Why Are You Here?

The Newtown, Connecticut tragedy has naturally been dominating the news and conversation here in the US the past several days.  As happens after any horrific event like this, debates arise over the cause and how we can prevent such atrocities from occurring again.  Similar to previous school tragedies, this recent event involved guns and a troubled soul.  Predictably the media and the public debate homes in on gun control and mental health diagnosis and care.

I had a discussion with several of my amateur radio friends, all advocates of weapon ownership.  I own several weapons myself, though I limit my activities to sporting and don’t really get into personal protection.  One of my friends took the position that we need to equip teachers with weapons to prevent or lessen these now more frequent violent events we’re seeing in schools.  I countered that it’s not practical, besides raising a host of day-to-day safety issues, equipping teachers would require massive amounts of training to really be effective.  Weapons in the hands of the untrained are statistically more dangerous than beneficial, and training needs to go well beyond merely being able to hit a target.  Most people, myself included, just don’t have the time or inclination to get this training and maintain it.  It’s essentially a lifestyle, and one that I don’t care to live.  I don’t want to continually be preparing for the worst and have to carry a weapon in my daily activities.  To me it’s quite honestly a deplorable and depressing existence, one that we shouldn’t have to live in this day and age.

My friend responded that to an extent as an amateur radio operator, I do live that existence, preparing for disaster.  He saw amateur radio as part of a regime of self protection and preparation for bad times, and presumably got his license for just that purpose.  The difference between our perception of amateur radio immediately struck me, to the point that I had difficulty formulating a response.  I’m in amateur radio because I enjoy radio, not because it may help me get through a disaster or combat an enemy.

There is a sort of society that has developed in the US over the past several decades, one of a combination of “preppers”, doomsday-ers, cynicists and political prognosticators.  They have a rather apocalyptic outlook on life, where no one can be trusted, especially the government.  The ills of life can be tracked back to legislation, taxes, freeloaders, or merely those with opposing viewpoints.  These people seem to make it their mission to inject their mantra into day-to-day conversation, whether it’s at work, at church, or even on the air.  You often hear this tuning across the phone portions of our bands.  Often they feel some need to “educate” others, fire up outrage, or just spread their narrative of negativity, a tapestry of plausible but often incorrect quotes and statistics.

I sometimes think of my estranged father who past away two years ago at 62.  He often complained about the course of the country. His death was untimely and unexpected.  I don’t know whether he’s with a creator now, or if such a creator exists, but his death made me aware of the futility of agonizing over bad scenarios when our time here is so limited.  While we certainly want to make this a better place for future generations, does this agonizing over what is possible but not probable serve a purpose?  Looking at this another way, what good is stocking up on guns and ammo if you’re very overweight and you get taken out by a heart attack?

I’m here to enjoy life.  We’re beyond feudal societies, the threat of barbarians invading, and drinking out of lead cups.  The world is not coming to an end, not from this tragedy in Connecticut, not from whether I may have to register my weapons, not because we don’t teach religion in schools, not because I have to pay taxes, not because any particular person is President, not because some state legalized smoking a plant or allows any two adults to marry, and certainly not because someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  I don’t want to spend my life as though everything is going to hell in a handbasket or live in continual fear or disdain of some enemy, real or manufactured.  But we seem to have a segment of our society living in this bubble or abyss, determined to pull the rest of us into it.

Why are you here, here on Earth?  Is it to live or just survive?  Perhaps you are concerned about the world, but are you concerned about it for everyone, or just for yourself, your wealth, and your rights?  We have a problem that needs fixed.  Venturing further into the darkness that led to it won’t solve it.  We need to focus on living, and not just survival.

13 Responses to “Why Are You Here?”

  • Karl, N7DMA:

    Well said, Anthony!

    The rule I always try to follow is:

    “Worry about the things you have control of”. Following this rule, I’ve learned that everything seems to either work out, go away, or it just really doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

    Merry Christmas, and have a Happy and fulfilling New Year!


    Tucson, AZ

  • Matt W1MST:

    You covered guns, taxes, gay marriage, drugs, and doomsday preppers — all in the same post!

    The reality is that none of us will completely agree with each other all of the time, especially about these kinds of issues. Luckily we have a shared interest in radio to give us all a commonality that can hopefully pave the way for us all to respect — but not always agree with — one another’s different perspectives.

    My heart truly aches for the suffering families in Newtown. They’ll be in our prayers for a long, long time.

  • WW2E:

    Friendly advice: Stick to ham radio and don’t mix in gun control.

  • Bill K7BRR:

    You are wise for your age, Anthony. Life is a one way trip and we should live it that way.

    What you have written is so true. My contacts list has been shrinking as more and more friends are moving to that side.

    I guess there is truth about grumpy old people. They even make movies about them.

    73’s Happy Holidays.

  • Bob KK8ZZ:

    Well my friend, as a professional author of life myself, let me say that this is one of the very best thought-pieces I’ve ever read. Great insights, sir !

  • Larry W4KTJ:

    I find it interesting that the advocates of having a firearm in the house for self protection generally have never had to use one in that kind of situation. Most people in the United States these days have no military training and, if they do have, have never been in a position to use that training. The number of people who served in World War 2 and Vietnam are becoming fewer and fewer with each year. The ones who have served in Iraq and Afganistan mostly want nothing to do with killing another human again. It seems that those who are most vociferious about “home defense” would have no idea what it means to kill a man, woman or child. Most who would pull a gun to defend themselves would probably have the weapon taken away and used on themselves. Either that or they would shoot and kill someone who wasn’t a real threat, keep in mind the situations that have occurred in Florida in the last two years. The thought that guns do not kill is simply an excuse to justify ignorance.

  • withheld:

    I don’t remember all these mass killings happening before the Reagan administration came along and de-funded most of the mental health institutions and infrastructure in the country.

    I’m sure there’s more to the issue than that one thing, but doesn’t it seem like that might be a significant contributor?

  • Withheld:

    #1, all people have a right to protect themselves against those that may harm them or family. #2, I would think that everyone should let the courts do their job, before passing judgement on anyone in Florida. #3, There is evil in the World and it was there before guns were invented, and murder took place from the beginning of time. #4 , Reagan’s fault, you have got to be kidding !! #5, Intelligently you can blame this on a genenic anomoly in the conception and birth process, the shooter was not a normal healthy individual and should never have been streamlined into society. #6, Ignore things and it will all work out, right, you may want to ask post war Germany about Hitler. Now, lets talk Amatuer Radio…..

  • Stanley R Massey N5OET:

    As retired police officer I seen more mental health cases since the power above decided to save money is too close mental health hospital and kick them to the street. Now what it the best antenna for a 2 meter?

  • Larry VE8NX:

    A good home made Quagi is an excellent 2m antenna. But as in all things, the best is what gets the job at hand done with the least fuss and bother.

    I retire in 3 years and plan to avoid news, bar room arguments, sermons comments on the internet and other fuss and bother.

    yep, just live the Spanish pipe-dream (Google it)

  • m3ozp:

    Hi, all what amazes me is why do people need such weapons such as assualt weapons, and automatics. Can’t a normal .38 pistol suffice for personal protection? And why do some people need more than one gun? Sometimes I do feel that you reap what you sow. Until the Us sort out this once and for all there will be more needless young deaths in America. Yes I know the UK has also had its fair share of tradegies over the years involving guns, but we cannot just walk into a shop and buy a gun over the counter. I am not against people potecting themeselves, but with an assualt rifle? Come on that is just plain ridiculus.

  • W5QC William Stevenson:

    I am a ham operator and I have guns for hunting plinking and self defense as my right to do so, I don’t worry a out anything and have a good time and enjoy life. I don’t carry a gun to kill anyone and hope the need never arrives, but it is a tool. And yes guns do not kill it is the person behind the gun, those that do it in assault or in defense of themselves or loved ones.

  • Kyle N4NSS:

    John Prine lives in Gulfport, FL. Yep, just livin’ by the Spanish pipe-dream sounds just rite by me….Retiring 12/28/12…Hope to play radio, travel, and fish. 73 to all

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