The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life
For those of us who find nature to be both aesthetically beautiful and life-sustaining.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shall Not Be Infringed: A Defense of Our Second Amendment Right to Defend Ourselves

“I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” ~Virginia’s U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788. (LaPierre, 2009, p. 158).

Controversy is abundant over the second amendment and the verbiage in the amendment has become one of the most debated, argued and misinterpreted pieces of our constitution. The Second Amendment was written in 1789 by Congress and in 1791 it became ratified by the States and became a permanent fixture in our original Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment was intended to protect and forever preserve all citizens' rights to individually protect themselves and their lives. 

This right of self-protection stated:
“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (Barton, 20ll, p. 5).

It's vital to teach from awareness of all sides of a perspective. I am absolutely hyper-aware of the damage, death and destruction that guns have played a role in. As a criminologist, I am also hyperaware of the constitution. I am aware of how vital the protection of every single word is. I am mostly concerned with latent consequences of  infringing upon any of the rights embraced by the bill of rights. 

Over time, anti-gun enthusiasts have taken pieces of history, pieces of the amendment and out-of-context literature then used this information to suit their agendas. The words “shall not be infringed” are immensely self-explanatory. There is no other way to interpret “shall not be infringed,” but to declare and state that this “right” as stated, cannot be broken, undermined, encroached upon or any unauthorized use of the terms being restated. To infringe is to "encroach upon," to "restate" or to "break the terms of" and ultimately to "undermine" the original intent. Those that want to argue that you do not have the right to keep and bear arms are arguing that you do not have the right to defend and protect yourself. This is a direct infringement upon “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Later, anti-gun activists have argued that “the people” may not be "you or I." They also argue that “the people” means the "socially organized people" such as the military, police and government. This is absolutely taking our history out of context. These rights were written into the constitution in order to protect "you and I" from the infringement of those “socially organized people” or "others" that would threaten our livelihood (Barton, 2011, p. 6-13).

One of the most utilized pieces of legal script used in the origination of the Second Amendment was known as “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws” (Barton, 2011, p. 15). This commentary became a source for America’s legal system, attorneys and judges as well. The Blackstone Commentary was first introduced in 1766 in America and the commentary clearly stated that citizens have rights to own and use weapons for their own self-defense. It further stated that this is a "natural right" to be used for resistance as well as individual self-preservation in the event that society’s laws are “insufficient to restrain violence of oppression” (Barton, 2011, p. 15).  This was a three part course of action. First, the citizen has the right when their rights have been violated or attacked to justice in the court of laws, secondly, the right to petition a grievance to the government and thirdly, the right of owning, having and using fire arms for self-preservation and self-defense (p. 15).

These citizen militias “being necessary to the security of a free state” were the reasoning behind the historical landscape under which the constitution and the amendment were written and intended. The “free state” was a priority of the times so that our future freedom from the risk of a government that was not of the people, by the people or for the people would not be threatened. This “free state” concept is still a priority as is self-defense and the right to defend our own lives. 

Our founding fathers were suspicious of the motivations of government for good reason. One of Jefferson’s famous quotes sums up this belief: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in Government” (Pratt, 1995, xii). There lies the number one reason to continue to fight for your right to keep and bear arms given to you by one of our founding fathers himself. He and the founders of the time knew what history has shown many times over: that governments with too much control over the people can and will become dangerous and that the people may, as a last resort, have to defend themselves. The most frightening thing about gun control is when the government itself wants to disarm you. You must ask yourself why? Our founding fathers didn't want to disarm us. We had fought too hard to get where we were and they knew we were a necessary entity.

These rights were so important to our founders that our early history is peppered with examples of how undoubtedly vital gun ownership was in our history. In 1658, Virginia required every home own a working firearm and if you didn't own one, after 1673, the government would provide one for you. In 1676, the law stated that you must carry it with you everywhere that you go. In 1632, the Plymouth Colony required that every citizen bear arms at all times or they would be fined. In 1639, no one was allowed entry to any public gatherings without their firearm in Newport Colony. Later, Connecticut added fines for failure to carry weapons and powder, then Georgia added fines and others followed suit. These laws are evidence that the government not only valued well-armed citizens, but demanded it. They considered every citizen a member of the militia. Every citizen was part of “the public defense” system (Barton, 2011, p. 16).

This brings us to the meaning of “a well-regulated militia." The English militia system under Elizabeth I became a commonly understood “concept of a universally armed people ready to stand in defense of their nation” (Pratt, 1995, p. 7). In the context for which “a well-regulated militia” was written, this "militia" was the citizens of America and the “regulation” was the legal requirement of this militia to keep and bear arms. The citizens of America were “the well-regulated militia.” In the “Centinel” it was written that “a well-regulated militia” is “composed of the body of the people” (Halbrook, 1994, p. 80). The militia was comprised of the people and the people were considered necessary to the “security of the state.”

Why are the people no longer trusted or considered necessary?

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed-unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
~James Madison, the father of the Second Amendment  (LaPierre, 2009, p. 6).

Once again, we are reminded that we cannot always rely upon our own government to have our best interests in mind or to protect us in the event that we need to be protected. As was the case in our history, we may need to protect ourselves and it is vital to any self-reliant individual that he or she know how to take care of and defend themselves should the situation call for it. 

Other evidence in our history that the government may not have our back as we would like to believe is made obvious by the following quote:

“To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Stated by George Mason in “his suspicion of government” (Pratt, 1995, p. xiii).

There is no doubt that our world is every bit as volatile and dangerous as it was in these vital formative years. To disarm citizens today is to say that the citizens are no longer valued and recognized as individuals who have the right to defend and protect themselves. Citizens are no longer respected as being a valuable piece of the public defense system as we once were. Our “rights of the people” are being infringed upon in a dangerous way. 

The government, media and gun control activists would have you believe that owning weapons leads to more violence. This again, is spinning of facts to suit agendas. The right to keep and bear arms and the right to carry them may in itself function as a crime deterrent. Criminals are unaware which citizens may be armed and which citizens may be able to protect themselves. This makes it more difficult to target people for the criminal. Those who choose not to own or carry weapons stand to benefit from those that do for this reason (Lott, 2010, p. 275).

Crime is a choice made by people. Owning guns does not make you commit crimes. And, criminals would be the primary citizens that would gain control of weapons should they be taken from the rest of us anyway. There is ample evidence of crimes committed against people via knives, bludgeoning, falls, drowning and many other methods. In absence of gun ownership or accessibility, where there is criminal intent, there will still be a crime committed using a different method. Taking citizens’ rights to protect themselves via a firearm, will not keep bad people from doing bad things, but the right to keep and bear arms will allow some of us to protect ourselves from these bad people doing bad things. 

The individual right to protect myself  is an inalienable right. The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Second Amendment simply acknowledge that right and declare that my right shall not be infringed.

“The Notion that the Second Amendment somehow belongs to a small number of gun rights advocates is simply wrong. The Second Amendment belongs to all Americans.”
(Cornell, 2006, p. 218).

Works Cited:

Barton, David. “The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-Protection.” 1st Edition. 4th Printing. WallBuilders. 2011

Cornell, Saul. “A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America.” Oxford University Press. 2006.

Halbrook, Stephen P. “That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right.” The Independent Institute. 1994.

LaPierre, Wayne. “The Essential Second Amendment Guide.” World NetDaily. 2007, 2009.

Lott, John R. Jr. “More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.” Third Edition. The University of Chicago Press. 2010.

Pratt, Larry. “Safeguarding Liberty: The constitution & Citizen Militias.” Legacy Communications. 1995.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Harnessing Fear: How To Use Fear To Create Change

"Everyone experiences fear. Do not allow fear to make you inactive. Activity harnesses fear and uses it as a catalyst toward change."  
~K.M. Frost

In any survival situation, whether that situation is "daily life survival", wilderness survival or surviving a catastrophic event, fear and how you manage fear, may be the number one predictor of whether you get through the event. Fear can be crippling, leaving you frozen, inactive and unable to think or act coherently. Fear can also be life-saving and give you the heightened mental awareness necessary to move you into action. Everyone experiences fear. Differing events create different levels of fear in each individual. What may instill trauma and terror in you, may be fascinating and exciting to me. And, while you may enjoy sky-diving and swimming with sharks, I'll pass. 

Survivology broken down:

 "Ology" is a suffix that means "the study of" and to "survive" is to endure, get through, and overcome a situation. Survivology is the study of survival and the ability to get through stressful, changing circumstance. That circumstance can be bad things that happen in your daily life or more serious things that disrupt your entire world as you know it. Survivors often have particular mindsets, qualities or actions in common. And, we can all learn a great deal from studying the way that people who have survived being lost in the wilderness or diagnosed with cancer behaved or thought during and throughout the circumstance. 

In facing similar circumstance, how do some people come through events empowered while others either perish or are severely damaged from trauma? There are many factors that go into the study of survival situations and sometimes it is a combination of behaviors, actions and luck. None of us can know for certain how we will behave in a survival situation without having been through one. But, one thing you can know with certainty is that if you have the ability to harness fear to keep you mentally active you are more likely to get through everything from job loss, divorce, and health issues to being lost and cataclysmic events.

Fear can be crippling or it can carry you into a level of functioning that enables you to endure things you never thought possible. When faced with a survival situation, you will be frightened. Harness that fear and use it as a catalyst toward change and you will more likely find yourself a survivor rather than a victim of circumstance. 

How do we harness fear?

Let's start with a common life situation: You have children, jobs, a mortgage, more bills than you can shake a stick at, you are out of shape and have been in a long-term relationship that is beginning to go south. You find out that your partner or spouse is leaving you. You are panic-stricken. You are thinking you will never make it through this. You don't have enough money. You don't know how it will affect the children. There are many unknowns which terrify you. You wonder who will want you as you haven't dated in years and haven't been actively putting effort into your physical appearance. You find yourself going through the stages of grief. You plead with them to stay. You go through denial and bargaining before settling into depression and allowing your fear to cripple you. 

This is a classic example of a life situation that can either cripple or empower you. The inability to harness the fear and use it as a catalyst through the circumstance and as a change creator can leave you forever damaged. You may never love again or trust again. You may never be able to have a healthy relationship where you feel safe. Or, you can use the fear of the unknown to spawn your ability to face the adversity head on and actively do something, anything, but actively working to keep your mind busy and forward moving.

The same situation faced with a survival mindset and the ability to harness fear:

You are still frightened because change is always scary, but you are keeping yourself busy. You begin to list your fears and you know that money, the children, your ability to find another mate and your ability to move past the anguish of losing someone you love are high on your fear list. You then begin to face these fears in a very matter-of-fact manner. In looking at the monster under the bed, you are now less afraid of that monster. Now, your monster has a face and a name. You can now begin to strategically use that fear to face these monsters and plan your way through them using activity.

You begin job hunting for a better paying job, or you take on a part-time job. You begin to have honest and encouraging conversations with your children and you help them adjust in the healthiest way possible through the adversity. You role-model someone who is strong and can do this. You begin to believe in yourself. You begin to work out and even though you can't afford the gym yet, you do what you can at home. You begin to look into downsizing your home. One by one, you use activity as a mechanism to handle your fear and slowly, but surely you begin to get through it. Once through it, you are empowered and have a new-found sense of self-esteem and self-reliance that you never had before. 

What did you learn from facing the adversity?

You learned that the worst thing you can do is to do nothing. You learned how to use activity to avoid wallowing in your circumstance and to avoid freezing and becoming a victim of your circumstance. You learned that you are strong. You learned that activity is like a brain-aid that keeps your mind active and keeps you forward moving. You learned that you do have what it takes to survive bad or traumatic events and have gained skill in using that adversity to become a survivor and to be empowered. 

This same concept of using activity to harness fear and create change can be utilized in extreme situations as well. Practice this idea and this philosophy in your behavior in your day-to-day circumstance until it becomes habitual nature. When faced with adversity, your brain will more quickly move into activity mode and problem solving mode as you slowly modify your behavior under stress.

Survivors of various survival situations have one very common bond: they kept their mind active, they didn't allow themselves to drown in their fear, they used that fear to create change even if that change was simply a mental shift. That mental shift may be the change that saves your life or gets you through.

fear management

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Deliberate Parenting: A Business Model For Parenting A Self-Reliant Child

There are as many parenting styles as there are parents. Most everyone is internally motivated to raise a child that has great qualities and will be successful in life. The problem lies in the fact that although most people have an idea of what they want their child to be like when they are an adult, they are consistently going about the "business" of parenting with little to no thought or planning. Without a business model or a plan, any business is likely to fail. Parenting most certainly is a business and parents are the leaders and directors of the company.

Every single moment that you are interacting with your child from birth is a teachable moment.

Parental leaders need to be always in tune to the heart-beat of their company and how their parenting style will impact the final outcome product i.e. the adult that you are raising your child to be. Unfortunately, parents frequently parent with randomness contingent on the moment rather than deliberately focusing on how their actions will impact their future product. For example, one fatal error that many parents make happens all over the world, every single day.

Go to any large grocery store or super center on any given day and you will see fatal parenting in action. The scene goes something like this: Mom is in a hurry to get through the store before little Ian gets any crankier. Mom approaches the check out area with fear and trepidation because Ian has been losing his patience since passing by the cereal and pop-tarts. Now, Mom has to make it past the strategically placed candy by the register. Mom moves in. Ian sees the candy. Mom begins to let her gaze stray around the store to see how many people are around and within hearing vicinity. The store is busy and two small, sweat beads begin to run down Mom's forehead. Ian also cases the place and has quickly surmised that with enough volume he can accomplish his mission of obtaining candy. Ian deploys a tactic that any bystander would know he has used many times before. Ian begins to demand the candy, cry for the candy, and scream for the candy. Mom is placing her items on the counter and telling Ian, "not right now." Ian has no intention of taking "no" for an answer and his volume increases until Mom hands him a package of candy.

Fatal parenting at work.

What has Mom actually done? A great deal of future damage to her final outcome product. Mom has selfishly thought of herself in the moment. Getting out of an embarrassing situation that she has put herself in from previous failures is more important than considering the long-term ramifications of what she is actually teaching Ian. Let's bullet point what that fatal parenting error actually does to the product:

*Teaches the child that they can control your behavior through social embarrassment.
*Teaches the child that patience is not required to get what you want.
*Teaches the child that they don't have to earn or work for things because they can demand them, manipulate for them or behave in a negative and controlling manner to get rewarded.
*Teaches the child that there is a positive reinforcement for rude and obnoxious behavior.
*Teaches the child to expect instant gratification.
*Teaches the child to have no concern for how their actions impact others.
*Teaches the child to not be socially aware of their behavior.
*Teaches the child to have no self-control.
*Teaches the child no self-regulation.
*Teaches the child not to self-soothe and that they can get everything that they want.
*Teaches the child that if they cry long enough you will pacify them.

There are more, but you get the point. Everything about that moment in time is a fail in terms of your final product. Let's go back in time even further. When a baby cries, they get fed, cuddled or their needs met. This is normal and good and teaches the baby to trust you. But, once all of the baby's needs are met and they still cry (which is also quite normal) what do we do? We stick a pacifier in their mouth. What does the word "pacify" mean? It means to "cause" someone who is angry or upset to become calm. Does this sound like a good thing to put into your final product? If YOU are "causing" the person to become quiet or calm, is the person learning anything? Are they going to be able to self-soothe, self-regulate or be self-reliant if you are always pacifying them? The point is that sometimes we as parents do pacify. We want our children to be calm and quiet in most situations. But, if you are repeatedly behaving in a way that is "you" soothing and pacifying "them" and making everything all better under all circumstances for your child, you are damaging your final outcome product.

The product that is destined to hit the shelves one day will be a fail.

What is a final product? A final product is the adult child that is going out into the world to go to college or go to work, to be a husband or a wife, an employee or a boss, a service worker, agent, teacher, counselor, representative or whatever they choose to do. The consumers of your product, a.k.a. the people that have to put up with the individual that you raised, are the bosses, employees, customers, co-workers, family members and others in society.

When I encounter completely obnoxious people that make my life miserable, I secretly loathe their parents. You are the manufacturer of this product. Take some responsibility for that product before it hits the shelves.

You, as the leader of your family business, need to recognize and understand that you have a small window of time to have an impact and imprint on the slate of who your child becomes. Learn what successful company leaders do and how they are successful. You need to model this same behavior. Effective company leaders motivate, inspire and guide others to be the best that they can be, to be team-players, to be confident, competent and compassionate.

Great leaders inspire others to follow the company mission, vision and philosophy. As a leader of your organization, consider developing a family mission statement, vision and philosophy that will go into your parenting style. An example of a company philosophy might be "to raise self-reliant, socially aware and empowered adults that will positively impact their world." Using this philosophy as a guiding principle, a parent would know better than to give into Johnny's demands at the store because it goes completely against the company philosophy.

Your company vision should include what you envision for the future as well as your business strategies of just how you intend to create this. Your mission statement is simply your idea of your company's purpose. What is your idea of your purpose in parenting and in the "business" of parenting. Have a detailed list of the qualities, characteristics, and core principles that you want in your product before it hits the market. This may seem a very strange way to view parenting and children, but it is far more loving to consider helping your child to know how to take care of themselves and to feel safe, and confident navigating life than it is to make certain that your child is frightened and dependent and ill-prepared to handle adversity.

 Even if your children are older, it is not too late to model qualities and character that is vital to your concept of a successful outcome product. Don't just consider the product that you like or that makes you feel good about you because you need to feel needed, consider the final product. Consider how much better for your child and your child's future if they are socially aware, self-reliant and empowered rather than dependent, obnoxious and demanding.

Deliberate parenting is about considering what kind of outcome you want in every teachable moment rather than parenting in the moment or doing whatever is easiest. Deliberate parenting positions you as the leader, role model, teacher, mentor, coach and head of marketing and product development. And, because you are head of product development, if you produce a product that has a negative impact on society, then you have some accountability in that.

Now and then, under the best of circumstances and with the best intentions, some adults will just not behave in a way that the parents had hoped and dreamed. This happens and there is no point in beating yourself up. We cannot control what happens after the product hits the shelf. All that you can do is put all that you can into your product before it goes out into the world. All of your efforts should be concentrated on the long-term effects of your parenting style rather than on momentary pacifying.

Now, I should probably let you go as I know that you have an important business to run.