Thursday, August 21, 2014

Into the Woods for a Much Needed Reminder

It's been a while since I saw a stage show. Before yesterday afternoon, (Saturday, August 10 as I begin writing this post) I hadn't been to the theater in I don't know how long. I can't even remember the last show I saw that wasn't projected onto a screen rather than being performed live on a stage. Even the plays I HAD seen up until this point had been on Netflix, due to a lack of both cash and time to go to the theaters at which these productions were playing. That changed recently, when my better half of almost nine years now decided to purchase tickets to a show by Stephen Sondheim known as "Into the Woods", a fairy tale that takes the concept of the "fairy tale ending" and turns it on its head.

In summary: The show deals with several of everyone's favorite Grimm Fairy Tale characters such as Jack (of beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and their respective Prince Charmings. Their stories begin as we all know they do. Red is off to Grandmother's house to deliver a basket of goodies, Jack is of to market to sell his last cow for money with which to buy food from a local baker and his wife who, as part of their own story, desire a child. These characters, as well as the witch who imprisoned Rapunzel in her tower, all live within walking distance of a forest known simply as "the woods" wherein the characters are required to trek in order to accomplish their  respective goals. Act One of the play ends with each character having reached the supposed ends of their quests, and even has a finale musical number entitled "Ever After", that ends with the caveat "To Be Continued" spoken by the story's narrator. In Act 2, the story's moral of "be careful what you wish for" is explored in full.

Act 2 begins with the baker and his wife caring for their new child and contemplating adding a room to their home, Jack and his mother enjoying their (stolen) wealth, and Cinderella wishing to sponsor a festival such as the one she attended in Act 1. The witch has, thanks to the efforts of the baker and his wife in the previous act, regained her youth and beauty at the  expense of her magical power, as well. Thus is the stage set for what happens "Ever After".

Well, it turns out that "ever after" isn't as happy as the fairy tales would have us believe. Jack's adventures in the clouds have angered the wife of the giant he killed, and she is now looking for him so that she might bring him to justice. The giant's rampage destroys Red Riding Hood's home, and results in the deaths of several characters. At the end of the second act, we are treated with an ensemble reprise of the number "Children Will Listen", which warns that obedience and learning are not the same thing.

What's my point, you ask?

My point is that when I saw this show in high school for the first time, it affected me greatly, and has been my favorite show ever since. The viewing of that show on the tenth reminded me as to why. It served as a reminder that life isn't fair. We all, in our own way, have to journey "Into the Woods" at some point in our lives. When we do, we face the dangers of such a place, but we also experience the wonders. If we never journey into the woods, we might be safe at home and alive, but we're missing out on all the many paths and experiences that await.

When I first saw this show, I didn't realize that literally no one can avoid their own personal journey into their own personal woods. After having been through a few more experiences in the decade since I left high school, however, I realized unequivocally that I'd already journeyed there multiple times, whether I knew it or not. When I got my first job, learned to drive, even something as simple as driving somewhere I wasn't familiar with before. The realization was extremely emotional for me, and I didn't bother hiding the tears  that were brought to my eyes as a result.

In short, I learned something about myself during this particular journey into the woods, and I liked what I learned. I"ve been into the woods many times, and I've learned more than I thought in my time there. I've grown as a person by experiencing the seemingly mundane and every day problems that we all face as adults. I have, in short, matured without realizing it and I never would have done so without venturing into my own personal wood.

All in all, it's not  bad way to be.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Regarding the Second Amendment...

It's been quite a while since I've done this. personally I'm rather shocked that all of my followers haven't abandoned this blog in favor of people who've been able to update recently. I'm also glad to see that the opposite is true.

Why have I been gone for so long? To put it bluntly, I got bored. I ran out of outrage with which to fuel the passion I had when writing posts that pointed out the idiocy of the administration, or the infractions on our civil liberties by both federal and state entities. I simply didn't have the drive to continue for a long while. It didn't help that I was attempting to live something called "life" either. I continue with my court reporting lessons, a stint as an insurance salesman. Now, because of that decision, I have a lot more time on my hands. So, I decided to dust off the old blog and write down my thoughts on things that happen day to day whenever it strikes my fancy to do so.

I chose today to do this because of a recent Facebook debate I was engaged in regarding the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Someone posted an article on gun violence that prompted several others, myself included, to chime in on the discussion regarding that particular subject, as well as the second amendment in general. I came down in favor. Several others...did not. One, whom I had initially mistaken for being against the idea of an armed populace, was actually advocating ways in which guns could be made safer and easier to use by law abiding citizens. I unfortunately let my passions get the better of me and began treating him as if he were just another gun-grabbing wannabe tyrant. This proved to be a mistake.

During that conversation, I was lumped in with a sort of "gun culture" that apparently accepts the number of people being murdered by gun violence in this country at 30,000 per year. After this person's repeated use of that number, I decided to do a little digging and see if that number were true, or even accurate.

Turns out, after glancing over, the number is indeed accurate but, fortunately, the article I found broke down the number to its base components by incident type. Here it is copied and pasted by yours truly for all who read this to see:

Suicide: 18,735 deaths
Homicide: 11,493 deaths
Unintentional: 554 deaths
Legal interventions: 333 deaths
Undetermined: 232 deaths

Notice the first category, suicide. 18,735 deaths per year. This means that according to Politifact's source, almost half of those people that die every year from gun violence are people who decide to put a gun to their head one day and pull the trigger. Compare this to homicide, which is in turn almost half of what the suicide rate is. The rest of the study shows that gun accidents, legal interventions and undetermined incidents are but a pittance compared to the above two rates. This of course does not include those who get shot and survive the encounter, as I am merely deconstructing the number of deaths, not the number of shootings.

What can we derive from looking at these numbers? Firstly, let's look at the overall population of the United States. According to Google, the number is 313.9 Million. Of these 300,000,000 people, one third are subject to some form of gun violence, be it a death or an injury. Of that one third, one third are actual deaths, using the 30,000 figure from earlier. Of THAT group, almost TWO THIRDS are suicides, with almost an additional third being homicidal incidents.

It would seem to me that access to firearms is not the issue, as many would have us believe. What we need to really do regarding gun violence is examine not the "how", but the WHY of gun violence. Why are people shooting each other? What can we do to convince them not to? Or, failing that, the next generation?

I wish I had the answers. Sadly I do not.