Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

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One Couple’s Healing Approach – Newtown

This is an article from Frank Miller, in Talbot County. Frank is a retired school psychologist, activist and supporter of John LaFerla for Congress:

Last December after hearing about the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary, my wife Coletta decided we had to do something to show support. She came up with the idea to send a Christmas wreath with 26 angels. We purchased 20 small Serenity Angels and 6 larger ones, and the staff at her elementary school, in Ridgely, Maryland, tied them all on the wreath with white and green ribbons, and signed a card with the wording, “From one elementary school to another.” I made a cardboard box and sent it off to Newtown.

The unbearable grief of one family.

The unbearable grief of one family.

Fearing it might end up in a snow bank, somewhere, I sent it to the Newtown General Store, in the heart of town, a meeting place for kids and adults with colorful candy in clear glass jars, wood floors and a delicatessen as the main draw. The owner called Coletta when it arrived – Brian Williams of NBC News was there when it did we later found out – and displayed it in the store during the holidays. When one of the teachers from Sandy Hook stopped by and saw it, she asked if she could take it to their new building, and that is where it ended up.

For my part, I wanted to organize a project to memorialize the children and their brave teachers. As a graduate of Virginia Tech, suffering a tragedy themselves, I reached out to the editor who put together their memorial issues for the students and faculty who died. He suggested for me to find out what Newtown wanted first, and I later contacted the person in charge of gathering and organizing the tens of thousands of items that arrived in Newtown, in the wake of the tragedy. She was the Human Resources Administrator for Newtown, and despite being buried under an avalanche of cards and letters and paintings and sculptures and quilts and stuffed animals, she was kind enough to return my calls and emails.

On Friday, April 12, my wife and I drove to Newtown to meet with these two wonderful people. We spent over an hour with the HR Administrator in her office. When the mail arrived for the day, it was on a cart, in overflowing plastic USPS boxes. “There’s today’s mail,” she pointed. When we were genuinely surprised, she said, “Follow me,” and took us into the basement of the building, to a secure area filled with cartons of mail, paintings of the children, handmade quilts with their faces, and many other items people had sent to the families of the children. An incredible outpouring of love and support. She allowed us to take photos under the promise not to post them, since the families had not yet seen the offerings. For some it was still too close, too painful.

A very small sample of the expressions of love sent to Newtown.

A very small sample of the expressions of love sent to Newtown.

When we returned upstairs, she picked up her phone and called an associate who was in the process of documenting and cataloging every piece of mail, every piece of artwork, every item sent to Newtown in support of the families. She then directed us to a storefront, across town, where the work was being done, and we headed over there, in awe of the enormity of the project, but even more impressed with the love and dedication of this young woman and her staff of volunteers. Look up “Healing Through the Arts Newtown” (http://www.healingnewtown.org/) to get a small idea of what this work entails.

It was only noon, so we next headed over to the General Store, where we met with the owner and spent the next three hours talking about the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the days that followed, and the months of healing that are now in play. He opened his arms to us, and we felt like we were old friends, coming together again.

What struck us the most, was the kindness and trust everyone showed us, and the prevailing attitude in Newtown that because this act was so horrific, they were determined to make every effort to make sure that everything that followed was driven by love and support for the families, for the children and teachers who died that day, and for anyone else who cried for them and their tremendous loss.

 

Gun Advocates Have It All Wrong!

I am not an anti-gun advocate…I have owned guns for protection in my home and enjoyed hunting and target shooting, especially black powder. However, I do believe that the government, whether State or Federal, has the right, and the duty, to regulate and control firearms in our society. Regarding a statement that I recently came across by in a LTE, “If that were true then the First Amendment would have been disassembled a very long time ago.” This person seems to be  saying that there are no limits or controls on the 1st Amendment! If so, then he is wrong! I know the following may be long, but it is essential in understanding our Constitution and how it works!

"NRA-Armed with Pride"

“NRA-Armed with Pride”

As everyone knows, free speech rights can be controlled and regulated, especially when such speech is clearly seen as a danger to the physical safety of individuals. That’s why no one may yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire. The threat of injury supersedes the person’s right to speak.

Also, the Supreme Court has further defined certain speech, also known as “at-risk speech,” as being unprotected by the First Amendment, such as:

          1)  Burning draft cards to protest draft — prohibited because of superior governmental interest.

          2)  Words likely to incite imminent violence, termed “fighting words.”

         3)   Words immediately jeopardizing national security.

         4)  Newspaper publishing false and defamatory material — libel.

And, the 1st Amendment has other rights that are regulated, as well, including the taxation of religious organizations…if they want to keep their tax-free status, they may not be active in political activities. The “right of the people to peacefully assemble” is also regulated, where the safety, and even the convenience of the public, is jeopardized. Hence, Occupy Wall Street protestors were removed from certain locations, and protestors, anywhere, may not block streets and thoroughfares or may even be required to obtain permits before being allowed to assemble.

The government, Federal and State, has the right to regulate commerce, land use, the protection of our air and water, and so many other areas of our society. How were any of these actions allowed? Simply put, because the PEOPLE wanted these things. And, the PEOPLE are what allow these policies to continue. 

I hear over and over again, how the “Founding Fathers wanted this and the Founding Fathers wanted that!” The fact is that the Founding Fathers knew that their wants and desires were limited by their deaths; that the world is ever evolving and changing, as they, themselves, were witness to. (see the diary of James Madison, from the 1787 Const Convention) They realized that the only way to have a government and country that would endure, was to give the PEOPLE the power and authority to make changes (even if it was just the white, male landowners)! Hence, one of the most important parts of the 1st Amendment: “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” If the Founding Fathers didn’t want changes to happen, they would never have allowed that right to be included!

200+ years and counting!

200+ years and counting!

Further, the Founding Fathers also realized that they were not infallible. They knew that they were part of a “great experiment” and that, even great experiments fail if their rules and hypotheses are inflexible and not subject to change. Hence, they wanted the Judicial Branch (on par with the Executive and Legislative Branches) to be able to interpret the law and adjudicate disputes. One of the first major cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, under the great Chief Justice, John Marshall, was Marbury v. Madison (1803). It is a landmark decision on this important question: “Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional and therefore void?” The answer: “Yes! The SCOTUS has the duty and responsibility to review acts of Congress to determine their Constitutionality. What this means is that the Court must be able to interpret the Constitutional intent.

OUR children & grandchildren!

OUR children & grandchildren!

"I'm Not Crazy; All I Wanna Do Is Shoot Some People!"

“I’m Not Crazy; All I Wanna Do Is Shoot Some People!”

Through 200+ years of interpretation, we are at a point where gun-advocates want the right to own any “military-grade” weapon they want to put into their arsenal. These “strict Constitutionalists” are wrong, not only in their Constitutional approach, but also in their thinking that we would all be safer in our beds at night, if well-armed citizens, capable of fighting against the US military, were camped across the street from us. I’m sorry, but I, for one, would not (and don’t) feel safer in that scenario.  The result would be not knowing who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are…and they all want the right to walk down the street with their AR-15, or .44 Magnum!  Maybe, we should all get some popcorn and sit along the Washington or Baltimore Beltways at rush hour, and see how that turns out!!

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