Local Heart, Global Soul

December 20, 2012

Dear President Obama…

Mikey, a fellow Blogger at “ Invisible Mikey” made a reblog of a petition for Gun Control reforms in the USA in response to the terrible tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary (Primary) School. http://invisiblemikey.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/2807/

At first as a Dutch/ New Zealand citizen I thought that I wouldn’t be able to sign it because I am not American and don’t live in the USA, but I found that indeed I could, so I did and I also wrote a short comment in the little comment box that was provided.

Now, after posting a different thread yesterday and seeing responses I find myself thinking again about this topic on many levels and wanted to write a post on the letter I would write if I were to present my views in a letter to the American President, Barack Obama. I suppose his office gets the equivalent of a small forest of trees in post every day, so my little letter from a land far away would be ineffectual, so I’ll just pour out my feelings here. (Note to my earlier readers, yes I added more text…)

Tying multiple thoughts together , my letter would read something like:

Dear President Barack Obama,
Like millions of people around the world I was deeply shocked and distressed to hear of the mass shooting of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary (Primary) School in Newtown, Connecticut, USA.

The scenario that unfolded there is every parents worst nightmare: innocent,  defenceless children and their teachers, assassinated in cold blood in a place where they should have felt and been safe: their school.

I simply can’t imagine the pain of the news that was delivered to some parents in Newtown that day: to be told that their precious child won’t ever be coming home again. Every person on the planet who cherishes the life of child as they should,  feels revolted by the actions of this madman.

From what I see as an outsider, it appears this could well have been prevented if this perpetrator’s ability to access weapons had been severely restricted, just as similar atrocities against the general public at other schools, theatres etc in America may also have been prevented.

There is far too much emphasis from the gun lobby about an individuals “rights” and not nearly enough on “ responsibility and accountability”.  I believe that sometimes the individual should sometimes give up a little of his “rights” in pursuit of the wider safety benefits to the greater community and society as a whole.

Not only are a tsunami of sea changes long overdue in the gun lobby but I believe also in the media too. Some people are truly mentally ill or just plain evil  and will take an undue solace in the fact that even when dead they will enjoy notoriety in the fact that they will always be remembered as the person who “killed the most at..”etc.
President Obama: I implore you to change national laws so that no perpetrator can be named in any mode of media, no image of a perpetrator may be shown and no family details revealed.  We should refuse to write their names, to give even negative attention, even to their memory.

The only people who deserve “attention” in these circumstances are the victims of their actions and a blanket ban that grants absolutely zero notoriety to the perpetrator must surely help to stop others with morbid illusions of grandeur.

Yes, usually the perpetrator has/had issues of revenge or mental illness etc, but that can be kept private because  it is surely self evident that anyone who is cable of such heinous attacks on innocents has serious issues of some sort.

I sincerely believe that the general public of your country are intelligent enough to have figured that out already. Therefore details are not necessary, except privately and in strictest confidence to the families directly affected.

I live in The Netherlands and my country is a safer place for having strict gun control, as  a parent of young children I wish for your children and parents to feel as safe in their communities as I do.

Please  use lessons learned from this terrible tragedy to save innocent lives in the future.

Should you choose not to, then no one will have had justice, and someone else  will loose their lives in another preventable situation.

Mr. Obama, you and USA lawmakers are in a position to prevent bloodshed and save lives, Please do not miss this rare opportunity and please make the responsible choice with greatest priority.

The World joins you in an outpouring of humanity and sharing of your national pain, sheds it’s tears and wishes you strength today but I believe it will judge you severely if you do not take this opportunity to make deep reforms in gun control and media reporting.

President Obama, I understand that the United States Gun Lobby is powerful, what I do not understand is why? 

Elsewhere in the world it is both possible to be a firearms enthusiast and a responsible citizen… you play your sport and then you leave your weapons in a secure vault at the Club.

A few private citizens might need a gun: for instance to shoot an dying animal on a farm but licences to obtain these weapons should only be given after exceptionally strict controls are carried out and regular stringent spot checks on access are made. Guns are ultimately a murder weapon and are a grave Responsibility not a Right.

What has gone so wrong with society that some people feel the necessity to stockpile arms and ammunitions for “protection” ?

What message does that end to the World about your education system, or faith and trust in one another? Massive issues about this need to be addressed at all levels, from individual level to national. Personally, I see this point in your history as an opportunity to address those issues.

For me at least the definition of “population” means private citizens who live together, not band of small private armies. I believe your constitution reads: We the People, and not “we the arms dealers…” does it not?

Your Senate and Congress are required to represent “the people”… so as far as I can ascertain we have:

– children who have pocket money
– are the voiceless citizens unable to make their own decisions in the eyes of the law
– are smallest, weakest and most silent and have no hope of getting what they want on their own.
v’s

– Gun lobby who have deep pockets
– hold all influence in your Senate and Congress
– are the biggest , strongest and loudest and hold most power in getting what they want.

Which of these two groups do you think should be given priority when upholding and defending their “Rights”?

.. or is it most literally and figuratively only the Gun Lobby who are allowed to “call the shots” in America?

There is an opportunity here for a Legacy that could change life in America for ordinary decent citizens for the better.

Yes, I am well aware that America has a long “history” and a “love affair” with it’s guns, but “history” is the past and surely after steady repetition of  truly terrible events like this the “love affair”  has proved to be an abusive relationship that such a relationship in the 21st Century should surly be well and truly over.

(Smoking was also once thought by the world to “do no harm” but we got wiser, learned and changed our position on smoking’s effects in order to save lives. Fixing Past errors in thinking commands respect, ignoring them: contempt.)

Sometimes there is a pivotal moment in a nation’s history where we are shaken to the core by events and need to take stock of ourselves as a culture and re-evaluate what society really needs and wants.  I believe that for the United States this pivotal moment is Now. Now it is time to look at the future and to take radical steps to make America a safer place for future generations.

How many innocent children need to be assassinated before someone  with the will and the authority does something to stop it?  How sick to your stomach do you have to feel before you get angry enough to stand up for them? I read once that a former President  of the United States said “the buck stops here”      

… This letter Mr. President,  is your buck.

December 15, 2012

When the Nightmare Becomes Reality…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Dear Readers,

I had a completely different post lined up for today all ready in the schedule and ready to post,  and slept most of the day as I’m home  from work sick.

There was no TV, no radio on all day:  Himself is also sick as a dog so when the kids came home, tired. cold and wet, and Kiwi Daughter in a foul mood it took both of us all of our energy to control the war she was trying to start and subdue the tantrums and  tears.

(It’s near the end of  term and starting High School has been a big shock to her system that sucks the energy out of the kid, she’s worked hard but the Christmas holiday can’t come fast enough for her as the strain of learning to be a “big kid”  shows.)

So, it’s 9.00 p.m. both tired kids are in bed and Himself,  looking like a zombie crashed out too within minutes. I realise I haven’t checked my email all day so want to stay up to check it… in my Favourites List is the BBC News website which I absently click on first.

The headline I am met with is essentially every parent’s nightmare: a mass shooting  at the Sandy Hook Primary School in Newtown, Connecticut, USA.   I shiver, and read with tears in my eyes.

A madman (he doesn’t deserve attention so I refuse to write his name) has gunned down children and their teachers, some 27 people, in what appears to have been a small town, close-knit community.  I simply can’t imagine the news that will be delivered to some parents in Newtown today, I wouldn’t wish this news on anyone, to be told that their child won’t be coming home.

It’s clear that teachers did everything they could, hiding children in cupboards keeping them silent as the perpetrator stalked the halls.

Some of the teachers didn’t stand a chance, their loved ones will also face the most devastating of news today too.

There will probably be a long and heated debate about the (in)famous gun laws in the United States…  but that’s for later. Right now I can only sit numbly at the shock of this news, and wonder how on earth those parents will cope now that this nightmare has become their reality.

Tonight I am reminded that our pitiful hassles are few, life gets put into perspective again and my kids get an extra kiss planted onto their sleeping faces, and even though I’ve already said it today, I want to take them in my arms and remind them again how much  love them, though I doubt they would appreciate being roused from their innocent dreams.

As the shock of this event ripples around the world, I can only hope that these parents could know that good and decent parents everywhere are thinking of them, praying for them and wishing them strength. Our tears flow and like you we can not comprehend the awfulness of this madness.

Rest in Peace little children… and the innocent adults who perished too.  You were taken too soon and the world mourns.

March 13, 2011

When the Stairs are too Narrow, the Dutch just Open a Window…

Filed under: THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Recovery on the foot front is annoyingly slow…

…(to be expected they said).

I’m getting frustrated with the limitations of crutches…

…(to be expected they said),

and whilst physiotherapy is producing small but steady results, there is no quick fix in sight and so this is turning out to be a large exercise in patience …

….(also to be expected but grump grump…  clearly I’m not always winning this one).

So… I’ve set my sights on sorting out photos that I took last year but hadn’t organised yet… and the result of that will be that you are now all squeezed into my camera case as I take you off for a tour of Amsterdam, Kiwidutch style.

Himself and I don’t get out too much without the kids, as parents well know,  life with kids is busy and in a normal month there are the usual rounds of  Birthday parties, visits to family, various playdates, scouting, sports, music, swimming, homework, park play,  and other events slotted in around it all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Invariably if a sleepover happens we have other kids at Ours, or have one of our two offspring  farmed out at someone else’s but it rarely happens that both are away at the same time.

So when suddenly we found that hey the kids will be out for a whole weekend, we decided to do something we haven’t done in way tooooo long, go to Amsterdam.

We have some specific ideas, (you, curious readers will have to be patient as “all will be revealed” in due course) and so we set out before breakfast from the Hague…

The architecture of Amsterdam is quite distinctive, in general the old buildings are  narrower than in the Hague,  but one thing is the same: the Dutch don’t waste precious space on staircases, so these are invariably narrow.

Naturally this poses problems when furniture needs to be gotten any further than the ground floor of the building, especially before the invention of the Lift.  So the Dutch needed an ingenious solution and built their old buildings with a large beam sticking out of the roof gable.  In the Netherlands we call this a “hijsbalk” (cantilever or lifting beam)

Embedded into this large beam is a massive hook, and the process of removal just involved the removal of the window on the floor there the furniture was required, a pulley and heavy rope attached to the hook, and plenty of manpower to hoist the object into the air until it reached the required level, where it was in turn hauled though the vacated window space at the front of the building.

Since it’s very effective and stairways in these building are still as narrow as they were three hundred years ago, this method of shifting large furniture is still in use today, so “houses with hooks” abound. In fact, it’s not unusual to see a few hijsbalk even on new buildings in the old city centre too.

I spy a few on the way to where we are going… Note to self: Do tell some of those buildings to stand up straight!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


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