Dream no small
for they have
no power to move the hearts of men.
Wolfgang von Goethe,
dramatist, novelist, theorist, humanist, scientist, and painter,
1749 - 1832
1. Guns or Roses
From History to Hysteria, Part 1
Some Fun Facts
The Flashback Quarterback on Money for College and Communities
E-News and “My Montebello”
Guns or Roses
might remember photographs out of the Sixties in which demonstrators placed
flowers in the barrels of guns held by soldiers or policemen.
I, like most
readers, have viewed from afar the battle over the right to bear, and the
responsibility of bearing, arms.
It is abhorrent
to civilization that there be a proliferation of lethal weapons. The bitter
pill which we might have to swallow—the fact to which we might have to
admit—is that we are not as civilized as we imagine. But does this
necessitate a gun culture?
Those who want
guns controlled have enough trust in the rule of law that they do not see
government becoming tyrannical or their neighbors becoming criminal, such
that the public need not have guns to protect itself from government and
neighbors. Those who want unfettered possession of guns mistrust government
and neighbors. Who is right?
Each side will
cite statistics. Statistics are
somewhat useful, but cannot be
decisive, because, if we accept the assertion of the essay “How Little We
Know”, we cannot have all the facts and, therefore, cannot make decisions
with certainty. If we look to this week’s essay, “From History to
Hysteria”, we cannot rely on interpretations of history to incontrovertibly
support or sully one position or the other. (One does not have to go far
for proof. Just listen to liberals in the role of
and conservatives in the role of
when interpreting the U.S. constitution’s
Now, let us mix
in the position advocated by the essay “Walks outside the Box”, namely, that
we think outside the box to come up with
solutions. What might such a solution be as that would relate to the
ownership of guns?
societies co-existing, governed not by Federal or state statutes, but,
rather, by local ordinances. In other words, a
community would be formed where everyone
held the same or similar views on guns. This means that everyone in
Montebello would agree that a resident would have the right to bear a
concealed gun, while everyone in Monterey Park would agree that no resident
would have the right to any gun. Expectations about what to do and what not
to do would be consistent within the homogenous community. Outsiders would
have to be alert to differences when they crossed city limits.
things would not be this simple, as the law of unintended consequences would
rear its testa brutta
(ugly head) unless there were extensive
thinking outside the box. For example, if Monterey Park became a “gun free”
community, would not criminals find the city to be prey for the picking and
solution was explored in “Walks outside the Box, Part 2”, April. 26, 2007,
namely, portable, nonlethal tools for self-defense. This would be
consistent with the American proclivity for inventions. But the law of
unintended consequences would ask, “How would the invention be misused?”, as
misuse, too, is part of American culture.
If you answer the multiple-choice questions
below and e-mail to
email@example.com with “Lesson answers” in the subject
field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in
community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization.
1. In coming down in favor or against the
right to bear arms, we
(a) must realize that our knowledge would be
insufficient to knowledgeably decide.
(b) must accept the opposing view of others
as appropriate for those others, because we could not fully understand their
2. We can solve this conundrum if we
(a) think outside the box.
(b) acquiesce to the reality that no solution
will be perfect, but that the more thought we give to a solution, the fewer
unintended consequences we are likely to have.
From History to Hysteria,
(1) Skepticism, like chastity, should not be
relinquished too readily.
(2) Those who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it.
Spanish-born philosopher, essayist, poet, and
novelist, 1863 – 1952
We recognize George Santayana, if at all,
from his second quotation. What we do not recognize is the possible
contradiction—more than a paradox—between his first and second quotations.
question. On one level it seems as if the first and second quotations were
in harmony. It is good, in fact, prudent, to be skeptical of what others
tell us, because
schools give us a survey
of history; that means that we get only a glimpse, and it is
dangerous to make a judgment based on a glimpse;
history is not made relevant to
us when we study it, so we are apt to forget much, if not most, of it;
history, as we learn it, is an
interpretation, a faith, as somebody chooses the events, reasons for
events, and personalities about which and whom we learn.
somebody calls us to action of great consequence, we should hesitate to act
until we evaluated that planned action in the light of history. (This is
consistent with the point in the essay “The Eleventh Commandment, Part 1”,
January 11, 2007, “the greater the consequence of our judgment or more
irreversible our action, the more time we must take and more reluctant we
must be to decide or do anything without the confirmation.”) It would be
great coffee conversation to muse upon the history which we have and have
not learned in school.
There is an
eye-opening example, taken from the book Power, Faith and Fantasy, a
history about America’s involvement, since
1776, in the Middle East:
…Seward’s voyage set a precedent for other
Civil War-era personages to make semiofficial visits to the Middle East.
The most acute and observant of these was George B. McClellan, the onetime
commander of the Army [replaced by President Lincoln during the Civil War]…
Most Muslims, he ventured, had “little but life to lose in this world, and
much to gain in the other by entering it from a conflict with the
unbeliever.” …Westerners would never understand Middle Eastern peoples “so
long as we… judge them by the rules we are accustomed to apply to ourselves…
[and] weigh their actions by their own rules.” McClelland nevertheless
believed that change could be effected gradually in the region, through
education and widening exposure to the West. …
The words of McClellan—which I have not
confirmed—leaped out at me. While McClellan’s advice of one hundred
thirty years ago applies today to only a relatively small number of
people, the advice is still valid and has yet to be followed: we do not
sufficiently understand the people of the Middle East. We are paying a
heavy price now for that failure of understanding.
So, with regard to
decision of consequence which we make, being skeptical of what
government tells us is good for our health. Literally. It seems as if
Santayana’s second quotation would follow logically from the first.
But the greater cause for discomfiture lies
not in the harmony of Santayana’s two quotations, but, rather, in their
contradiction, to be explored in the next part.
Meeting. The next regular meeting
of the Montebello city council will be at city hall on Wednesday, June 13,
2007, at 7:30 p.m. If you wish to speak during orals, come before 7:30 p.m. and sign up. If you have more to say than there is time allotted,
prepare a one pager, make copies, and hand out before you speak.
Protect yourself. “Bookmark” this
http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ . This is a government Web site which
provides much useful information for the public. For example, you can get a
free newsletter about scams and fraud and read helpful statistics at the Web
During 2006, consumers filed 207,492
complaints [regarding the Internet]. Complainants said they lost $198.4
million, the highest total ever. …
But the report shows that the “average”
complainant was a man between 30 and 40 living in California, Texas,
Florida, or New York. Individuals who reported losing money lost an average
of $724; the highest losses involved Nigerian letter fraud, with a median
loss of $5,100. Nearly 74 percent of the complaints said they were
contacted through e-mail, and 36 percent complained of fraud through
websites, highlighting the anonymous nature of the web….
Even with this Web site
helping us, we must look to ourselves for protection. Self-help was
advocated in a different context, in “Walks outside the Box, Part 2”, April
FOR ELECTED OFFICIAL,
AND COMMUNITY LEADERS. Grants available.
Competitive-funding announcement from OJJDP
National Juvenile Justice Program. In short, the funding is for programs
which have a national scope and national impact on combating juvenile
delinquency, reduce victimization of children, improve the juvenile justice
system and support OJJDP mission to provide national leadership. Grants to
be made from a $20,000,000 corpus. For more information:
Some Fun Facts
The typical laboratory
mouse runs two and one-half miles per night on its treadmill.
A rat can last longer
without water than a camel.
The Siberian Tiger is
the largest cat in the world. It weighs up to 300 kg (660 lbs.) and can eat
27.2 kg (60 lbs.) of meat at one mealtime.
Bats always turn left
when exiting a cave.
The Flashback Quarterback on
Money for College and Communities
advertisements for election campaigns are the stuff of propaganda. They do
not educate, but, rather, obfuscate. Lies repeated lead to a
In an interview on “The
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” in May, 2007, former Vice President Al Gore said
that 80% of election-campaign budgets in 2006 were allocated to
Cause for concern? Yes,
if you do not like to make weighty decisions based on inaccurate or
“How Little We Know,
Part 2”, April 6, 2007, suggested that the public take charge of election
campaigns and, thereby, put a stop to the propaganda barrage. If the public
took charge, an appreciable portion of the billions now going from election
campaigns to television companies could be redirected for college
scholarships and community improvement. Say who? Say you and I.
E-News and “My Montebello”
To learn about this
newsletter, Montebello E-News, and the accompanying, growing Web
site, “My Montebello”, visit www.mymontebello.com. Also, you will find
instructions and contact information for submitting announcements for
publication in this newsletter.