Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Five Things I Feel Guilty About

And three I don’t.

In no particular order:

I feel bad about the Easter egg.  When I was in kindergarten, I won a small gold plastic candy-filled Easter egg in a drawing.  It was the first and only time in my life I’ve ever won a prize.  A classmate asked if he could have a mint from the egg.  I said “no.”  He was crushed.  Yeah, I know, it was only kindergarten, but I still remember that.

I’m guilty about the move.  Many years ago I forced my wife to choose between me and her career.  I had just landed my first job as a TV news director, a major career milestone that also happened to require a cross-continent move.  It seemed like a no-brainer:  my new gig paid far more than hers did.  But it didn’t even occur to me that she might love her job much more than I loved mine.  We were making good money and didn’t have to move.  She chose me.  I have no idea why, because I didn’t deserve it.  (Absolutely no one disagrees with me about that.)

I’m still mortified about the breakup.   When I was young and in love for the first time, my relationship ended suddenly.  My girlfriend and I had shared some great times, but our relationship was not stable.  We weren’t right for each other.  She knew it.  I knew it.  I sailed along in blissful denial.  She took steps.  Afterwards, dazed and hurt, I made a complete ass of myself.  Ultimately, she forgave me for it.  But I’ve never forgiven myself for my boorish post-breakup behavior.

I feel bad about that kid.   When I was in the seventh grade, I made a new friend, who then began a habit of walking over to my house unannounced.  I had another friend who didn’t particularly like my new acquaintance, and I found the kid’s surprise visits (he had to walk more than a mile to get there) to be annoying.  One day I and my other friend made fun of the kid to the point where he didn’t come back.  But nor did he ever say anything ugly to me about it in school.  To this day, my face gets red when I think about that.  The kid had class.  My friend and I did not.

I don’t feel bad about owning a gun.   One night many years ago, when my wife and I were living in a not-so-great neighborhood, a loud crash at the apartment door jolted me out of a sound sleep.  Jumping out of bed, I ran to the door—and there I stood, barefoot in my sky blue PJ’s, not knowing what the heck I was going to do if that door were to burst open.  I’m not a physically intimidating guy, and didn’t feel good about my chances of defending myself and my wife against a crazed intruder.   Running to the kitchen, I jerked open a drawer, grabbed a carving knife, dashed back to the door, and waited.  I’ve never felt so naked in my life.  The stranger went away.  The next day I went out and bought a handgun.

I feel good about not supporting the NRA.  The NRA has done a good job of defending the rights of gun owners like me.  I appreciate that.  Really.  But here’s the thing.  When I came back to Tucson as a TV news director in 2009, a really nice elected official called me personally on the phone from Washington to welcome me.  No one else did that.  The official was then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.   I had encountered her in an earlier Tucson TV news job, well before she went to Washington, but not in such a way that I thought she would remember me.  Certainly she didn’t mention it.  Giffords was just being nice, and professional.   One year later a madman shot that nice, professional lady in the head, along with many other people.   The latest (and doesn’t it say something that I have to qualify this sentence with that word?) shootings, including the recent ones in California, along with the Fort Hood shootings before that and the Pennsylvania school stabbings before that and many more mass-casualty incidents before those—remind us that it’s people who kill people, and some of them will find a way to do it with one weapon or another, no matter what.  There will never be a solution for that.  The essential problem is with us—humanity—not the choice of hardware.  Still, all things being equal, if we can improve the odds by taking reasonable steps to keep guns out of the hands of unstable individuals, it seems to me that would be prudent.  The NRA is fine with the way things are.  We part company.

I feel guilty about living in a society that is so awash in unrestricted gun violence.

I don’t feel guilty about saying so.


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©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

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