Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Haiku: Butterfly Wings

dark butterfly wings
abundant summer flowers
no need to worry


Photo by Malcolm Marler


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Fires of Moloch Are Burning

Gun Violence in America

Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of Ben Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
                                                                                                                  2 Chronicles 28:3
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of Ben Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination
                                                                                                                  Jeremiah 32:35

Illustration from Foster Bible Pictures
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

Moloch was the ancient Phoenician and Canaanite god known in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy for the practice of propitiatory child sacrifice.  There are few images more horrifying that that of fearful people offering up their own children to be burned on the altar of a domineering death-making god. Yet we are seeing the fires of Moloch burning in 21st century America.

We have seen this week yet another disturbing incident of promising lies brought to a sudden end by gun violence. Once again there is talk of stronger gun control laws, yet we are impotent to make any changes. Our failure to act in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre demonstrated that we would rather sacrifice our beautiful preschoolers than do anything that might be perceived as a desecration of the Bill of Rights. Our words say that we honor American freedom, while our actions say that we live in fear and have so little regard for our children that we will willingly feed them to our modern day fires of Moloch. 

In a country whose politicians love to shout “God Bless America!” at the end of their speeches, and whose people speak of faith in the public square and argue about putting the Ten Commandments on display, it is the ancient and brutal god Moloch who holds sway over all public discourse. Indeed the fires of Moloch continue to consume our children while nothing is done to extinguish those flames.

Why Do We Tolerate Death and Glorify Violence?

According to The Brady Center, “Over 18,000 American children and teens are injured or killed each year due to gun violence. This means nearly 48 youth are shot every day, including 7 fatalities.” 

America has a problem with gun violence

·         One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot.
·         On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.
·         Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.
·         The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.
·         A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

Gun Violence Takes a Massive Toll on American Children

·         More than one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting.
·         An average of seven children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day.
·         American children die by guns 11 times as often as children in other high-income countries.
·         Youth (ages 0 to 19) in the most rural U.S. counties are as likely to die from a gunshot as those living in the most urban counties. Rural children die of more gun suicides and unintentional shooting deaths. Urban children die more often of gun homicides.
·         Firearm homicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) for young people ages 1-19 in the U.S.
·         In 2007, more pre-school-aged children (85) were killed by guns than police officers were killed in the line of duty.

Gun Violence is a Drain on U.S. Taxpayers

·         Medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions in quality of life are estimated to cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually.
·         The lifetime medical cost for all gun violence victims in the United States is estimated at $2.3 billion, with almost half the costs borne by taxpayers.

Americans Support Universal Background Checks

·         Nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal background checks, including three out of four NRA members.
·         Since the Brady Law was initially passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of these blocked attempts were by felons.
·         Unfortunately, our current background check system only applies to about 60% of gun sales, leaving 40% (online sales, purchases at gun shows, etc.) without a background check.

One question we must answer is, why does our society so quickly come to the defense of guns after every deadly incident of gun violence. There are those who call for change, but such calls are always met with a push back from people who cannot tolerate any change in our gun laws. Lawmakers are forever paralyzed by the gun lobbyists and the fear-mongers.

Freedom or Fear?

Why are our citizens and our politicians are unable to put a stop to gun violence? If there were the political will, assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons could be banned tomorrow. The sad fact is, however, that our people seem to be too fearful to consider a peaceful society. We say that we are honoring the Second Amendment to the Constitution  that we hold the Bill of Rights to ensure our freedom  but the truth is, we live in fear. Why else would we be so powerless to stop our current practice of sacrificing children to the fires of gun violence?

Poster from The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Picture depicting worship of Moloch from The Jewish Encyclopedia


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So Much Depends: Imitative Poetry

The Gifts of a Wordsmith Adult Poetry Workshop meets at the Birmingham Public Library on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. I have found it to be a great place to experiment with the craft of poetry. It is a wonderful non-threatening environment to learn new techniques and try out new ideas.

Recently, the group examined imitative poetry. Imitative poetry often takes the form of parody. The Grand X Anthology of Poems, by William Zaranka is a fine collection of parodies written from Chaucer’s time to the present, containing over 400 pages of parodies of all the major poets, minor poets, and some unknown poets. I tried my hand at parody years ago with “Stopping by Publix on a Snowy Evening.” It was a parody of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and also a send up of the way we southerners panic at the hint of a couple of inches of snow.

Imitative poetry can also be an opportunity for the poet to experiment with the process of poetry. Our instructor provided some examples of famous poems so that we could try our hand at imitative poetry. One of the poems was one that I have long admired by William Carlos Williams:

The Red Wheelbarrow
By William Carlos Williams 

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I took advantage of our workshop time to think of an important time in my life and fashioned my poem by imitating William Carlos Williams’ brief evocative poem. Keeping the form and some of the words leaves no doubt as to the tip of the hat to the famous poet, yet the content is entirely reflective on my own experience.

The Yellow High Chair
By Charles Kinnaird

so much depends

a yellow high

glazed with Gerber

beside the gray


"The Red Wheelbarrow" poem found at The Poetry Foundation
Picture found at English Teachers Everywhere

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