A New Conversation about Guns

We need to make new symbols. Make new signs.
Make a new language. With these we’ll define the world.

lyrics to New Beginnings by Tracey Chapman

She’s on to something.

Imagine the conversation about guns if we had to start all over making terms for things. What if phrases like “gun control” and “second amendment remedies” were forgotten. What if groups like the NRA didn’t exist and Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense were not in existence.

WHAT IF we started over and all the arguments were new.

People with a negative view about guns didn’t use the Newtown Massacre as an opening argument. And people with a positive view of guns didn’t point to Chicago as the reason laws restricting use of guns don’t work.

Me personally, I’m one of those with a negative view. But just think if for one moment I could sit down with someone who has a positive view, and we could – as Tracey Chapman says “make a new language”.

I can sit down and express that I do NOT want to take guns away from everyone. My partner in this conversation could communicate that in fact they do NOT think all laws restricting guns are bad. We could find common ground. We could, together, look at the deaths from guns and agree that it is tragic. My conversation partner could tell me about the time their firearm was used to shoot a mountain lion attacking his dog. And I would listen. I could relay the experience I had with a loved one getting shot by someone. And they would listen.

I could express that gun ownership does not equate to someone being an “ammosexual” another term we would not remember. They could express that it’s good to hear a view from a liberal, without them being a libtard. And that word could be gone from our vocabulary.

What if we ALL just committed to listen. We talk past one another so much of the time. We want to TELL people what they should think. Instead of telling others, we could SHOW each other why we think the way we do.

We have an amendment to the Constitution. The second amendment. What if we each sat with each other and talked about the second amendment – about our Bill of Rights. The WHOLE Bill of Rights with the respect it deserves, and the scrutiny it deserves.What if that conversation took place at dinner tables, in bars, at PTA, at the grain elevator, at the beach, or in local caucuses. What if it took place with a commitment to listen.

WHAT IF?

We could create a new language. We could create terms like:

Firearm education: not training for shooting, but about statistics of gun ownership, gun use and accidental gun deaths. No spin to the statistics — just the facts. It could be taught in civics, at community colleges, at churches, at book clubs.

Gun population: not a gun registration but a look at where guns are located by city, state, or nation. Talk about the correlation of guns to regions. What does a rural citizen use guns for as opposed to an urban setting.

Potential Risk: not about gun safety, but about why people have guns. Talk about how those guns are used specifically. Let gun owners talk about the risks they face and how they are using guns to address those risks. Let those who do not use guns talk about their experiences without a gun, and how they avoided – or dealt with directly – the identified risks.

Americanization of Guns: not about manufacturing guns in the US, but how the US has a unique dynamic with guns. Look at gun use around the world and compare it to the US. Those who own guns can look at how other countries get along with out lots of guns. Those who don’t own guns can examine what is unique about America that might explain why gun use is popular.

I’m tired of the fight. My position feels intrinsic to me, because it is so personal. I imagine those who own guns feel that same intrinsic feeling. We need to talk to one another. We need to be a neighborhood, a city, a state, and a country that can think critically, act communally and address the issues related to guns.

There is much to be said and done around the issue of guns. Maybe we can just start talking to each other, rather than assuming things about one another. We’ve had so many tragedies. The latest being the shooter of several officers and a state Representative. He’s recuperating.

How can we make our country recuperate?

Therein lies the question.

Mindfield: Be Better than Excuses

Edentu D. Oroso is the head of Special Projects Group for Kakaaki Magazine, a magazine published in Nigeria delving into development journalism. He is a seasoned magazine columnist, biographer, motivational speaker, and poet. A former President of the Writers’ League Benue State University Makurdi, Edentu is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Benue State Chapter and its former Director of Welfare. His published works include the eBook Tears From A Rose, Wings of Freedom – a biography of Ralph Igbago; and The Alfa Sky, a biography of Air Marshall Ibrahim Mahmud Alfa, Nigeria’s longest serving Chief of Air Staff. He coauthored The Hidden Treasure a compendium of essays on former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and coedited Voice of the Earth, an anthology of poems. He has been featured in many poetry anthologies such Sentinel Online, Bridge for Birds, and Cerebra(lity).

Read Part One here

Part Two: BE BETTER THAN EXCUSES!

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar, Bo Dallas, is one guy who has caught my attention and many others with his inspiring messages during and after matches every week. In a wrestling match in recent times, he quipped: “Either in this ring or in life, be better than excuses so you can be a success.” At other times, in his inspirational video clips, he’d ascribed people’s understanding of the word “Impossible” as strictly a matter of perspective. He says unequivocally that by changing our negative perspective of the word “Impossible” it takes on a positive reality, which is, “I’m Possible.” I share totally in Bo Dallas’ sentiments and owe the title of this piece to him: Be better than excuses!

That every human being is potentially gifted and has the ability and capacity to achieve Olympian heights if there’s the willingness to be better than excuses is a truth so fundamental. All you have to do, as Bo Dallas espouses, is believe that “I’m Possible.” Yes, you’re possible! Your auto-suggestion that you’re possible is truly the requisite springboard in the realms of personal power; that which is loftier than excuses because you’ve got that exceptional quality to be a success in any given field of human endeavour. Why then must we perceive limitations on our paths as we listlessly plod down hills or walk briskly through valleys or climb steeply over mountains of life? Aren’t our limitations products of our incessant excuses? Are we just slaves to our mental stations by virtue of the power we exude but which we find hard to express in a positive sense?

Within the domains of our individuality, the taut strings that continually hamper our cherished flight toward the thresholds of unimaginable success are our excuses, often bordering on our perspectives that auto-suggest time after time portraits of impossibilities to the subconscious even where we are inundated by limitless possibilities.

It is hard to find anyone living that has never been bogged down at one time or the other with differing shades of excuses. But there are also many who have dared odds to succeed. And many more for whom windows of opportunities loom into significance in seemingly impossible situations. In our vivid or jaundiced perspectives certainly lies the difference. Every situation has its corresponding vista of opportunity. From the prism of desirable change, an excuse is but a perspective that’s alterable. And every perspective is subject to change given the right frame of mind. Once that perspective alters in the right direction, once that tasking situation is redefined through a fresh vista, the leap of destiny is given the perfect stage and impetus towards the manifestation of one’s dreams.

I’m a lover of professional wrestling and I’ve learned so much from it beyond the thrill it engenders. Through its suspense, intrigues, daring antics and inflections, the kind one gets from the WWE, there’s a metaphoric glare of individual efforts that are better than excuses. I’ve understudied the hype, the shenanigans, the bragging, brevity and mastery of skills wrapped up in professional wrestling. And it stands out as truly inspirational owing to the culture of resilience it evokes. Some people are of the view that everything in professional wrestling is stage-managed. I’d rather disagree with this point of view than accede to it for obvious reasons. The risks are real, even though certain moves, utterances or actions might be feigned. The risks, in their entirety, epitomize those every day hurdles that we come across on our paths and which we strive to overcome.

Weeks prior to Wrestlemania XXX, diminutive Daniel Bryan went through hell literally in the hands of some principal owners of the WWE – notably, Triple H (Hemsley Hunter) and Stephanie McMahon (the daughter of Vince McMahon, the owner of WWE) – who ganged up with some stooges of the authority to ensure he (Bryan) never became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Every match that would have taken him closer to the championship belt was either interrupted by Triple H’s buddies or stooges, or the odds staked so high by the authority that it was nigh impossible for Daniel Bryan to even dream of winning those matches. Yet Daniel Bryan was a fighter whose never-say-die spirit or goal-getting attitude could never be damped by mere hurdles or molehills on his path.

The hour of reckoning finally came. It was Wrestlemania XXX, 2014, the biggest sporting extravaganza of them all. Daniel Bryan, considered a “B+” player by his detractors in spite of his “A+” proficiency in the ring, was to feature in the main event. However, WWE’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Triple H – a 13 times World Champion – gave Daniel Bryan who had never won the championship belt, the opportunity to showcase how good he thought he was. Daniel Bryan’s first opponent on the night of Wrestlemania XXX was none other than the arrogant and vindictive COO, Triple H. According to the stipulations, the winner of the Triple H versus Daniel Bryan match qualifies for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match (the highest prize in professional wrestling) later that night featuring 6 times World Champion, Dave Batista alias The Animal and 13 times World Champion Randy Orton, alias The Viper.

A day before, to ensure that Daniel Bryan never made it pass the initial match with Triple H, the latter had interfered in a match featuring Daniel Bryan and another wrestler. Triple H deliberately broke Bryan’s left hand with a steel chair out of spite, making his plan to win in their scheduled match in Wrestlemania XXX almost full-proof. So it was unthinkable for the injured Daniel Bryan to face a ferocious and blood-thirsty wrestler like Triple H known by his viciousness as The Game or Regal Assassin and hope to win.

The chants of “Yes!Yes!Yes!” by the multitude of Daniel Bryan’s supporters resonated throughout the arena as they cheered him on. It wasn’t just mere voice calls and hand gestures indicating victory but a wave or movement of positivism started by Daniel Bryan a little over two years ago to affirm that everyone has the power to change his circumstance within the context of the human will, especially in relation to wrestling.

Nudged on by his teeming supporters, Daniel Bryan did the impossible with the broken arm – he fought doggedly and defeated Triple H in an extraordinary match despite the intervention of Triple H’s buddies, Randy Orton and Dave Batista, who didn’t want Bryan to wrestle with them later that night for the championship belt in a triple-threat match. The WWE universe was livid with surprise at Daniel Bryan’s incredible performance. He won against odds. That was just a tip of the iceberg.

At the main event in Wrestlemania XXX, Dave Batista, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan took the stage. For Daniel Bryan, he had so much at stake. He had just fought in one night a gruesome battle with Triple H, one of the meanest and most skillful superstars in WWE; now he had to take on another two of the finest in the business, still with the broken left arm and still not fully relieved of the exhaustion from the earlier match with Triple H. But the warrior in Daniel Bryan shone through. He neither cowered from the looming danger personified by the duo and the authority, nor did he let his broken arm become the excuse to fail in his attempt to do the impossible – to clinch the coveted WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt – a chance of a lifetime.

The odds were high, yet Daniel Bryan stood tall, fighting like a wounded bull, surmounting all the intrigues brought to play by the authority that never wanted him to win. He won the duo of Dave Batista and Randy Orton in a most historic way in spite of Triple H’s intervention and his injured arm. The world was stunned by his rare feat. Once more, the chants of “Yes!Yes!Yes!” from the WWE universe reverberated, so profoundly. They were proud of this petit wrestler with a broken arm who had defied all odds to the top of the wrestling ladder as the new world champion.

The summary of the event: In one night and with one healthy hand, Daniel Bryan fought three of the finest wrestlers in the WWE and won two of the most coveted belts in history, becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion on the grandest stage of it all – Wrestlemania XXX. That feat is simply referred to as being better than excuses.

There was every reason for Daniel Bryan to cringe at the thought of defeat in the hands of Triple H, Dave Batista or Randy Orton, but he didn’t. There was every reason for him to quit with the broken arm even before the matches began, but he preferred the choice to fight on, to be better than excuses. Precisely, that’s what we all need at this moment in our lives…to be better than excuses.

Flip Daniel Bryan’s story and juxtaposition it along your own personal life story. It’s the same old story of you confronting odds every now and then. But then Daniel Bryan was better than excuses. Would you say the same of yourself? Flip the story again in terms of our national aches. Can we easily say we have leaders that are better than excuses? On a personal level, we seem to have excuses for everything gone awry. On the national spheres, the story isn’t different. To turn on new pages in our lives and in our nation, we ought to be better than excuses because that’s when we soar unto glory.

Writing Genre: Corrie Lavina Knight

I write science fiction. Why, I don’t know, as I almost never read the genre. I tend to gravitate toward it in films and television shows, but my preferred reading genres are fantasy, historical, mystery, and romance. I suppose that would explain why my first series is a highly political space western.

Chat with Corrie here.

To ISBN or Not ISBN.

Self publishing? Need an ISBN? CreateSpace will give you an ISBN for FREE! Woo hoo!

But wait, if CreateSpace or other POD’s give me an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) – what’s the drawback? ISBN’s assigned to you by CreateSpace are “CreateSpace Assigned ISBN’s”. In other words it’s a place holder used only within Amazon marketing matrix.

But there are some options if you use CreateSpace:

  1. The option above, CreateSpace Assigned ISBN
  2. Custom Universal ISBN (for $99)
  3. Or you can provide your own ISBN purchased from an ISBN broker

Holy Crap…$99! That’s expensive…isn’t it? Actually for a universal ISBN, no – it isn’t. Arguably, the top ISBN broker is a company named Bowker. They sell a single ISBN for $125. The feature that most people use at Bowker is their group purchase option. They sell ten ISBN;s for $295, 100 ISBN’s for $575 or 1000 ISBN’s for $1500.

Why spend the money?

Here’s why.

  1. With a CreateSpace (or other POD) you are not the publisher, they are. Your book may immediately be disregarded by bookstores and potential reviewers as a vanity press project. I know when I was shopping my novel around to book stores they wouldn’t consider it if it had a CreateSpace ISBN.
  2. If you own the ISBN, you can move your book to a different printer if needed. Let’s say sales start taking off and you want to have copies on hand for book signings, you will have to pay CreateSpace the retail value for books. You cannot move it to a private printer for a run of prints to stock your book fair, book signings or public events. You will need to pay Amazon for your book!
  3. Lastly, buying your own ISBN’s means your book is listed with many retailers, libraries, Bowker Books In Print, Bookwire, as well as online services like Google Books, Apple’s iBooks, Chegg and the New York Times. Having your own ISBN gets your book OUT THERE!

So with my first novel coming out next month, I’m going to purchase ten ISBN’s. If anyone associated with IntrovertPRESS wants their own ISBN I’m happy to share. I would even be open to pooling resources or using crowd-sourcing to raise fund for ISBN’s. If you use your own ISBN, you can use IntrovertPRESS as your “publisher” so it looks like you are a traditionally published book.

We’re an author-netowrking site…let’s network!

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HUG – A – WRITER

Bill Scheltema, author of “The Feels” a contemporary romance novel is launching a promotional campaign video called HUG-A-WRITER. This campaign is a great effort to collaborate on our Indie works to cross-promote and break out of obscurity!

All you need to do is to take a few seconds to film yourself saying one of the phrases from the script. It has all the potential to go viral — so click a link and start generating momentum!

IntrovertPRESS is proud to partner with Bill — an unending source of inspiration and energy — to help promote indie authors throughout social media.

#authorconnect

IntrovertPRESS