“Hey. You OK, man?”

Of late, my answer has been, “No, but I know I will be.” And in the last few days I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m more OK than I give myself permission to be, so I’m going to start trying to acknowledge that, if it makes sense. My life is rarely fantastic, rarely horrible. Rarely mountaintops or burning bushes, rarely quicksand. I live in the densely forested hillsides, where I have to do a lot of bushwhacking and most of the time can’t see over the next ridge. Since January of this year, this has been especially true, and due to the wisdom and love of some really good teachers I am comfortable with the notion of being uncomfortable, and secure in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

But not alone. I am not and cannot be about this business alone. Occasionally a text will land, and although there are lots of ways of saying it, they all come down to the same thing: there are people who care about my well-being, and they care enough to give me a ping and share a little chunk of their lives to let me know. That is a gift. You are the ones who are holding space for me while I hold space for my mother and our family. It is an awesome responsibility, one I am grateful for, and any time I doubt myself one of you shows up and reminds me that I will always have what I need to get it done. Yeah, you. You know who you are.

I’m going to dream big, and let on that my greatest wish is for all of us to come from France and North Carolina and New York and Colorado and California and Maryland and Nebraska and Oklahoma and Ireland and Florida and Africa and Asia, and just break bread together. I would like for all of you to know each other, so I can share your wonderfulness around with the other wonderfuls. That would be one of MY great mountaintop experiences, to see all of us in one place, if only for an afternoon.

Because you have all held me, and I will never forget you.

Here’s a nice article about holding space. I hope it does for you what it has done for me.

Heather Plett’s article about holding space

Good guys with guns: the problem with concealed carry, and gun possession in general…

Who you gonna shoot?

I am an excellent shot. I don’t shoot often, but it’s like riding a bicycle for me. I can pick up a gun, and within the space of about three shots, I can get a feel for any weapon I pick up and use it with “deadly accuracy.” (That’s a term that needs to be revisited in a separate post.)  I know this about myself. No brag, just fact, as Walter Brennan used to say. It doesn’t make me an expert, or a professional. I just don’t care about shooting to practice enough to get that good, but I am good enough with a shotgun to kill 10-12 doves with a box of shells. Anybody who hunts dove will tell you that’s a very good average. I can shoot a tight group with a pistol or a rifle. I also know this about myself, but I’m smart enough to know that I’m not good enough to be a “good guy with a gun.” Unfortunately, many people are confused on that point, and don’t understand how damn good you have to be to win a gunfight.

There are guns in this house. All but one are mechanically disabled, so they can’t be used in the heat of the moment. Only one will fire, and it’s hidden. I would have to be awake and on my feet to find and use it. It’s a single action revolver, and I am good with it, especially at close range.

Guns are dangerous, even in the hands of people who are comfortable with them and trained in their use. The best way to draw fire is to fire. When you carry a gun, you make yourself a target. Trying to be a “good guy with a gun” will get you into deep trouble more often than not.

In my own case, I live with my mother. We’re way out in the country, but not out of reach of our family. They know where the house keys are hidden. My sons might end their shifts (they live in another city) and decide to come down for a visit without announcing themselves.

So here’s scenario #1: At 3AM, I hear noises and fight mightily to rouse myself from a sound sleep, grab a gun, burst from my room, and shoot anything that moves. The likelihood that I would kill a relative, most likely one of my children, is very high.

Scenario #2: I hear noises, but don’t know whether it’s a target or a family member. It’s up to my 3AM brain to evaluate the threat, and respond with lethal force if required. If there is an armed intruder, he will be wide awake, possibly in a heightened state of consciousness, and will also be prepared to shoot anything that moves. So put a fully prepared opponent with an already-drawn gun up against a sleep-fuddled “good guy with a gun”, and see how the odds are stacked in favor of the armed intruder. This scenario will likely end with me dead.

In fact, any scenario I can envision, except one, ends with me (bad enough!) or a member of my family (even worse!) on the floor, dead or dying. The only other possible outcome would be for me to kill the “bad guy”, which would pretty much break my mind and prevent me from being a functional human being for whatever time I have left.

And none of these scenarios include carrying a weapon in public, open or concealed, because my religious beliefs demand that I seek peace with my fellows wherever i go, and not use the weapons of conflict, like armed intimidation, to force an obscene parody of peace on those around me.  I can’t make peace by means of making myself a bigger threat than those around me. That’s not peacemaking. It’s bullying. People who carry guns in public lie when they say they’re not doing it to pick a fight. And i don’t care what their bullshit reasons are. Open carry is BOUND to lead to some punk thinking he has to show he’s badder than you. If you think that going out into the world poses a direct threat to you or your loved ones, the terrorists have won and you would do better to stay at home. Jesus wouldn’t carry a gun, and neither will I.

Final analysis about guns as defensive weapons:

NOT WORTH IT!!!

Your mileage may vary, but I don’t anticipate that it would vary by much. Go ahead and gamble with your life and the lives of your loved ones if your fear drives you to, but stay the hell away from me with your weapons.