Posts tagged “NONFICTION

Sandy Hook

Posted on 04/01/2013


Penned by Billy Asare

I was at work when I heard the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.  Once I read the news, I felt shocked and deeply saddened.  It was painful to read that vulnerable young children and teachers lost their lives for what appears to be no reason at all. The pain quickly grew when I thought about the families who lost a loved one in this tragedy just before Christmas, which is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year.  And then I thought about the children who survived the shootings but must now live with this horrific memory.

Like so many other people, I cannot stop thinking about how this massacre could have been prevented.  We have heard opinions from staunch gun control advocates like Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  We have also heard rebuttals from supporters of gun rights as well.  Because the shooter was mentally ill, we have even heard from leading voices in mental health research and treatment.  From each person in the media, I’ve heard the same thing: something has to be done. As we move on as a nation, my concern is whether this terrible moment in history will result in relevant discussions to develop policy changes in three areas: 1. gun control; 2. security on campuses; and 3. mental health.

Gun Control

Let’s face it. The Second Amendment grants only a limited right to possess a firearm.  Not everyone can lawfully possess a firearm, and you can’t take your firearm everywhere.  As stated in District of Columbia v. Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” And the purpose in possessing a firearm is also limited.  The right to possess a firearm is limited to lawful purposes such as defending a home or hunting.  In addition, there are prohibitions to the type of firearms an individual can possess.  In Heller, the Court stated the Second Amendment only protects the right to possess firearms “in common use at the time.” The Court interprets this limit as a prohibition of weapons deemed “dangerous and unusual.”

What is a “dangerous and unusual” firearm? Sure some firearms easily fit the distinction of “dangerous and unusual,” and thus are clearly prohibited. However, I believe there could be some difficulty determining whether to label certain firearms as “dangerous and unusual.”  For instance, some firearms popularly used for hunting could be considered “dangerous and unusual” to individuals uninformed about hunting.  Moreover, I cannot find any reasonable basis for using an assault weapon to protect my home so I could conclude that assault weapons are “dangerous and unusual.”  This could be because I live in a safe and quiet suburban community. But maybe an assault weapon is reasonable to protect a home in the minds of individuals in rural communities of South Texas that have been affected by the rampant drug war. Perhaps for some firearms, the determination of “dangerous and unusual” may have to factor in the activity and the location of sane and law abiding person who possess the firearm in question.

Security on Campuses

I read an opinion article in the Houston Chronicle on the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The author proposed that school districts “train and arm certain of their teachers and staff to provide an extra layer of security and protection.”  I agree that our schools should have more security. After all, we trust schools with children to educate them in a safe environment.  Yet, “120 people have been killed and at least 110 wounded while attending school” over the past fifteen years due to gun violence.  So schools need to think about improvement in security.

But I do not agree with the proposed approach to this problem.  I think its best to let trained law enforcement officers protect our children instead.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have more armed officers patrolling our schools.

Mental Health

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook, President Barack Obama announced a plan to take a harder look at mental health issues.  This plan is long overdue.  Mental health research organizations do not receive proper funding.  Facilities that diagnose and treat those suffering from mental illnesses could use more funding and support.

In addition, we need to educate society on mental illness so that we can catch the signs of mental illness in family members and friends.  Well informed people on mental illness can do a greater job at finding the necessary help and be stronger supporters for those suffering from a mental illness.

Lastly, there’s an extreme social stigma about mental illness in our society.  Individuals who may show symptoms of a mental illness refuse to get help because of this social stigma.  They are so afraid of public ridicule that they are too embarrassed to seek help for a condition that is not their fault.

Years from now, I hope we can look back at our response to this tragedy as the moment we made significant progress in securing our schools, drafting effective and constitutional gun control laws, and transforming the way we think about and treat mental illness in our country.  As we figure out how to protect schools and other public places from a tragedy like what took place at Sandy Hook, we have to find solutions that ensure the mentally ill and those with wrong intentions do not have access to firearms to perform terrible acts of this magnitude. And for the mentally ill, attempting to limit their access to firearms is not enough.  They need to be treated, and we need to be more supportive and sympathetic to their condition.

The Adamic Sleep

Posted on 03/01/2013

Ebi Komo (My Dad ;))

brothersjExcept something is wrong, falling asleep is inevitable and a good night of peaceful sleep is good for everybody. Those so gifted can sleep, dream and recollect what they dreamt with degree of clarity and in some cases able to attach reasonable importance/relevance and in some cases derive meaningful interpretations from their dreams. As with most things, some dream repeated and disjointed dreams of masquerades without faces or forms every time without the possibility of even a dream merchant to proffer a clue of what they dreamt. Yet there are some like Nebuchadnezzar who upon waking up from what they know was restless nights of sleep, they completely forget what the nightmare was all about and in milder cases some doubt whether they dream at all.

There is yet another kind of sleep, the induced type that is activated to paralyze the patient from interfering in a needed operation. There is also the sleep walking who never know they are sleeping but are active, some go to the extreme of cooking a whole meal and consuming it and then return to sleep to wake up to wonder who the visitor that attended their kitchen. The human mind is mysterious as well as it is mischievous; if mischief is visited at another, it is common but if the mind plays on itself, it is the beginning of trouble if it is not understood and if it escalates. If a patient suddenly goes to sleep without warning and find part of his body missing or altered when he awakes, the patient would be confuse if others do not tell him what really happened. In this case, it is the more you look the less you see.

The work of an artist is recognized by those who had taken the time to study other works of the artist to identify the signature within the work. Hence art enthusiasts are able to pinpoint the works of their favorite artists amongst others. The Bible said God created man and man was alone. The Creator who knew what man was supposed to be knew he was alone and he needed a human companion to cure him of his loneliness. To cure him of this loneliness, God put Adam to sleep and did the needed operation. Being the resourceful God that He is, and to create the needed affinity He took a part of Adam to form another being fairer with features far different. (Curiosity does not kill cats only; it is difficult to be inquisitive from afar). When Adam came to, he was confronted with what was missing and the woo that escaped his drowsy lips became the goal of his pursuit for completeness as well as companionship.

A few observation of this may be beneficial to parents as well as young adults. Adam was alone and he did not know what was missing. When Adam woke up from his sleep, he did not wake up to see giraffes and hippopotamuses but to one fine lovely baby that stole what he thought was his heart. No, she did not steal it, God took it and gave it to a girl, and no it was not his heart but just his ribs and yes, men do exaggerate pain and loss of all kinds!  Go ahead and blame Adam. Where you fall asleep is very important and it is important to have the guards in place while you are sleeping because you never know what turns up when you wake from sleep.

There we have sons and daughters in a place and they are fast growing up but the adage that ‘how you make your bed is how you sleep on it’ escapes us. There will be a nap time but the beds are not made so we lie down where ever sleep overtakes us and we wonder why the crimped necks and unholy gifts find when we wake up. We desire particular sons and daughters in laws but there is none in sight but we make no conscious efforts to send them to schools/places with remote possibility in the morning when they get up from their sleep, yet the parental pipe dreams continue.

I will not forget a particular school mate that said, although my parents could barely afford it and I hardly qualified to be admitted, they sent me to this school where I have the potential of meeting the man of my dreams. Both sexes dream but one group controls what they dream about and work towards it while the other group seems to hibernate in thoughtless bliss until a hammer hits them awake to realize a missing part that they go pursuing to recover and be complete. It is clear why men seem to be behind always in this game of catch up and why sleepy Adam needs lots of help.


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