This last week had been a fun one: one I had anticipated for months.
Last fall, Diane and I drove down the California coast to visit friends in the southern part of the state. We stopped in San Luis Obispo to visit our niece, Kelly Hedgecock, who lives there with her partner Paul Carvalho--they both graduated from Cal Poly, and Paul is completing his Masters in Marine Biology--and Diane and I took Kelly out to lunch in nearby Pismo Beach.
Pismo is a lovely area: one little beach town that is sort of the center of five little beach towns that offer surfing, sunshine, great seafood, and of course the beach, not to mention the wonderful Monarch Dunes golf course Eric (Kelly's dad and my golf partner) and I played on Tuesday (very challenging, despite the short 5880 total yards).
So, after that fall visit, we talked with Eric and Jill and all agreed to rent a condo for a week during the summer and hang out on said beaches and links in close proximity to Kelly and Paul, rather than their always driving up north. The place we stayed was indeed just feet from the beach, and it was nice enough, but the Wi-Fi promised was at best schizy, such that my laptop could not even find the network, pretty much knocking me off the grid save my IPhone.
The truth is that was ok with me because it was a holiday, and my mates Todd and Zach could cover for me posting and tweeting the stuff I handle, so aside from watching the Warriors dispose of the Cavaliers Tuesday evening, no TV, no internet, no nothing save my e-mails and a couple of tweets.
That is what a vacation is supposed to do: give respite from the craziness of the world, and that we got, such that we did not find out about the massacre of the nine humans in a South Carolina church until Thursday morning, as we sauntered back up the coast to our home in the bay area.
I have written enough times on this site, and in this space even, over the years speaking out against such holocausts and atrocoties and bigotries. I am sorry to do it here where I know you look for a break from the craziness of the world, much like we went to Pismo for a few days.
But, too many times--Newton, Aurora, Gabby Gifford, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray just to name a few of these outrages--the behaviors we exhibit as Americans when we are ostensibly all created equal, all supposed to be subject to the same laws, and where the justice associated with these slaughters is not even close to meted out in a fair manner despite "equal protection under the law" we are supposed to enjoy.
Somehow, 300 million guns are not enough in our country, and somehow just simple laws controlling who gets to have guns, and where, and what kind is more important to protect than are the lives of the citizens who wind up being victimized by those same weapons.
Just in poking around, I discovered that between December of 2012, when Sandy Hook occurred, and June of 2014, when a student killed another student, wounded a teacher, and then killed himself in an Oregon school, there were no fewer than 74 school shootings. That is schools, where our children learn, right?
But, trying to simply be sensible and reduce the number of bullets in the clip of an automatic weapon that the forefathers never imagined, is not only an impossibility, but it has been protected with simply an interpretation of the second amendment that suggests we have the right to maintain an armed militia, but nothing about personal individuals having a similar arsenal.
And, those gun laws are also protected by the same bigots who do not understand that the Confederate flag is just as offensive as a Nazi flag, both symbols of oddly similar supremist philosophies, the victimization, exploitation, and death of millions of humans at the behest of those in charge, essentially at a whim.
But, as with protecting the gun owners, rather than the victims, the flying of the flag is alluded to some kind of honor despite the fact that the banner really represents the worst within us, and the reality is it also represents a treasonous revolution that simply failed, and while it may be considered noble to die for a cause, that particular effort was an evil one.
I wrote awhile back about the Supreme Court dismantling a lot of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, with Chief Justice Roberts declaring that "racism in America was over."
Obviously, that is not even close to true as we can note simply from the cause of the South Carolina perpetrator.
Of course, all the talking heads are buzzing about how could this happen and how to stop it, but it does not seem like anyone with any real power is particularly interested in pushing back bigotry (think of a right wing portrayal of the President as Hitler), let alone controlling what kinds of weapons our responsible citizens can own.
It does come up often enough that Americans do need to have a serious discussion about race, and I do think that is right, but I do think we are approaching this in the wrong way.
I have thought about this in the context of Caitlyn Jenner's conversion in concert with the resignation of Rachel Dolezal from her NAACP post because she lied about her race (and, the truth is the lie was worth a firing, but her race had nothing to do with it, per the NAACP).
While it is true human beings come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and colors, the truth is we are all the same: we are all neurotic beings looking for some acceptance and acknowledgement somewhere during our limited time on earth so that we don't feel our individual existences were meaningless. And, if freedom of choice and expression are traits American exceptionalism is supposed to emcompass, then who is to say that Jenner is a man or Dolezal is African American but them?
And, though culturally we might identify or be "typecast" as African-American, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Asian, first we are all Americans.
Second, there is only one race that covers this spectrum both here and abroad.
It is the human race.
That is what we are all part of, and until we deal with the idea of humans as part of that homogenous collective, there is very little hope for any of us.