The urban legend of the right to bear arms

right to bear arms

The more something is repeated, even if untrue, the more it will be believed. This is particularly true of the belief that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives individuals the “right to bear arms.”

The Second Amendment, passed by Congress in 1789, consists of one poorly crafted sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

For 200 years, it was understood that the Second Amendment only gave an individual the right to bear arms within an organized militia.

This changed in the 1970s after a methodical political campaign by the National Rifle Association [NRA] led to its being reinterpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read on to understand how this came about.

According to the Huffington Post, last week’s mass shooting in Oregon was the 265th mass shooting in the U.S. in 2015. That’s not a typo.

7 reasons why kindness matters

kindness“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama

Does kindness matter?

I think so, and there are compelling reasons to make it a priority in our lives, for the world needs it now more than ever.

A few months ago, while watching television in a hotel in the Midwestern United States, I saw a commercial for a local program which mentors the elderly.

I heard the narrator say, “One of the ways we mentor the elderly is take them out and teach them how to shoot squirrels.”

Seriously? Mindless killing of animals just to pass the time? That really breaks my heart.

Even more amazing was that this aired less than one week after the uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Paul Farmer

7 reasons why kindness matters

Research shows that repeated acts of kindness:

Change your habits, change your life

change your life“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” ~Mike Murdock

What do we call something we do daily? A habit.

Part of the work of becoming a conscious human being is looking at our habits and patterns and seeing whether they serve us . . . or hold us back.

Sometimes we do things without even knowing why.

I love the story about a mother teaching her ten year-old how to cook a roast. As part of the preparation, the mother cut the ends off the roast before putting it in the pan.

The daughter asked why and the mother replied, “Well, honey, that’s how my mother taught me to do it.”

“But why?” asked the daughter.

“Let’s call up grandma and ask her.”

So they called grandma who replied, “Well, that’s how my mother taught me to do it.”

Next they called great-grandma who gave them her reason: “So it would fit in the pan.”

That isn’t a habit that will hold that family back [other than wasting a good piece of meat].

But it’s an example of things we do without even thinking about it. Perhaps the reason for it has long passed.

What are you getting ready for?

getting readyI recently heard a Chinese saying about Western culture: “People in the West are always getting ready to live.”

That made me stop and reflect on how much time I have spent “getting ready” for the next direction I want to go in my life.

A fair amount of time, actually. And much of it was wasted time.

In fact, much of it was merely procrastination.

That is why I’ve taken to heart a phrase I heard last year by Steven Pressfield: “Start before you’re ready.”

Do you rush around “getting ready” to find the perfect mate, find the perfect job or house or car?

Or start that creative project?

Do you wait for conditions to be just right to start something new? I used to think I had to create the perfect office environment before I could start writing.

There’s no such thing!

Do you delay taking vacation time until you can afford to go to Paris? When there are perfectly interesting cities and places nearby?

Don’t let excuses hold you back!

Bear Heart’s first job

Encouraging a child to earn their own money does more than teach them responsibility. It gives them the confidence to tackle anything. In this lovely excerpt from “The Wind Is My Mother,” Bear Heart tells the story of his first job: earning money planting cotton.

Bear HeartMy dad taught me to hitch a team of horses to a wagon and a plow when I was eight years old and when I was ten he gave me two acres of land, saying, “If you want to plant something, go ahead. If you don’t plant anything, let it grow wild. Maybe some rabbits will come, feed upon the plant life and you can kill a rabbit to have something to eat. It’s your choice.”

Don’t let it sit idle, let it yield something — that’s what he was teaching me.

So I planted two acres of cotton — it was good cotton, my very own, but I had to work it and do all the plowing. I knew which plowshare to use if I wanted to plow deeper and I knew how to plow between each row to lessen the weeds from coming up.

I tied the lines to the horses behind my back — when I hit a root or a rock under the ground it would pull me forward and I’d hit the cross bar on the handles of the plow. Often I’d fall but I’d dust myself off and keep going on.

When the cotton grew up, I’d check each boll to see if there were any boll weevils in there and, if there were, we didn’t have any spray, but at least we could pray.