against a gun wielding thief, and George Zimmerman who pursued and shot dead a 17 year old unarmed high school student. It also firmed up my conviction that these ‘stand your ground’ laws must be reversed!
One more story if you’ll bear with me. A good friend of somebody very close to me served a very long prison sentence, implicated in a manslaughter which involved the handgun killing of one man and the severe injury of another surrounding a robbery. This fellow served out his time in state prison. Obstacles of all sorts are thrown up at ex-convicts, both bureaucratic and otherwise. First of all, simply finding legitimate work with an arrest record is almost impossible. And now, in the state of Connecticut and many other states, double jeopardy is ignored and a fine levied against inmates in the form of multi-million dollar ‘rent’ charges levied upon them when they are released. So when an ex-convict does succeed in finding legal work, they not only have to pay federal and state income tax, their Social Security tax, but also now the state levies an additional 20 to 30% tax on their income to collect the back ‘rent’ for their accommodations in prison. This friend of my friend, who has served his time, HAS been working legitimately for a long time since his release. This fellow has a girlfriend who he loves and he treats her grandson as if he was his own. He supports her and helps out with her family’s expenses too, especially those of the child. I’ve had the opportunity to see him in a swimming pool playing with this kid, and the kid loves this man as though he were his own Grandpa! And this gentleman, and that is most definitely the word for him (you’ll find nobody more respectful, polite and well-mannered in this day and age) is a great handyman and dedicates most of his spare time to helping out others for no pay and often at his own expense (gas, parts, time and supplies).

As a little kid growing up (and please understand that I now absolutely appreciate and love everybody who raised me and were involved in that process) I was exposed to gravity knives, switchblades, brass knuckles, shotguns, rifles, handguns, some violence, and frequent police and emergency personnel visits to my home. I thought this was a normal environment, since I had nothing to compare it to. Before I was 9 one older brother was already off to jail and disappeared for 2 years (an eternity for a little tyke) without explanation (he died in 1993 as the result of a drug overdose) and later another brother was sentenced to his first long stint, serving 9 years that time (and 25 way too long years the next—thank God he’s out and doing well today—I love him dearly). The US aggression in Southeast Asia was at its height and my only other brother also disappeared by being sent in 1968 to some place called Vietnam! All I knew was that my Mom was scared out of her wits that this brother would be killed there! OMG!

My most popular article here at Unabashed Left is one I called “My Gun Story” (linked: http://unabashedleft.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-gun-story.html) and was my first piece of fiction, and I never intended to do any fiction here. It is more widely read by leaps and bounds than any other article here (second place goes to my satirical Newt Gingrich biography). It’s the story of my alter-ego, 11 year old left-wing Lisa who grills her pastor, protestant minister Reverend Sara, about her tendency to tell Lisa in private about the horrors of guns and violence, but to tone down her message when she’s in front of her congregation in the pulpit on Sunday mornings. I believe I have a calling to the ministry within the tradition of the awesome United Church of Christ.
We all are what we are for only two reasons. The nature vs. nurture controversy is a straw man. It’s both. We are all the product of our genetics and of our environment. Period. And until we reach the age of majority, we’re not even legally responsible for the environment in which we find ourselves. The reality is that none of us are responsible for the environment in which we were raised. I didn’t line up and say I want this family and this town. Nobody did. I have no regrets for any of that, I love my life today and all those who were involved in creating it and for all aspects of my upbringing, good and not-so-good.

My genetic structure, the environment in which I was raised and everything which has transpired since then, including my religious tradition (I am a devout Christian) have caused me to be a self-proclaimed pacifist. It’s a controversial title, and the definition of the term itself is worthy of hours of debate. It’s controversial even among my liberal and Democratic friends.
I love the two men outlined here who are in one degree or other responsible for the handgun deaths of another. I love those who have served in uniform and have killed with guns. I despise guns. I believe a global ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns would be a great leap forward in the evolution of our species. I AM A PACIFIST.
AND THIS IS MY GUN STORY.


Yoko Ono has continued much of John's work and check out the Lennon Peace Prize at this link: 
yoko-ono.com



3 comments:

Cindy Dailey said...

Wow! I just got thru reading your story. Wow! So honest, openminded. I will be honest with you Left. I feel so bad for Trayvon's family and I feel so bad for Zimmerman's family. It's very very sad for all involved. Thank you so much for the great story. Everything happens for a reason. And I do believe God puts everyone in our life for a reason. Peace to you friend

Unabashed Left said...

Thank YOU so much Cindy! Wow, I luv this! TYTYTY!

Marylou Knapik-Przybylinski said...

Dear Unabashed Left,
I share your pacifist attitude. Guns are designed to kill and create a culture of violence which is almost impossible to control. Thank you for this well written piece!
Your friend,
Marylou Knapik-Przybylinski