Greetings and Salutations.
A few days ago, as my wife and I were returning to the house after a quick run out through the world, I saw a bubble of white on the driveway ahead of us. I stopped, and retrieved it, and, was rather surprised to find it was a helium balloon, with some touching sentiments written on it. When I got to the house, I took a couple of pictures of it, intending to see what I could find out sometime in the future. Here are the pictures I took:
After snapping these images, I left the balloon laying on the island, intending to deal with it later. However, when I returned to it, later in the evening, it was gone! I assumed that either my wife had disposed of it, or, the cats had gotten to it, so moved on with life. Well, yesterday, I was in the kitchen, cooking up some lunch, and I noticed that a couple of the cats that are permanent inmates here, were sitting on the island, staring up into the cupola over it, with some interest! I looked, and, rather to my surprise, I found the balloon. Apparently, it had enough helium in it, that, when it warmed up a bit, it decided to fly again! Now, it is living at the peak of the cupola, and since that is about 20 feet over the floor, I am not inclined to try and retrieve it. In time, the helium will escape and it will come down on its own.
This reminder revived my intentions to post it online, so, I put up a post in the local FaceBook page, commenting on it, and including the pictures. I had, actually, thought that it came from a birthday party or something similar, but, I was interested to see what I could find out about its story of how it got to my driveway, that chilly day.
Alas, as it turns out, it was, as the title of this blog article indicates, not a happy celebration. On November 11, 2018, Tamela Shanelle Moore was killed by a stray bullet, apparently collateral damage from a gang war in her neighborhood. She was 22 years old, had a wonderful son, and, was working her way in the world, trying to be the best person and mother she could be. A look at her posted obituary, shows that she was loved by many in the community, and her untimely death was a serious blow to many.
This tragedy points up the fact that there is no place immune from violence, and death. I have written before about my concerns with how our Society is moving towards a place of intolerance, hate, and violence. Events like this feed into this concern. Of course, this situation is complicated, alas, and there are several factors that likely played into her untimely death. What follows is an examination of some of these factors, and, some comments about why I think they have affected our society, and what we can do about them.
- Because of the growth of intolerance, hate, and fear of “The Other” in today’s society, I believe we are seeing an increasing contempt and disrespect for life in general, and for others in specific.
- Over the past decade or two, I have seen a worrisome growth of the basic belief that the way to solve a problem is to pick up a gun and kill. When I was growing up, in elementary and high school, we had weapons all over the place. However, when a fight would break out, neither party would pull a knife or gun out…it was settled with fists. Why? It was considered the mark of a coward to do it any other way.
- Oddly enough, in spite of the ability of the Net, and the increasing access to Cell Phones these days, tools that facilitate communication, I see increasing amounts of isolation in the country. More and more people feel as if they are alone, and not really a part of any group. Mankind is a tribal animal, so, for most people, this sense of being alone and isolated is very difficult to deal with.
- The youth of today are about three or four generations away from the Social Revolution of the 1960s. We, hippies, are still here, but, alas, we are fewer in number, and all of us look far too much like our grandparents. This is a problem that I see, because the “Do your own thing” of the 1960s has followed a somewhat destructive path. Instead of creating a level of respect for children, and an increased interest in parents in making sure they are the best that they can be, we have drifted away from that goal. Too many parents of the past couple of generations have been so caught up in the “Do your own thing” attitude that they have come to believe that being a parent is not their responsibility. They have attitudes such as “Kids are just little adults, who can make good decisions on their own”, to “I don’t want to be the bad guy…I want to be my kid’s best friend!” This has resulted in too many people of all ages having life rules to live by that tend towards the self-centered, and greedy…not the empathetic, altruistic attitudes that would be best for them as individuals, or Society as a whole.
These factors, and a number of other issues that contribute to the problem, have brought us to where we are today. Now, then, what can we do to correct the path that the Country is on…bringing it back to a more positive place? There are, I believe, several simple actions we could take that would start us moving in the better direction.
- Parenting. Making the effort to be a real parent to one’s kids is vital. This requires some pain alas, which is why so many folks avoid it. Some aspects of this? Parents are not EVER their kid’s “Best Friend”. they are far too old, and too distant in experience for that to happen. Parents have to be “the Bad Guy” at times. They have to be willing to set boundaries, enforce them, and say “NO” at times. They have to understand that, at some point in their rearing their kids, those kids are going to hate them for “being unfair” or “the meanest parents in the world”. Parents should realize that kids are born with a slate that has a few basic rules on it. However, the rules for dealing with others do not exist, nor do the rules about respecting themselves, and avoiding actions that will be harmful to them. It is the parent’s job to write those rules on that slate. If Parents do not do this…where will the kids get those rules (because they will…that slate NEVER remains blank)? They are likely to get the rules of engagement from video games, movies, television, the Net, and their friends. Ask yourself…if you are a parent…are those where YOU want your kids to learn the rules?
- The issue of isolation. I have not made an extensive study of gangs, but, from what I have observed, a huge reason for kids ending up in gangs is because they are feeling isolated, and without family support. They will gravitate towards a group that offers them community, support, and a feeling of belonging that is missing from their life. Alas, there are no easy ways to deal with this situation. A couple of things can help. Getting back to parents…making sure that their kids know they are an important part of the family, and working to entrust them with more responsibilities as they grow up, is huge. Alas, this is difficult in the areas where gangs are the strongest, as many parents there are carrying the Monkey of Addiction, or are so desperate they are engaged in criminal conduct….and are often likely to look upon kids as an interference with their lives…not a blessing. Some of that could be helped by increasing funding for community builders, such as athletic teams, or the Boys and Girls club. it is in that setting that kids, whose lives are chaotic elsewhere, can start feeling connections, and a sense of community.
- Negative attitudes towards others. If parents are not willing or able to do anything about this, we, as a society, should provide adequate funding for mental health care, the organizations I mentioned in #2, and, venues that bring people together with common interests. it is very challenging to maintain hate, or any other negative attitude, towards people that one KNOWS on a one to one basis. It is very easy to hate a generic image of a people…but, when that person works with you day by day, or is your neighbor, or attends church with you, it puts a face of humanity on them, and causes one to realize there are no major differents between them.. All of these factors erode away the generic image we use as an object of hate.
- The willing blindness and ignorance of too many in our society. SOME of this issue can be helped by teaching strong analytical skills and promoting diversity. Too many schools teach “To the Test” so if the test asks nothing about one’s ability to recognize a scam when one sees it, or, understand how propaganda works, and how to keep it from controlling us, those skills will not be taught. Another skill that is falling by the wayside is what I call “Library Skills”. Based in the ancient ways of accessing books via searching through drawer after drawer in a card catalog, these skills consist of the ability to find a way to phrase a query to Google that will return the largest number of useful responses. Another facet of this is the lesson I was taught when learning how to write essays. It was a requirement that I have three, INDEPENDENT sources for any factual data I was including in the essay. I will say that here, in these blog entries, I do not always put in all the links I may reference data from, but, I do try and include the important ones that are really meaningful. I touched earlier on recognizing a scam – which brings up a couple of vital tools for living. These are the ability to engage in Critical and Skeptical thinking. Making sure that all citizens have a basic ability to use the tools I have discussed will go a long way towards ensuring that we will both question the facts or arguments presented us in an attempt to sway our opinion, and, that we will look beyond the arguments, and understand the premises that provide a foundation for the argument. They also provide us with the ability to research a given topic on our own, then, correlate the data we gather, and use our conclusions to seek out the truth we need.
To finish off…many of the above factors came together to murder this bright star in the world of many people. The gangs, fighting for turf and respect, built by the feelings of isolation and fear in the hearts of the members of the gang, triggered the bullet that took Tamera’s life. The attitudes of society, and the stereotyping of others that it engages in likely influenced Tamera’s life and her decisions and put her in the vicinity of the violence and so put her life in danger. As an old, white, guy, I really cannot speak to the reality of her life, the positive moments, and the negative. I suspect though that it was a struggle, even under the best of circumstances, so the fact that she was making it makes her murder even more tragic.
God Help Us All
Bee Man Dave