Where have the years gone?

I have made a number of mistakes in my lifetime, and done more than a few things of which I am not proud. One thing I definitely do not put in the mistake column, however, is asking Kaye to become my wife. That she said “yes” and ultimately bore us two children who are a source of boundless pride are the two greatest gifts a flawed man can possibly hope to receive.

This coming Monday marks the beginning of our fifth decade as a married couple. For forty-one years we have loved and hated; fought and collaborated; told truths and kept secrets from one another. In short, we have done the things—good and bad– couples often do while making their way through life together.

She has always been the steady one. Me—not so much. Not for lack of trying, but I have chosen career paths that have been extremely volatile and, as a result, she has been the rock upon which our marital foundation is based.

Our emotional temperaments are a study in contrasts as well. Her rational nurse’s demeanor in most situations clashes with my sometimes volcanic temper. To her credit, Kaye does not back down when she feels she is in the right.

While I rarely admit it, she has kept me from doing stupid things that I would otherwise do without her disapproving comments.

I have been by her side to offer advice when asked and to comfort when needed. She has never failed to do the same for me.

The fact that we have even a modicum of financial stability is testimony to her usually subtle—sometimes less so—input into our monetary affairs. It’s also a product of her fierce work ethic, something I am proud to say both of our children have inherited.

Some might wonder what the secret to our marital longevity is. In truth, I have no earthly idea. I suspect it is the result of many things, indicative of the shear complexity of challenges that life throws our way.

Without doubt, one answer is perhaps unsentimental: we’re just used to being around one another.
As prosaic as this may seem, this is the basis of many long-lasting relationships. There are worse things than being comfortable.

It seems that while marriage is hard work, staying married is even harder.

Lately, more than ever, I’ve come to realize we should not take what we have for granted. We’ve seen many long term marriages abruptly come undone and the factors that seem to lead up to these dissolutions run the gamut.

Merriam-Webster defines love as: “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” I doubt anyone who is truly honest about a relationship as long-lasting as ours could ever attest to “constant” affection. I think it is more likely something that regenerates with the experiences we share.

What I can and will say on the threshold of our forty-first anniversary toast is: Kaye, I love you. Here’s to many more.

Gun violence: Enough

Enough. It’s time to move beyond the prevailing national conversation about guns and gun violence and get to work on solving an issue that is becoming a nightmare.
For far too long the debate has been boiled down to a presumption on two extremes that there is some kind of zero sum solution–“Arm everyone and the mass shootings will stop”– “Ban all firearms to end the killing.”

Taking away guns from law-abiding citizens raises the disturbing specter of government forces swooping into homes to confiscate weapons—something that should send chills through the hearts of conservatives and liberals alike.

And, of course, critics of the ban guns philosophy are correct in saying that if you take away the guns from the people who obey the law, only those who don’t will be armed.
Just as chilling to me is the rather absurd argument by the NRA and others in the pro-gun crowd that if we just armed everyone, the mass killings that seem to have become so prevalent lately would largely be a thing of the past. It should be noted that in one of the latest shooting episodes, one of the dead victims was an armed citizen trying to do just that.

If we are to believe the mantra that “guns don’t kill people…people kill people,” doesn’t it follow that, if you give more people guns, there will be more killing?

Many, if not most, of the vocal advocates for gun bans seem to come from the more liberal and densely populated East and West coasts of our country. For the vast majority then, police protection is generally minutes away and game hunting a foreign pastime.
In the rural West and Midwest, as well as sparsely populated regions of the two coasts, police protection can be considerably further away, and hunting is part of a lifestyle. City-dwellers presuming to impose their sensibilities on these people to solve a problem that, for the most part occurs only in the more densely populated parts of our country seems patently unfair, not to mention targeting the wrong thing.

Better mental health screening and stronger laws to keep guns out of the hands certainly seems a logical answer to at least one component of the problem but, where does the line get drawn and will more extreme measures to protect society from the mentally ill inadvertently keep some from seeking help? Would people suffering from conditions like depression and schizophrenia be tagged with a scarlet letter that makes them and their condition social pariahs?

And what of the possibility of violent video games having at least some influence on the behavior of young, impressionable boys and girls (mostly boys)? Video game makers—a multi-billion dollar industry, don’t forget—point to studies that absolve them of any responsibility despite what seems to be a growing frequency of shootings by young, disturbed shooters who played the games. Auto makers in the 1950s and cigarette manufacturers in the 1960s and 70s did pretty much the same thing. People with logical minds cannot be so sanguine.

It’s time people on all sides admit a complex, ongoing tragedy such as the one we are witnessing can only be solved by finally acknowledging we all have a stake in it’s solution.

Dissatisfaction with government: A new American pasttime

I’m not sure the word “dissatisfaction” adequately describes my complete and utter disgust with the entire political process in this country as it now stands.

Left or right, it doesn’t matter…the political discourse in the nation is dominated by finger-pointing, innuendo, and outright lies. There is no appetite or consideration for achieving concrete solutions.

This is not merely the fault of the political class. It is also a result of the sins of business, organized labor, and a citizenry either too caught up in their day-to-day existence (or too disinterested) to care…much less act…to change things.

In the case of the current crisis of unaccompanied, undocumented minors entering the US illegally, the right demands our President follow the law regarding immigration, then, when it is pointed out he is doing it, they demand he somehow change the law.

The President, for his part, ignored dire predictions of just such an outcome over two years ago if nothing was done, and, like so many other things under his watch…nothing is exactly what was done. We get the government we deserve. It’s up to us to make it one that our children and grandchildren deserve.