Lessons from The Cajun Navy on Community

Written by Justin Bradley

In response to Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017 the “Cajun Navy” sailed to help others in need. During the days and few weeks that followed the devastation, these “sailors” demonstrated to the world that Americans will come to the aid of one another for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. People came from hundreds of miles away with flat bottom boats to assist those in need. These people put aside whatever differences they may have had with each other. Differences such as political party, color, sex, religion, and socioeconomic status to name a few did not matter.

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What mattered was the community, the people, even those from hundreds of miles away came to the aid of another community in need. Their actions go straight to the heart of Daniel Kemmis’s Barn Raising, where he highlights the issue of people putting aside their differences for the good of the community. “Lilly and Albert didn’t like each other much better at the end of the barn raising than at the beginning. But that day, and many others like it, taught them something important. They learned, whether they liked it or not, a certain tolerance for another slant on the world, another way of going at things that needed doing. They found in themselves an unsuspected capacity to accept one another. This acceptance, I believe, broadened them beyond the boundaries of their own likes and dislikes and made these personal idiosyncrasies seem less important” (pg. 121). It is in this tolerance of one another and community coming together for the greater good that Kempis writes about that the Cajun Navy demonstrates.

In 2013 and 2018 our Congress failed to put aside their political party affiliate and grasp for power which resulted in a government shutdown. The 2013 shutdown lasted for 16 days in which roughly 800,000 government employees were put on work furloughs, while others still worked without knowing when they would be paid. The 2018 shutdown lasted for only 3 days due to an extension being reached to extend the government for a few more weeks to allow Congress to work on a budget. Time and time again we have seen gridlock and members of Congress inability to work together even for simple resolutions such as a budget extension. Members of Congress in 2013 only had to look back five years at the ability of American citizens to come together for the greater good because it is being is expected. Members of Congress only had to look back a few months and yet they still can’t agree on anything. Today Congress seems to be more fixed on stalling the other party from accomplishing anything of importance. Trust has eroded in dealing with each other from different political parties, as well as doing what is best for the community (the Country as whole in this case). Instead far too many politicians are concerned about their districts or state. For inspiration on working together and the importance of it Congress need to read Barn Raising and look to the members of the Cajun Navy. As Kemmis wrote “And because Albert and Lilly and the rest of our neighbors were able to count on one another, they experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing a big, tough job by working together” (pg. 121). Plain and simple Congress needs to put aside their differences and work together to get the tough jobs done.

Posted in Cajun Navy, Communitarianism, Community, Kemmis | 3 Comments

Your Individualism is Sexist-Not Heroic

Written by LG

Classic individualist thinkers, i.e. Ayn Rand and Ralph Waldo Emerson, were pioneers in constructing political thought that is still existent in contemporary social and political life. The vehemently held beliefs amongst individualist, both of the past and present, hold in incredulously high regard the importance of living for oneself. There is no greater joy in life, and no sweeter satisfaction, than to live for oneself, and no one else. The praise of classic individualist thinkers, like the two previously mentioned, is a testament to how viscerally said ideology resonated with a group of people. However, the ugly truth behind individualism is that is is an ideology that can only be upheld by a person of privilege.

 

Who Gets to be an Individualist?

 

            In the novel, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a character’s dialogue is a lengthy testament to the importance of individualism. The character states that, “‘men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created,”(Rand, 1903, pp.408). Throughout the rest of the novel, Rand goes on to say that those who live a life dependent on a creator are equivalent to a parasite. This type of discourse has proven to be problematic. This type of discourse has created in a sense of othering. There are those who do-the productive members of the world, and those who depend-the parasites.

Individualism fails to exercise the understanding of the privileges and resources necessary to be a doer. Marginalized groups are given the bare necessity to survive, nonetheless produce. Furthermore, individualists-specifically Rand, go on to villainize producers who give. How can the playing field be equal for everyone to be doers, if they are prohibited from reaping the benefits of resources produced? Individualism is only plausible for privilege. Individualism is malicious to the marginalized.

 

Who Does Individualism Hurt?

            Individualism has bred the mentality that, as existent in the name, people must live for themselves. The shortcomings of one person/community is, therefore, a failure on their part to “keep up”. Individualism has bred a certain breed of callousness to the suffering of others. The notion that humans cannot be bothered, or slowed down, to help the progression of others, continues the proliferation of suffering amongst women in under-developed countries.

I do not want to sound like a radicalist. The suffering of women is not the product of one factor, one ideology, etc. However, individualism also serves no benefit to women in under-developed countries.

In the book, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, the plight of women on a global scale is studied in depth. In India, as per the book, 2 to 3 million women were prostitutes. According to a survey conducted in 2008, half confessed being coerced into the sex work industry (Kristof, 2008, pp. 6). The chapter goes on to document the hardships experienced by one of the brothel workers, in particular, Meena. During her time as a forced sex slave, Meena ended up giving birth to a young girl. The girl was held captive from Meena as an incentive for Meena’s complicity. In an eventual act of desperation, Meena sought out help from local police. The police not only dismissed her desperate cry for help, but mocked her pain (Kristof, 2008, pp. 6-8).

Individualists are not to blame for the misfortunes of women. Individualists are not to blame for the rampant prevalence of women forced into sex slavery. However, this dominant ideology that individuals must live solely for themselves continues to promote selfishness, and a lack of awareness of the livelihood of those without the same level of resources.

 

What’s Next for Individualism?

In addressing the gendered impacts of poverty, oppression, and violence on a global scale, individualism does not need to be dismantled in its entirety. Classical individualists presented ideas of great merit, that may exist within the revolution to gender equality, and the dismantlement of sexual oppression. In the essay, Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, he describes the power of committing to one’s own thoughts of how to live and act. Emerson states that, “the power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried,”(Emerson, 1841, par.81). Reliance on oneself can breed resilience. Promoting the ideal that there is power in the preservation of individual beliefs will continue to produce fighters for a cause. This is exemplified in those who overcome incredulous hardships. This is manifested in the story of Meena, and her determination to press onwards. But, in order to individualism to promote resilience, the aspect of selfishness must be eroded. Giving towards others should not be synonymous with giving away from oneself.

 

References

Rand, A. (2017). The Fountainhead. New York: New American Library.

Emerson, R. W., & Needleman, J. (2008). The Spiritual Emerson: essential works. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.

KRISTOF, N. D. (2018). HALF THE SKY: how to change the world. S.l.: VIRAGO PRESS LTD.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Emerson, Feminism, Individualism | 5 Comments

Political Philosophies of the NBA

Written by A.M.

Basketball is one of the few team sports where one individual effort can trump that of the entire opposing team’s efforts.  Unlike football where the team or the coach might represent the franchise, basketball is different. The NBA would fail if its top performers and stars (below) quit. But still, it’s a team sport.  So the question begs, which political philosophy is most prevalent in the league?  How could civic republicanism and/or classic liberalism help teams and players find success?

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The front office:

NBA owners, GMs and other executives understand that they need everyone working together to make things happen.  They need this cohesiveness and optimization to gain a competitive advantage over other franchises.  If executives worked from a philosophy of individualism the product they put together just wouldn’t make sense.  If every decision maker from the top was only worried about bolstering his/her resume by making deals, then the franchise would suffer from those selfish moves. Everyone must work for each other towards a common goal of building the team that is envisioned.  For these reasons I see NBA front offices with a mindset of civic republicanism.  (Below is Laker’s President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka)

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Coaching:

Most NBA coaches have to deal with the cards (players) they are dealt with.  They also have to work towards goals set by the front office they work for.  Surprisingly these goals don’t always have winning as a top priority.  A coach with a philosophy of classical liberalism would want to individually perform their best. Working hard at what they do to produce wins, mastering their craft as an individual. But this job requires a philosophy of civic republicanism.  Instead of worrying about themselves as individuals, they need to sacrifice that mindset and worry about the greater good of the franchise.  Sometimes this sacrifice can even stain their reputation as an individual.  These coaches need to share the collective goal of the franchise as a whole.  While losing games might ruin public perception of a coach, those losses can grant a team with a high draft pick who alters the franchises path for decades into the future.  It is so important that coaches see the collective goal and work towards that instead of their own personal goals.  (Below is Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich)

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Players:

When considering there are less than 500 jobs to play professional basketball in the NBA, one could infer that these individuals were able to maximize the performance of themselves.  These jobs are highly coveted and most players have a chip on their shoulder from all of the doubters they proved wrong to get to this point.  If a player were to worry or sacrifice too much for a teams good they would likely not have ever been recognized to get to this point.  Executives don’t look at a college team and say “That is the team that I want”, they look at a single player and know that they want that single player.  This is why I think that NBA players have to have a philosophy of classical liberalism. Every player as an individual needs to maximize their performance, their craft, their contribution in order to have any success at all.  Obviously there is a big team dynamic.  But everyone on the team knows that they as an individual need to work extremely hard to accomplish anything. (Below are former teammates Lebron James and Kyrie Irving)

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The answer isn’t just “civic republicanism” or “classic liberalism”.  The answer is a calculated mix of both throughout all levels of the process.  Some jobs in the professional sports industry need that shared goal where everyone chips in to achieve success.  Other jobs call for individuals worried about themselves doing their thing.  A healthy mix of both philosophies together can be used to achieve greatness.

Posted in Civic Republicanism, Classic Liberalism, NBA | 6 Comments

One Paycheck Away

Written by Kaylin Kaufman

Americans are concerned with a variety of issues today, both politically and socially. Whether the focus is on the President, government shutdowns, or the recent stock market crash, Americans enjoy debating on current issues and which actions should be taken. However, Americans can occasionally become distracted by smaller issues, instead of focusing on the bigger picture. One large and complex problem Americans are living with, but rarely discussing, is the issue of mass poverty. According to CNN, almost three-quarters of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, with little to no emergency finances. How can America be the best superpower in the world with so many of its own citizens risking bankruptcy? Housing is too expensive in most cities, wages have fallen, healthcare is incredibly expensive, and more senior citizens have to put off retirement. Finland, Germany, and France, along with many other countries, have taken many measures to prevent large-scale poverty, including the controversial Universal Basic Income (UBI). As Judith Schulevitz argues in her op-ed “It’s Payback Time for Women”, implementing UBI in America would “…reduce the ill effects of poverty and therefore the cost to society of bad public health, crime, and incarceration” (Schulevitz 1). Providing all Americans with a small annual stipend, even just $500, will help America progress. Allowing Americans to add to their savings, pay off a debt, have an extra month’s rent, or even just extra spending cash will help the economy and lessen the stresses of many Americans. The benefits of creating a UBI in America are too great to ignore. Implementing a small annual stipend, perhaps an amount between $500 and $3,000 a year could be paid for through an increase of taxes to the wealthy. However, this idea presents problems. Almost every attempt of increasing taxes for the ultra-wealthy has been fruitless, partially due to lobbying efforts to block legislation. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett do not pay their fair share of taxes, which not only includes their lower income taxes, but also their completely untaxed investment funds. Enacting higher taxes for billionaires could provide poor Americans with a potentially life-saving amount of money, while hardly causing a dent in a billionaire’s bank account. Warren Buffet himself wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that the rich elite should pay more in taxes, prompting President Obama to include the “Buffett Rule” in his tax proposal, which would have increased taxes on people making more than 1 million dollars a year to 30% (Buffett 1).

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Americans need to realize how little a billionaire’s bank account would be affected with a slight increase in taxes for both income and investments. A billionaire losing $20,000 in taxes would make that back in a minute. According to Business Insider, the top six billionaires in 2013 made an average of $22,000 per minute (Business Insider 1). The elite 1% have the means to provide America with a UBI, benefitting the people who need those few hundred dollars the most. Americans should not have to worry about choosing either food or rent money. The addition of a Universal Basic Income will not solve the problem of mass poverty, but it will help.

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Works Cited

Shulevitz, Judith. “It’s Payback Time for Women.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Jan. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/opinion/sunday/payback-time-for-women.html?_r=0.

Buffett, Warren E. “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Aug. 2011, www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html.

 

Roche, Julia La. “Here’s How Much 10 Of The Richest People In The World Made Per Minute In 2013.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 19 Dec. 2013, www.businessinsider.com/what-warren-buffett-makes-per-hour-2013-12.

Posted in Poverty, Uncategorized, Universal Basic Income | 8 Comments

Individualism & Civic Republicanism: A Tribal Perspective

Written by Samuel Clark

As a Yup’ik (Inuit) man, I was raised in what many would consider a unique upbringing that has influenced the way I view the relationship between individualism and civic republicanism. Tribal cultures, particularly Native American cultures have a strong sense of community and support of their kin (and extended families). While not all tribes function the same way, most that I have come to know highly value their community.

 

This is evidenced by community-centric practices such as the sharing food and game with other members of the tribe. I can say from firsthand experience that in most hunting and fishing seasons, if a family in the tribe has had a bad haul, they can without a doubt rely on someone else in the community to look out for them.

 

Traditional Smoked Fish Drying Rack

 

The life Kemis describes in Barn Raising is a direct parallel of tribal life. It is a common notion in tribal Alaska that life is far easier for all, if everyone bands together for common goals. It may be anecdotal evidence, however, what I have come to assess in my life in a rural community, is that despite all the small town politics and drama between families, the community always takes priority. Kemis would argue that because of the rough lifestyle of rural living, civic republicanism (or some form of it) is a luxury that citizens cannot opt out of. This explains the trend to favor confederations as political structures, and further suggests that Alaska Native tribes (or tribal systems in general) would be staunch federalists.

 

Yup’ik Men in A Hunting Party

 

A major critique of Kemis is that the rural model doesn’t fit for all societies, especially urban communities. While the point stands, arguably, these republican values also leak into the life of urban Alaska. While the larger cities like Anchorage tend to favor the individualistic, many enclaves of tribal citizens exist and they bring their local values with them. Community events such as potlaches are commonplace for urban natives and chances are, if you look hard enough you’ll find some link to an extended family in the city.

While society as a whole in tribal communities is highly community-centric, there also tends to be streaks of individualism and expression that break the mold. Dancing, crafting, and storytelling are just a few of the ways that cultures such as mine show personal vigor, as well as coordination in a group. Even further supporting this spirit, as a culture that values tricksters, the Yup’ik would tell stories of great men who embodied the typical individualists. What this tells me is that like most cultures, tribes have somewhat of a mix of the two, however are heavily leaning toward civic republicanism.

Posted in Civic Republicanism, Individualism, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Bystander Silence vs. Bystander Intervention

To stand up for what you believe in has never been a simple task. Even children are taught to “do what’s right,” yet more often than not the answer to problems in our community is simply silence.

In watching a video on combating racism (link below), I was reminded again that a major reason perpetuating the presence of racism in society is bystander silence. Why is that? It seems that the vast majority believe racism is “bad”, whether that means racism toward people who are white, black, or any other ethnic minority. I’d argue that people, nearly universally, would rather stay quiet than to get involved in a fight on behalf of someone else.

The struggle for justice is a theme visible in Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”. Upon drawing the marked slip, Tessie Hutchinson repeats, “it isn’t fair.” However, the unfortunate villager never spoke out against the system or the practice until it turned against her; as a result, I as a reader am able to feel only minimal sympathy for Tessie.

And this isn’t just a regular occurrence in fiction, either. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who penned Night, describes “the perils of indifference”. In claiming that “indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never [the] victim”, Wiesel reminds us that the horror of the Holocaust was, in part, the result of bystander silence. “If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.”

But, of course, we have since learned that they did know. The Pentagon, the State Department, the President of the United States knew. And they chose to not intervene, they chose to not send aid — and they chose to turn away the St. Louis, with its “human cargo” of “maybe 1,000 Jews” seeking refuge from the genocide.

It’s a disturbing story, and one that puts into perspective the many shapes and forms that indifference can take. Evil is not always a village stoning; bystanders are not always powerful, influential politicians; genocide is not always as easily identifiable as concentration camps, whether in Germany for Jews, or in the United States for Japanese-Americans. Sometimes, the crisis is “just” a racist stranger shouting on a train, or a casual commentator asking a sexual assault survivor, “how much did you drink?”

The call to do something to fight injustice can be sometimes be hard to hear, or scary to heed, but it brings up another important question:is there a point at which bystander intervention goes too far? What, for example, should we think about punching a Nazi? Clearly, that’s the opposite of bystander silence. Is it an act that erodes freedoms of speech or assembly, as the fascists themselves may fight against, or is it simply the dutiful protection of an oppressed minority? If violence works, can it be morally or ethically right?

5 Ways to Disrupt Racism: https://www.facebook.com/filmsforaction/videos/10154000910775983/?hc_ref=ARTmGvNxDTl9WIuU0xb-D3RCZLSf-rZqQPCUTtKypm8HDz5ibfw_hNVvIh6DEfQaKGk&pnref=story

Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”: https://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf

Elie Wiesel, “The Perils of Indifference”: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/wiesel.htm

The Black Bloc: Inside America’s Hard Left https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7x44xd/the-black-bloc-inside-americas-hard-left?utm_campaign=global&utm_medium=ctabutton&utm_source=vicefbus

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Tax Cuts

Although taxes have consistently strengthened the economy while contributing to infrastructure, the misappropriation of taxes is truly a problem in the United States of America. We have a culture in which the wealthy pay more to subsidize for the less fortunate. By incorporating a flat tax, corporations would be inclined to spend more of their revenue in the economy which in turn, can lead to more job growth and a stronger economy as a whole.

We can learn to change the current tax system by understanding how it works and what it is not doing correctly. The current tax system tends to tax the upper class significantly more than the lower classes which inhibits their want to invest in their respective businesses as well as the economy. This is extremely significant due to the fact that it results in less job and economic growth for society as a whole. Moreover, the discrepancy of taxes is apparent in the foreign investments businessmen are beginning to make overseas. This is extremely noteworthy due to the fact that foreign citizens would in turn be benefiting rather than the American people.

By the same token, the lower class tends to feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to taxes. They believe that the upper class is automatically responsible for paying their taxes for the simple fact that they make more money than they do. This ideology needs to stop due to the fact that a business man making a hundred thousand a year has a significantly larger portion of their income taken away for the simple reason that they make more money. Clearly, this does not make sense.

Another benefit that lower taxes could bring to corporations is incentive to pay their employees more. This is due to the fact that there would be more money left over at the end of the fiscal year. By incentivizing employees to work harder, better, and more efficiently, businesses would thrive financially while minimizing expenditures at the same time. As Donald Trump said during his 2016 presidential campaign, in which he won by significant proportions, “China is killing our jobs.” This statement is incredibly and fundamentally insightful due to the fact that businesses are more inclined to take their businesses into countries in which regulations are lowered and the tax bracket is almost non-existent.

As a society, we must begin to change the way we view taxes and the appropriations as whole. This begins by communicating with our local representatives in order to ensure that they know what we (the constituents) want from the government. By assuming that taxes are going to one day be lowered, we are not doing ourselves any help. By mobilizing the United States Congress, we can begin to pass legislation which can ensure lower taxes for the upper-class and corporations in order to generate job growth and a much stronger economy than we are seeing today. If we continue to adopt our current tax system, we will not be able to have growth of any kind.

 

 

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Surfin’ Like its 2006, Bro

When it comes to the results of election day,” there are two potential outcomes that equally excite the politically inclined: firstly, and most obviously, there are the “toss-ups,” races which are so close that they could potentially swing to either candidate. Secondly, we have the opposite of a toss-up, which are landslides, races that are completely uncontested and result in a blowout victory for the winning candidate. Every several election cycles or so, there is a shift in the general will of the public, and that change is reflected in the results that are read come election night. Races that should normally be a landslide for one party become toss-ups, and races that should normally be contested quickly turn into landslides across the board for one party. When this alignment occurs, and everything appears to go right on election night for one party, the event is called a “wave election.”

To understand the impact of wave elections, as well as how they come to be, I will briefly summarize the circumstances and climate of the notable waves of 2006, in favor of the democrats, and 2010, in favor of the republicans. After 12 years of republican dominance in the legislature, democrats captured the both the House and Senate majorities in the 2006 elections, as well as a majority of governorships. There were several factors leading to the democratic wave, but two were considered the most significant: the unpopularity the Iraq War, and the scandal ridden republican leadership in congress. Independently, these factors may very well have been enough to ensure a democratic advantage; combined, however, they resulted in a democratic gain of 31 house seats, 6 senate seats, and 6 governorships.

When 2010 came around, though, republicans got their revenge. Following the passage of the Affordable Care act and the bailout of Wall Street, democrats were crushed by one of the biggest waves in American political history, losing 63 seats in the House, 6 in the senate, and 6 governorships. Unlike previous election cycles, where waves were largely formed by dissatisfaction with war, scandal or the economy, republicans were able to achieve total victory through grassroots organizing and a lack of democratic enthusiasm. Republicans are still being rewarded by the benefits of the 2010 election, although the party may soon end with democrats honing in on 2018.

After huge gains for democrats across the country last week, but mainly in Virginia and New Jersey, many are forecasting that the 2018 elections are shaping to be a massive wave in their favor. Democrats won both governorships by large margins, acquired total governmental control of the west coast, and somehow managed to win or at least come close to winning the Virginia House of Delegates. These victories are in addition to these various statewide races that democrats won, many of which were in republican strongholds against strong incumbents. If democrats can sustain these results going into next year, then it is likely that there recent victories will be replicated on a fully national scale. Additionally, there are already several factors that could be conducive to a democratic wave in 2018, aside from the 2017 results. For example, nobody knows how far Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation will go and what it will find. Already plagued by scandal after scandal, it is difficult to see how the Trump administration and republicans would recover from any clear revelations of collusion with the Russian government. Some of the biggest waves have occurred after major scandals, such as in 2006 and in 1974 following Watergate. Couple scandal with an unpopular president and a lack of any, popular or otherwise, legislative achievements, and 2018 might be a tough year for the republican party.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/us/politics/08house.html

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2010/11/05/measuring-the-size-of-election-2010s-republican-sweep

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The Case for a Common American Mythos

There is a tendency these days to examine our national past through a far more critical lense than ever before. Old narratives surrounding our founding and our principles are dug up and dissected. Hypocrisies are exposed within these are exposed. Our history looks far less appealing when dragged out into the stark light of our modern values. In general, it is a healthy thing to look back and understand the mistakes of our past, but it is a difficult thing for many to face; that the foundation of their national identity may not be as clean cut and virtuous as they once believed. Many, understandably do not enjoy a key part of their cultural identity being marred in a negative light.

This close examination of our history dredges to the surface many skeletons which are worth examining and learning from. This is a helpful thing, and being honest about our mistakes and learning from them builds a stronger America. The problem lies in trying to uproot cultural traditions that may have associations with such mistakes of the past, especially when their contemporary celebration or usage do not directly promote these travesties. We are an increasingly divided and polarized nation, partly due to a diversification in the variety of entertainment and news sources we consume. We are increasingly lacking common cultural reference points. The advent of the internet targeted advertising, and streaming services has created a market of tailor-made content for everyone to enjoy.  The supply for content that reinforces our beliefs has met the demand, and it is formidable. Political discourse has fallen so low, not due to lack of common ground, but instead to lack of a common understanding of reality. Without this framework, any attempt any meaningful debate quickly collapses. There no longer is room for compromise when each side, left-and-right, has been trapped in a reality distortion field that drags them deep into a cycle of ideological self-affirmation.

This diversion of political perceptions of reality has left the nation crippled. We have a dysfunctional Congress that is beholden to an increasingly irrational electorate which seems incapable of escaping the echo chamber, a President who seems to be in many respects the result of said echo chamber. This great divergence on what American values are is untenable. A solution might be to open up and promote our national mythos. The nation is in need of a grand narrative of our shared history in a way that promotes inclusive values so that every citizen may feel a stakeholder. Indeed, to some, the idea of “painting over” the mistakes of our past will seem objectionable, but America already has a separate national mythos to some degree. Many Americans revere our founders to an almost demi-god like status for their role in the forging of our Union and for their contributions to our founding principles, but most have come to terms with the fact that on close examination there is much to find unsavory about much of the men who got the ball rolling on the great American experience. Others may view this proposal with skepticism from a more ethnocentric point of view, such as those who criticized the cast of Hamilton for being all individuals of color (as I mentioned in my prior comment on the blog, which led me to write this post). The fact of the matter is this: America has changed and is changing. We have become more diverse not just in racial/cultural demographics, but in the content we consume. This is a great thing, but it poses the risk of isolating ourselves from the ideas of others and hunkering down amongst only those who think like ourselves. To avoid losing track of who we are as a country, and giving everyone, regardless of their background a stake in our nation, we should promote a forward-looking American mythos that builds off of our best ideas to promote who we should be.

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Is it a gun problem or a mental health problem?

Since I was a young kid I was always fascinated with firearms. I vividly remember shooting cans and lizards in the back yard with my BB gun. I would always read books about how people used to hunt for their food and the types of weapons they used. If you think about it, during the stone age people still found means for acquiring food, and killing each other. In today’s time, I find myself being a legal firearm owner and avid shooter. I enjoy building up my firearms for the looks, but most importantly the ease of operation. I’ve never had an accident with a firearm, I’ve never wrongfully used a firearm, and I’ve never broken any firearm laws. With that being said, I absolutely hate the fact that most people blame the firearms instead of the actions of human beings. A firearm isn’t going to discharge by itself, move itself, or even load itself. The problem with gun control in today’s day in age is the fact that people making laws to control weapons don’t know anything about them. People still believe that the AR-15 stand for Assault Rifle. In reality it stands for Armalite Rifle. A study shows that people want “military type weapons” banned simply because they are scary. If we take a look what has happened these past few weeks we can see how people want guns banned because of the Las Vegas shooting, and the Texas shooting. However, no one once mentioned the fact that these people had serious mental health issues. The mental health system here in the U.S. is broken and needs to be addressed 1000x more than gun reform. Keep in mind that firearms are just tools, just like a knife, car, fork, etc. It’s not logical to blame the fork for making you fat. It’s also not logical to blame the car for getting into a car accident. In the end, a person who truly has evil in their heart will find a way to commit a crime such as the one we saw in New York City with the rented truck. It’s time for logical firearm control instead of creating laws based on personal opinion and fear.

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