Category Archives: Justice

It’s Time to Save the World

“Is my English OK? Is the microphone on?” asked Greta Thunberg, in one of her most recent addresses. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.”

Laughter from the audience.

It wasn’t a joke. No one seems to be listening.

Nine years ago, when I was Greta’s age, I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t politically, globally, socially, environmentally aware. I wasn’t aware of what our biggest problems were–or that I, as a kid, could do anything about it, even if I did know what was happening in the world.

Nine years ago, I was LARPing (live-action role playing). For those who don’t know, LARP is a game wherein you create a character for yourself, dress up in costume, and run around in the woods at night, fighting faux villains with foam sticks. It’s like playing make-believe in the backyard when you were little, but on a larger scale, with maybe a better production value.

LARP comes in a number of forms, but the game I played was mostly like Dungeons & Dragons. It was a fantasy game. Swords and sorcery. Lightning bolts. Storming the castle. All of that.

While I knew that the events in the game weren’t “real” and that the character I played wasn’t “real,” they always felt important. They felt bigger than the small “reality” I actually lived in. I often felt that my character was better than me. She was stronger, prettier, freer. She had more goodness in her; more to give. I wanted to be like her in real life.

This disconnect–the idea that my character was false and somehow separate from me–affected my growth in a number of ways. I could write a book on it. There’s a lot to unpack. But the point here is that even after I managed to quit the game, I had a hard time developing an idea of who I was without that character.

Recently, with the changing of the seasons, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It would be the start of LARP season now, if I was still playing.

I’m still sorting through it, but one of the things that finally occurred to me was that I could be like the heroic character I used to play. I already was like her. She came from me.

But there were still situational differences, systematic differences between that character’s world and mine, dragging me down.

I posted this on Facebook:

larp

And, only days later, the sentiment was echoed by somebody else:

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I’ve been flailing for a solution. Something I could do to help the environment, and reconcile the reality of my apparent helplessness with the idea of once having played at being someone courageous and able to create change.

In this video, Jane Goodall advises people to act locally. “Quite honestly,” she says, “if you think globally, you get depressed.” Break it down, then. Start with what you know you can do. Do something. Even if it might seem small. “We’re all interconnected.”

I’ve been worrying myself sick. I woke up today with a sore throat, and a headache, presumably from my newfangled teeth grinding habit. In an anxious, somewhat dissociated haze, I drove to the store for some groceries, just to get out of the house. Everywhere, meat and dairy. Things packaged in plastic. Delicious things that I only felt bad about craving. I bought one of those chocolate bars that claims to help endangered species, and felt doubtful about its impact, but I hoped.

On my way home, it seemed like all I could see was trash. Scattered along the side of the road, accumulating in the ditches, washed up along the curb. Plastic bags blowing in the wind and caught up in bushes.

Enough is enough.

I found a metal stick–one of those garden hooks for hanging bird feeders or little candle pots–and I filed the end to a point on my dad’s bench grinder. I walked across the street to the park outside my house, and I attacked the garbage in the rain garden. I chased it through the foliage, piercing it with my makeshift rapier, collecting its remains.

Maybe this will help.

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Photo by Robert Stuart Lowden

I’m an adventurer. It’s my job.

And for all the shitheads out there who consume without thinking, and leave their trash lying around; for the people who continue to make a mess of the world, I have just one message:

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The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

#StopGunViolence

Do you know what one of the most leading cause of premature death in the U.S is? Well, gun violence is one of the most leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Guns kill at least more than 38,000 people and cause nearly 85,000 injuries each year. There is this organization called APHA is a longtime supporter of violence prevention policies, especially with gun-related violence and APHA acknowledges an inclusive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis is necessary for good causes.

The issue of gun violence is complex and deeply rooted in our culture, which is why we must take a public health approach to ensure our families and communities are safe. We must focus more on the emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research. Conducting research will be a good first step in figuring out what is wrong in the present and how to prevent future ferocities. There would need to be ongoing work needed to ensure firearms do not fall into the wrong hands and to allow access to mental health services to the ones who need it most. Mental health is a personal issue but it should be a private issue and it should be shared with the public.

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To represent and support the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., animator Alex Clark used a bit of humor to explain gun violence prevention and hopefully, it will lighten up the mood of this post, enjoy!:

 

Number of Deaths in 2018
Map of Number of Deaths by Gun Violence in 2018 in the U.S.
In my opinion, guns should not be allowed anywhere in the U.S. because these kinds of weapons can be easily obtained and some people that have the right to carry or not commit suspicious or heinous acts.
To end this on a good not, guns should just go. Period.  #StopGunViolence
SENATE:

Nanny Laws are still a problem in Minnesota

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Don't do this Mn

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Perhaps you have heard that flavored tobacco is still a problem for our youth? If you have heard this, you no doubt have seen one of the many relentless advertisements put out by a group called Clearway Minnesota.

Here is my personal favorite:

https://vimeo.com/122349201

In this video, we have an “ice cream man” who is tempting kids with the many different flavors of candy they love. Only the candy flavors are flavored tobacco and he is freely selling the product out of the back of his ice cream tobacco truck.

Who is going to argue with these Clearway people? They make it seem that if you argue with them, then you believe selling tobacco to youngsters is appropriate. I can be relatively sure that there are no ice-cream men selling flavored tobacco out of the back of a truck to the hopeless youth of Minnesota who don’t know any better.

I will say this,  I think all of this new anti-smoking propaganda is being sensationalized and is affecting those of legal smoking age much more than the people they claim are being affected.

Some of their arguments are a downright flimsy. Here is a link to the tobacco is still a problem page.

http://www.stillaproblem.com/#youth

One statistic states that “about half of MN teen smokers smoke menthol”. Their next statistic says “Menthol cigarettes increase teen smoking”. If about half are smoking Menthol, then it is almost an even split between Regular and Menthol smoking teens. I really do not see how “about half” smoking Menthol is increasing teen smoking.

The Minneapolis City Council recently increased the price of flavored tobacco and cigars on Jan 1 2016.  Customers who were paying $1 for a single cigar before the increase are now asked to pay $2.80 per cigar!  Its not just flavored cigars either, cigar flavored cigars that weren’t tempting kids somehow got wrapped up in this.

Who can I complain to? I don’t feel like I should be shamed like the “cigarette ice cream man” just because I sometimes want to enjoy an inexpensive cigar.

I just would like to say that these ridiculous (with good intentions) nanny laws telling us how to live our lives are only going to become more prevalent and ruin the world we live in. I wonder if anybody will speak out when alcohol prices triple?

 

photo credit: https://pubsecrets.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/scold.gif

Eric Holder Contempt: Political or Warranted?

The debate over US Attorney General Eric Holder’s conduct with regard to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal has gotten much attention over the last few weeks, and a few days ago, the House Committee voted (along party lines) to hold him in contempt of Congress. This means that the House now gets to weigh his fate. The problem in all of this is that it’s very obviously a partisan issue, in a very heated election year. On one side, the Democrats believe that the actions on the part of the GOP-controlled committee are just part of a political “witch hunt” – a smear campaign on Obama and his party. On the other side, the Republicans feel that Eric Holder is very obviously hiding something, and the public has a right to know the truth.

My personal feeling is that there is obviously something going on here. While this isn’t necessarily “news” to anyone, the point is that someone, on one side or the other, has an agenda that does not have the people’s best interests in mind. Be it safety or national security, someone’s lying – someone’s hiding something. Why aren’t we allowed to know the truth? Who’s hiding what from us?