Georgia On My Mind

With all due respect to my friends that live in the great state of Georgia, I wonder what is going on there.  The entire state (or at least their elected representatives) seem determined to push back the clock as far as possible.  The evidence may be found in two official acts taking place  in Georgia — one was a bill signed into law today.

First let me say, as many of you know, that I am not against guns.  I am against gun violence and believe that we as a nation can do a lot more to restrict the illegal use of weapons.  I do not consider more guns being carried by more people to be a deterrent to the illegal use of guns and I do not believe that it enhances the safety of the average citizen.  The biggest fallacy of all is the NRA pronouncement that the way to stop bad guys with guns is by good guys with guns.  I see.  Exactly who are the good guys?  The same ones that feel “threatened” and shoot unarmed people?

So today Republican Governor Nathan Deal signed into law the “Safe Carry Protection Act” (or as it is known in other circles, “the guns everywhere bill”).  The bill allows those with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns into bars, college campuses, government buildings, houses of worship and just about anywhere else, including by the way, airports.  (Under the bill TSA can still search for guns at checkpoints, but the individual with the weapon cannot be arrested, only  turned away.)  Oh, by the way, if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor for pointing a gun at another person, you cannot be denied a permit to carry.  My favorite part is that the police are not allowed, by law, to ask a person if they have a permit to carry — I guess they are supposed to assume that all armed citizens are legal. It also allows schools to arm their administrators, teachers and other employees.  Somehow I do not feel in the least bit safer.  I do feel like if I ever return to Georgia that I am going to be real careful about who I talk to.  I sure would not want someone to think my friendly “hello” in an unfamiliar bar was actually a not so friendly “hell no” and have them feel threatened and blow me away.

The second part of the progressive atmosphere in Georgia is demonstrated by the Georgia Department of Revenue approving the addition of the Confederate flag to their official state license plates. Admittedly they are specialty plates (also called vanity plates in some regions) requested by the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The fun part in this story is that the group previously had such plates, but the symbol was small.  Now the plates will not only have the same small symbol, but the new plate has the Confederate battle flag covering the entire plate and the “Sons of Confederate Veterans” takes the place of the issuing county on the standard plate.   The organization claims that they have just as much of a right to be proud of their heritage as does any other group.  Point taken.  However, these seem to be many of the same people who proclaim that they are true (get this) United States of America patriots.  The “America love it or leave it” types. Seems to me that in my Middle School history class I learned that the Confederate states were trying to create an entirely new country, separate and apart from the United States of America.  It should also be noted that before the Civil War the correct grammar was “The United States are…” and after the war the correct usage became “The United States is….”   Our country went through a very difficult time that forged the united nation that we are today. I see little reason to celebrate those that tried to pull it apart — no matter how noble they may have thought their actions to be.  Study it, yes. Understand why our ancestors did what they did (both North and South), yes.  And many other valid points of view.  While I do not begrudge the organization its “pride” I do not see why elected officials in Georgia are bending over backwards (you can look it up!) to support the official use of the Confederate flag. As a young boy I sometimes thought that the Southern soldiers were gallant, romantic and a lot more fun than the Northern soldiers.  And then I grew up.  I suppose some people never do grow up, but the last time I looked, the Civil War ended almost 150 years ago.  Get over it.

This Is Your Life

Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes? I have. Well not exactly “flash” if that means you are in danger and in an instant you remember all the things that you’ve done and should have done.

My “flash” took place over the course of about a week. And I wasn’t in danger. Let me explain.

I’m a hoarder. Not the kind that will ever get his own reality show or that you will read about in the morning paper when the police finally have to knock down my door to save me from myself. No. I’m the kind that collects files, especially personal files such as bills, cancelled checks, receipts that go with tax returns, that kind of thing. Oh. And notes and cards. And maybe key pieces of paper from volunteer Boards and Committees that I’ve served on. I’ve learned that there is really nothing that doesn’t come back around again and it helps to not have to re-invent everything every time. If I throw it away I’ll probably need it. (And please remember that I’m sooooo 20th century.) But sooner or later, reality — not a TV show, but the real thing — catches up to you and you realize that those cancelled checks from 1980 probably aren’t necessary anymore.

So I decided to clean out old files and get rid of everything. Well almost everything, some things you really do need to keep for future reference. Realizing that this is the 21st century and that much of it can and will be used against me if found by the wrong person, I needed to shred everything that I was throwing away. You would be surprised what additional personal information was collected in the “old” days before everything was automated and you could actually rely on the neighborhood banker or business not to sell your information.

Shredding checks takes a long time and is terribly boring as well. As a result, I actually started looking at specific pieces of what I was shredding. A big mistake, I know, efficiency experts really would not approve. What I found was that the events of my adult life could be traced by those checks. Who they were made out to and where they were written sent me careening down the road of my past. Fortunately, it was about 98% positive. But it was all there. Courting and marrying my wife. Establishing our first home. The travels that we took. Moving around the country as job requirements dictated. The birth of my son. The many schools that he attended and the subsequent school events we supported. Dealing with reliable child care or after school care. Sports (his and mine). Family vacations. Splurges. All of it there and it was an amazing, untapped, unknown accounting of nearly every key event in my life.

A mind-numbing process as much as could ever be turned into a pleasant and nostalgic review of the highlights of my life so far. A surprise and a lesson in taking in and enjoying the little tasks that pop up with unexpected treasures.