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How Calibers Get Popular and How to Pick the Best

How Calibers Get Popular and How to Pick the Best

There are hundreds of calibers to choose from when deciding on your next firearm, so how to choose? Like it or not, the most common, household names like 9mm are not the best performing rounds out there. Many factors determine how popular and widely available a caliber will be, including,

  • military use
  • good marketing
  • adoption by many firearm and ammo manufacturers
  • rave reviews from respected figures in the firearms community
  • performance

I put performance at the end of the list for a reason, it’s just not the main deciding factor.

 

The big three: when in doubt, use what the Army uses

Three of the most widely available rifle calibers have been US military standard issue, .30-06, .308, and .223. Yeah, they have some fancy metric names but these are actually the original designations. The first two are outstanding performers. The US military introduced the .30-06 in 1906 to make sure that it had the firepower to outgun rifles like the Mauser 1983 used by the Spanish in the Spanish-American War. The .308 was a failed attempt to adapt the .30-06 for select fire after WWII. It turned out to be an outstanding performer in long-range marksmanship and is still used in NATO sniper rifles. Both the .30-06 and the .308 are legendary rounds, two of the most popular in America and around the world. The next standard issue US military rifle round is more contentious, the .223. The UK wanted to bring NATO into the assault rifle age with the FN FAL chambered in the superior .280 British, but the US military doesn’t like being told what to do, so AR-15 in .223 it was. The rifle is a runaway success, but the round, designed to be light, fast, and easy to pack in bulk definitely has its detractors. It doesn’t really excel in anything.

 

It’s a similar story with the military’s move from the 45 ACP thumper to the 9mm. Both the .223 and the 9mm are considered by many to be pea-shooters and major missteps in military procurement. Nevertheless, thanks to Uncle Sam’s seal of approval, these are two of the most ubiquitous rounds on the civilian market today. One of the best handgun calibers is 10mm, which was developed to outgun both 45 ACP and 9mm in a semi-auto handgun. The FBI trialed it after the tragic 1986 Miami shootout, but weaker trainees found it hard to manage. Instead of giving them more training, the FBI developed the .40 S&W, which is still better than the 9mm.

 

Does standard issue mean best of the best?

As a civilian shooter, your priorities are probably not to have something that will outgun the Spanish, provide .30-06 performance in full-auto, be easy to pack in bulk into battle, or be easy on the weak. If you’ve ever built an AR-15, you know that mil-spec components are solid options, but for a bit more cash, you can get something much better. The same is true with calibers. There are of course rounds that have been designed from the ground up to meet civilian needs, but even in that category, the most popular options are not the best performers. Legendary options like .270 and .243 come to mind to out-perform the .308, depending on the specific scenario. If ‘go big or go home’ is your motto, to outgun .30-06, anything with a ‘Weatherby’ and ‘Magnum’ in the name will do the trick, especially if there’s also a ‘.300’ in it. The .300 Winchester Magnum is also hard to beat. 

 

It’s not hard to do better than .223

It’s disconcerting that the calibers for taking out fools are the same as those for taking out varmints. It’s not hard to find something that performs better than .223, check out .204 Ruger or 6.5 Creedmoor. For whatever reason, 6.5 appears to be a ballistic sweet spot. Rounds in this range usually offer long, thin bullets, giving you a great ‘ballistic coefficient,’ meaning they cut through the air efficiently, shooting straight and flat without getting bucked by the wind. Many argue that they hit well above their weight. Think 6.5x55mm Swedish, .260 Remington, 6.5 Grendel, or even its daughter case, .224 Valkyrie. Unlike the military rounds mentioned above, you’re not going to find these in every single little sporting goods shop. I know of no round with better ballistics than the .260. Remington failed to market it well when it was introduced and other manufacturers didn’t take it up, so it faded away everywhere but in long-range competition results. Legendary civilian rounds like .270 Winchester enjoyed solid marketing, brought adoption by manufacturers, and rave reviews by leading figures in the firearms community. It is a great performer, but, like .308, it’s not the best.

 

Availability is a major issue in picking the best caliber

As performance and popularity are not in perfect alignment, if you insist on going for the ultimate cartridge in a given category, you’re probably going to face availability issues. Sure, every so often there is a general, nationwide ammo shortage anyway. One way around this is to reload. Get a reloading press and other equipment, stock up on brass, invest in an annealer, and you’ll be pretty self-sufficient. If you cast your own bullets from old tire weights, all you need to worry about is powder and primers.

 

Check out our guide to reloading.

 

One way to avoid agonizing over which caliber is best is to just go 12 gauge. You sacrifice range for unrivaled versatility. Most deer are shot not far past the effective range of a slug, and a slug will drop anything you place a decent shot on. Buckshot is a great option for home defense, but again, the most popular, old military option, double-aught, isn’t as good as #1 buckshot, which will give your assailant more pellets and more lead to contend with.

 

The bottom line: it’s the shooter not the round

After all that nitpicking, here’s the bottom line. If you go with a well established, proven caliber in one of these categories,

  • Handgun
  • Rifle for varmints/defense
  • Rifle for mid-sized game
  • Rifle for large game

You can save the headache of obsessing over which caliber to choose. Training and practice will make vastly more difference in how effective your shooting is than caliber choice. Availability is an important factor to consider when choosing the ‘best caliber.’ So if a good deal on a gun in a proven caliber comes up, don’t fret, pull the trigger. Get yourself trained and put in some serious hours at the range and you’ll be outgunning the best of them. Have fun and shoot safe!

 

These Days

These Days

Sometime last week, I was in my usual (these days, anyway) 3:00AM position and state of mind: buried underneath my covers in darkness snuggling with my best friend, (these days) Kindle. My second best friend (these days) is vodka, but more on that, perhaps, another time. The Kindle was loaned to me by my friend, Lindsey, who knew that I, like many others, was stuck home in quarantine and trying to not lose my ever-loving mind. Reading helps. The Kindle she loaned me was already loaded with book titles – I mean, like hundreds – so, I was going to be good for awhile.

One of my favorite things to do is judge a book by its cover. I know, I know. I can’t help it. If the cover has boats, trees, or an animal on it, or is drenched in natural, preferably nautical colors, I’m in! I don’t even need to know the storyline. I’m in. Well, Kindle doesn’t offer that, so I’ve actually learned that I love reading a book by going in completely blind – no preconceived notions, no warnings. It turns out that one thing I’ve believed my whole life has turned out to be untrue: I don’t hate mysteries and thrillers. Who knew? Who also knew that through this process I would find out that Jessica Simpson is one of my favorite people on Earth? Stay with me, now. Actually, let me back up for a minute.

I’ve been out of work for almost three months. I work in one of those big box retail stores – one that’s been frequented heavily these days, and with my history of severe asthma, my doctor recommended a leave of absence to stay away from the general public for awhile. Not knowing how long “for awhile” is going to go on, I’ve been working on trying to get my small home business off the ground, and it’s been stressful. I never thought myself to be a super social person, but it turns out, I need people around me. I was born under the sign of Cancer, and I guess that profile fits me because while I like people, I want to keep them at an emotionally safe distance. This physically safe distance, though, has caused a little bit of a panic that started as just a slow simmer inside of me, but has become too close to the boiling point for comfort. So what that I can’t spend a spa day relaxing alone but with the company of nearby people? So what that we can’t go to a MLB game? So what that the bars and nightclubs are closed? Right? So, what? So, we have become more and more isolated from each other, which has only enhanced the ridiculous political climate that surrounds us right now. So, we need the distraction of entertainment. So, we need to have the common grounds that have been taken from us. That’s so what. I do digress, but I just wanted to make the point, that I, like millions of people around the world, am feeling a little low.

Back to Miss Simpson. I’ve never been a Jessica Simpson fan, but nor have I ever been a hater. I actually liked her in Dukes of Hazzard, and, back in the day, enjoyed an episode or two of Newlyweds. The girl is funny. But, never being into pop, I’m not familiar with her music. That night last week, as I attempted to disappear (literally, if only I could) into my Kindle library where her newly released memoir, Open Book waited patiently for me, I met Jessica. I’m going to have to fight the desire here to make this a raving review for the book. It honestly was exceptional, but I’m hoping to drive a different point home. I found a kinship with Jessica through the story of her life. There were many similarities to our upbringings. We were both firstborn daughters, born in July, with younger sisters born the same amount of years later. We both were raised Baptist, and still to this day carry those traditions in our hearts, but more importantly, we both are passionate in our love for the Lord. We’ve both found ourselves, throughout our lives, struggling to find our places in the world – in a world that is so temporary and fleeting and fickle. Like me, she is a writer. So much of her music was born from entries in journals she kept throughout her life. I used to be a journal keeper. I stopped ten years ago, for reasons that are only now obvious to me, but I had always found it helpful, therapeutic. As I watched her beautiful and painful story unfold, it was clear to me the impact her writing had on actually saving her life. I’ve been feeling like I’m drowning recently. No, actually, I take that back. I’ve been feeling like I’m sinking in the muck and mire at the bottom of the sea – beyond drowning. Jessica struck a chord in me. It was as if she was saying, directly to me, “Girl. Pick up that pen, and write it down.” So, I did. Whether it was the actual words I was writing, or the act alone of writing, or if it was something else altogether, I really don’t know, but something began to happen. It was tiny, but I could feel it. The following morning, I was texting with a friend who was concerned about me. He advised me to write these words you are reading right now. “It might help someone else who’s feeling the same way,” he said. “Do it for me.”  

I’m not feeling 100% better today, but I’d honestly say 45%! And that’s something, right? My feelings of purposelessness and despair are only nagging thoughts in the background now instead of being everything to me. What is the answer, then? I think it’s that we have to almost force ourselves to do those things that we know can help us dig out. Oftentimes, I know, we have lost the desire to even free ourselves, but I made myself write when I really didn’t feel like it. What is it, for you, that can help break you out of your prison? Have you seen the video of the speech, “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William McRaven? It’s a beautiful and eloquent commencement address that boils down to a simple task: Make your bed. It sounds like an oversimplification, but truly, things are so much more simple than we want to believe.

You should watch the video of his speech here:

 

The other thing I hope you take away from this is the importance of people. I’ve always been a loner, so it’s hard for me to accept my need for others, but we all have that need. Look at the line of people it took to get me just 45% better. Lindsey loaned me the Kindle, and has since told me to keep it as a gift! Thank you, Lindsey! That led me to Jessica’s book – thank you, Jessica! My Brother from another mother urged me to write this story – thank you, Kenn! This little story may have made even one of you feel a tad bit better today, and that thought alone makes my heart sing. And just like that, I’m at about 60% – thank you, Lord.

5 Actionable Steps For Reducing Racism In America

5 Actionable Steps For Reducing Racism In America

When tasked with that question, It’s easy to shut down, because the issue is simply too big and multifaceted. There is too much that needs to be done: from education to healthcare to law enforcement and incarceration… the list goes on and on. Plus, many solutions require money, time, or confidence – resources that may be lacking in people who sincerely want to help, but feel like there is nothing significant they can do.

I’ve identified 5 simple actions that every single American can implement today, that collectively will help move the needle forward:

 

  1. Get Vulnerable – it is human nature to hold prejudices. When you see someone approaching you, your brain automatically assesses the person and the situation to determine if you are in danger. We’re programmed to look for danger so we can avoid it, or in some cases prepare to confront it. It’s that concept of “fight-or-flight” we learned about when studying animals – but it applies to us too!

These biases we hold are shaped by our unique lives and experiences – and what I perceive as a threat may be different from what you perceive as a threat. We have to be willing and able to acknowledge that those biases exist inside of us, and then we must challenge why they exist? Is it because there is ACTUALLY a threat? Or is the threat a false perception? If it’s a false perception, then we can work on reframing that prejudice.
A few months ago I was working in a Starbucks. A group of kids walked in with their backpacks, they clearly walked over from a nearby school, and were loud and playful and having a good time while they hopped in line to order and started looking for tables to sit at. I moved my purse from the chair next to me, to the floor between my leg and the wall. Why? Not because I wanted to free-up a chair.
I had to recognize what I had just done, realize why I did it, then think about how I can reprogram the experience instead. I moved my purse to the window ledge – off the floor! And made sure to make eye contact with the kids and smile. I imagined my own kids at that age – and remembered hanging out with my own friends similarly. This is nothing to fear. I will reframe this – and other – prejudices when I recognize them.
Challenge yourself: I’ve found that talking about how I’m identifying and reframing my prejudices out loud with a trusted person face-to-face, or even on social media, is really helpful. It holds me accountable, and others show up to support the process, which is vulnerable and difficult.
  1. Educate Yourself – You can not expect anyone else to do the work for you, you must educate yourself. In this day and age where social media is the place where much of our news and education is consumed it’s important to be thorough in your research and to consider the sources for your information. Much of the information on social media tends to have a political agenda tied to it – and that’s a topic for a whole other conversation. But I do encourage you to consume content on both sides of the spectrum and to seek out peer-reviewed sources for information, as opposed to information that is influenced by opinion.

    The same way we got vulnerable to identify our internal biases, we have to extend that vulnerability to the content we are consuming so that we can be as confident as possible that we’re not spreading false or misleading information – including memes.
There is a lot that I’ve discovered that I didn’t know – I am ashamed to admit that I had never learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre until this year. That’s inexcusable. It further enforces that the education system failed me, but also that there is a lot of work I can do to educate myself, which will allow me to be a stronger advocate and also share that information with others.
Challenge yourself: get a small group together to learn together. Select a book or movie that will challenge what you know and watch it – then come together to discuss it openly and with vulnerability. Keep an open-mind, and be willing to learn and possibly change your opinion.
  1. Listen – If you know me personally, you know that this is an especially difficult point for me – because I love to talk! But, if you’re the only one talking – then you can’t possibly be learning.

It’s essential that we compassionately listen to the stories of others – without getting defensive or interjecting our own opinions. We must understand that we all see life through different lenses, which are shaped by our life experiences. Two people can be in the same room at the same time, but leave with different feelings and experiences. We have to be willing to believe what other people tell us about how they feel and what they experienced – even if it’s not consistent with our experiences, or the expectations we had for them.
Oftentimes when it comes to divisive issues (political or otherwise), we project an extremist opinion to those who are in opposition to our beliefs. For example, if you support Black Lives Matter, you hate police. Not always the case, right? And the flip side of that coin – if you support All Lives Matter, you are racist. Not always the case either, right?  But, these perceptions prohibit productive conversations.
We have to have tough conversations to get to the real issues. Maybe we’d discover that the BLM advocate fears police brutality and supports police reform and training… and the ALM advocate has family who are police and they fear for their safety. Once we’ve unpacked that a little, we can begin to continue the discussion, and discover areas where beliefs do in fact overlap. Then, we can open ourselves up to learn more, and evaluate biases we’ve been feeling about people who vote/advocate differently than we do.
Challenge yourself: Show up on social media calm and maturely. Before replying to a heated debate on social media take a deep breath (sometimes I even save the post and walk away for a few minutes) so that you can reply calmly and not with anger. Remove any cliches like “you’re part of the problem,” from your vocabulary and any other insults. Consider asking more questions in an attempt to understand why the person holds their beliefs, and be willing to admit when you’re wrong, “woops, I did get that one wrong – sorry about that!  I learned something new today!” This will be much more effective than a war of words – no one really LISTENS to those conversations.
  1. Stop Injustices – Before we can stop injustices from happening, we have to understand what injustices are. The spectrum ranges from overt racism to discrimination and all the way down to microaggressions like racist jokes or slurs that we’ve normalized. Part of the process of educating yourself will be to discover what qualifies as a microaggression and/or an injustice.

Stopping an injustice from happening means that you don’t laugh at the racist joke. You don’t ignore an offensive word/phrase/symbol when you see it. You can start by questioning it, “did you know that’s offensive?” – maybe they didn’t and you can use this as a teachable moment. Maybe they just don’t care – in which case you’ll need to evaluate the situation to determine how you’ll handle that relationship. Is there anyone you can report the incident to? Is this a person you want to remain friends with?
When the injustices are bigger, the ability to stop it from happening can be difficult – we all witnessed that with the murder of George Floyd. If it’s impossible to stop the injustice from happening, calling for help, bearing witness and/or recording the injustice can help to ensure justice is served after the fact. I wish there was a better answer than that. I really do.
Challenge yourself: Think about injustices you’ve witnessed in the past, and practice what you would say to stop that injustice if it happens again. Often what keeps us silent is our initial shock in what we’re witnessing, and the time it takes to process and then react to the situation. No one hates role playing more than I do – but it’s a good way to get yourself prepared to stop an injustice from happening. At the end of the day, if you drop the ball, don’t be too hard on yourself. Report the situation, ensure that the involved parties are okay, and learn from the experience.
  1. Vote with Intention – When it comes to voter turnout – there is always variation between states, years, and other demographics. Most notably, more people vote in years where there is a presidential election, and less in mid-term or local elections. This is where we need to do better.

There is no doubt that the role of the President is important and everyone should certainly cast their vote for a candidate who is anti-racist and aligns with other policies deemed important to the voter. There is not always a great choice presented to us, but we must weigh the options and the possible ramifications of each option and make the decision that we believe will be best for us, and for our country.
Your civic duty does not end there. Local and State elections are far more important. Local/State officials are the ones passing legislation that will directly impact your everyday life in your immediate community. And a lot of Federal legislation starts at the Local/State levels. Plus, since less people vote in State/Local elections, your vote can really push the needle towards your preferred candidate!
We’ve all been there, voting for Federal offices and when we get to State/Local offices we are not so certain and try to remember political campaigns, or just vote down party lines. We need to do better and vote intentionally in ALL elections to ensure that the policies that are important to us and to our community are supported by our elected officials at ALL levels.
Challenge yourself: First, ensure you’re registered to vote. Even if you were registered last year, check again (I’ve been mysteriously unregistered!). Ensure you check ASAP so that if needed, you register before the deadlines in your state.
Next, make a plan! Research when the next election day is in your district, what offices are on the ballot, and who is running. This may be overwhelming, but stick with me. Pull out your calendar and set some weekly goals. If you can dedicate yourself to 1-3 offices per week (or more if you’re planning well in advance, less if you’re a procrastinator), and do the work to research each of those candidates. Challenge yourself further by giving an honest open-minded look at the “other” party and don’t just vote down party lines.  By breaking the work into smaller chunks, it’ll be easier for you to feel confident in voting intentionally in the next Local/State election.
Once you’re comfortable with these five action items, there are certainly additional ways to help. You can make charitable donations to nonprofits who align with your cause, march in a protest, write letters to your elected officials, or even run for office yourself… but don’t get so hung up on taking BIG action, that you fail to take any action at all. Absolutely everyone has the ability to start with these five action items, and as more and more people step up and take these actions, we’ll see more and more change. It took us hundreds of years to get to where we are now, this will not be an overnight success – but if we all work together, we will shorten the timeline.

 

Meg Brunson is an advocate for racial equality. Over the past few years, she’s devoted herself to learning more about the Black community and race relations in America, so that she can ensure her family, friends, community, and country are making progress towards becoming actively anti-racist. Meg is NOT an expert on this topic, but she is committed to learning, and refuses to stop working towards becoming a stronger ally.
George Floyd, Police, and Coming Together

George Floyd, Police, and Coming Together

My friends, this has been an incredibly hard few months for our country. From lockdowns to police brutality to rioting in the streets… the outlook can be seen as very dark for our country right now. 

We are being separated by politicians, the mainstream media, and social media sites.

These institutions make their money and generate power by driving fences into the ground between Americans that wouldn’t normally want a fence there. The rhetoric is vehement and vile from “professional” commentators and impromptu social movement leaders. Black Lives indeed matter. They have always mattered. They will always matter.

Support for this movement comes from a good place, they want to address and end the discriminations that still very much exist in this country. But saying that all white people are racist no matter their circumstance or background is just wrong. It alienates and drives further wedges between people. Brother Malcolm X and MLK Jr. accepted the help and assistance from white people to drive their movements forward. They understood that an ally to their cause could come in the form of any skin color.

There is no monopoly on changing things for the better.

Demanding repentance from white people for actions of another will not bring the masses along with us. This is not a white vs. black problem though that can be a problem in individual instances. This is a bad cop vs. citizens’ problem. George Floyd was the victim of police brutality plain and simple. I don’t care what drugs were or weren’t in his system. I don’t care what his attitude towards the cops were. I don’t care about any previous encounters with law enforcement. We saw a murder plain and simple in that video. Breonna Taylor was the victim of police incompetence and a horrible no-knock raid that was poorly planned and executed. I could sit here and discuss the multitudes of police brutality instances targeting black people. But don’t forget about David Dorn, the black former police chief of St. Louis.

He was shot in the back of the head defending a friend’s business during the looting. He was a black man killed by another black man. Black Lives Matter don’t want to talk about him. They only want to talk about non-police black lives… and that is just wrong. You can’t pick and choose which black lives matter. ALL black lives matter. Every single damn one. A cop or a priest. An artist or a truck driver. ALL. BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. 

We can overcome this. Violence is not the answer.

Statistically, it has been proven that non-violent protests result in longer-lasting changes to the system. Defunding the police is not the answer either. That will only hurt poor and minority neighborhoods the most. Of course, there must be police reform and it must happen now. But most police see the problems very clearly. I’ve seen many videos of police officers and captains calling the George Floyd death what it was, murder.

Do you want to defund the good cops as well?

That is the definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and it will only hurt those most vulnerable. We have a long way to go and change won’t happen overnight. In fact, we may not see the fruits of our labor in our lifetimes. It may take decades or generations but small improvements are still improvements. Our ultra-connected world of phone cameras and CCTV is making it harder and harder to get away with the brutality we have seen now and in the past. Officers are charged. Maybe not as quickly as we want but they are charged. They may not get the sentences they deserve but they are sentenced. Good luck getting another job when the entire country saw you murder a man in the street or stood there and watch a man be murdered by a fellow police officer. Their lives are and should be ruined. But instead of violence and looting, paint a mural for Floyd.

Make a sculpture of Dorn. Start a community garden in Breonnas name to feed those who are hungry. Volunteer in the name of Filando Castillo at the food bank. These reminders and actions are our path forward. We are far from perfect but we are improving and we must acknowledge the progress, as well as how far we have to go.

 

What this country needs to move forward

What this country needs to move forward

Back on Track

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are fun forums to banter about many different topics from the inane to the profound. Sometimes it makes us laugh and sometimes we just want to cry. One recent topic that came across my feed asked “What does it take to get our country back on track.”

Education was my answer. This may seem pretty funny to those who know me by my posts alone. I often say that college is not necessary for financial success. Please don’t confuse college with education or knowledge. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla recently said “College are basically for fun and to prove you can do your chores, but they’re not for learning,”

The educational system is failing America. Baltimore spends more than $16,000 per student per year in 2016 graduating 70% with a reading proficiency of 11% and math proficiency of 12%. While that is just one horrific metric but the real tragedy is not being measured. 

One area education should address is difference among rights, needs, and wants. Reread that. Now don’t be dismissive of something so seemingly simple. These are important ideas that have started many wars that have and continue to shape our world. As simple as these are they can be hard to define.

In the Declaration of Independence it speaks to unalienable right among these are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These are examples of natural rights, often attributed to God, because it applies to people everywhere There are also civil and political rights. These include the right not to be discriminated against or the right to vote.

Needs are things you must have or you will die. That’s how many people see needs. Abraham Maslow broke down needs into different strata which we know as the Hierarchy of Needs. Each level provides the foundation for the next. Physiological needs like food and sleep come before Safety needs come before Belonging and Esteem needs. Most people recognize that the foundational physiological needs are universal needs. As you move higher on Maslow’s pyramid the “needs” are less needy in most people’s minds.

A want can be just as powerful a motivator as a right or need, maybe more so. Many times our wants are actually tied to our needs. I want a bacon cheeseburger because I need to feed myself. 

So how does knowing the differences between rights and wants get the United States back on track? Tracks lead some place and if we follow those tracks we will get to where we want. If you follow a want, thinking it is a right, then you will eventually find out you are not where you want to be. 

Free healthcare is considered a right by many people. A lot of time and money have been put forth into making this a reality in America. Is it really a right? We say that life is a right given by God and recognized in our founding documents. Here’s the false equivalence the healthcare equals life can be seen. We know for certain that nothing is truly free. Economist study the use of things that have alternative uses. Even the most abundant things end up being scarce meaning they are limited. You know what’s not free about free healthcare? Everything. Doctors don’t work for free. Construction companies don’t build hospitals for free. Government workers who oversee the industry don’t work for free. So that means government must take money, by force or threat of force to make this happen. This violates the pursuit of happiness and liberty of others. 

Rights are before needs are before wants. Before you act consider what is really the goal. Does your path to success infringe on other peoples rights? Does it fulfill a need? Maybe next time we can address lack of teaching involving critical or logical thought and the art of debate and salesmanship.

Laugh More Heal More

Laugh More Heal More

We’ve all heard the old adage that Laughter Is The Best Medicine, but how many of us take this natural prescription regularly?

Things haven’t seemed very funny lately.

Why’s everybody got to be so serious?

In today’s world, even professional comedians can’t laugh at themselves without being called out for being insensitive to someone’s feelings. ​We humans are taught to believe that we are all very different from one another, but there is scientific evidence that shows that collective human DNA is 99.9% identical. That’s not what you hear from the mail in ancestry kits, is it?

This fact is not meant to diminish or take away from our individual and family history. We are who we are based on our parents, and their parents, and so on. Some of us have straight hair and wish we had curls, just like some of us are tall and slim while wishing we were petite and curvy. Our skin may be pink and ruddy, or warm like cocoa. These are factors that are out of our control, but they are ours, and if you’re blessed with parents who loved each other, your traits are genetic gifts of love. If we look at ourselves and devalue what we see, based on what society tells us we should see, we will never be happy. Maybe if we begin to accept that we really all are quite similar, then just maybe we can start honoring not only ourselves, but also accepting each other.

In the southern neighborhood where I grew up, where everyone’s skin tone varied, we all played together anyway. Skin color was a non issue. What did matter though, was how good you could make mud pies, explore the woods, and ride a bike. Many lifetime friendships were formed in my community.

As someone who appreciates wise words of wisdom, my grandmother once said to me,

“You must learn about where someone comes from in order to understand how to walk with them.”

At the time, I didn’t fully comprehend the gravity of that statement, but recently I’ve come to realize what she meant.

What if we encourage each other to not only walk together physically, but proverably? How could that change us, and the world in which we live? Before we can fully grasp where we are in this country today, we must first take a hard look at the history of how we, the human race, have treated each other.

When people are taught only one way to do things, it’s not easy to adapt to a different way. It often takes time, and a different skill set to do things a new way. Most of us don’t want to do that. We like to do things the way we like to do things. Look how long it took us to get beyond the tea cupping grip in shooting. Heck, people are still teaching something that gives no support or stability to a shot. Those who don’t step outside of the tea cupping box will never know if their control or accuracy will improve. But if it did improve, that could open a whole new world.

In order for us to successfully work together as a team, there are certain elements that have to be in place, such as kindness, empathy, and mutual respect. Why is it that we can do this to make our salary paying jobs flow, but not when we step out of that arena?

Perhaps if we seriously look inward and examine what is stopping us from being able to step outside of our world, and what we hold closely, we could see the 30,000 foot view. Who knows, We just might find some like minded people on the outside of our tea cupping box to walk with.

Wouldn’t it be cool If we were the conduit to bringing some of the much needed healing that needs to happen in our broken world.

By bringing unity in the 2A community, We all are the sum of our parts.

Being a catalyst for positive change requires us to use our time, GOD given talents and energy to move forward. There’s a lot of people right now who are frightened, hurting, and worried about so much. We may be one of them, but I truly believe that the key to healing begins by listening with both our hearts and ears. It is then, that GOD’S grace will be revealed to us, and the message will be loud and clear. Be the positive change.

We need to return to One Nation Under God.

We need to return to One Nation Under God.

What do I think we need to get back on track as a country?

We need to return to One Nation Under God.

In God’s eyes, each soul is equal. How well do we demonstrate that in our daily interactions? 

Having worked as a journalist, I learned a few truths. Media sells more advertising when people are afraid. If it bleeds, it leads. Bad news travels farther and faster than good news. There are economic and personal benefits for twisting news to the negative. 

God is Love.

After reading most news stories, do you feel more love in your heart? Love brings us together.

Or do these stories make you fearful, angry, upset, worried? These emotions drive us apart. The problem here is this mind-state make us suspicious of others. When we don’t trust people, it’s easier for us to support regulations to control them.

Here’s a spiritual truth: If I take away your freedom, I lose mine, too. If you sow oppression and hate, you live it. You may feel like you’re on top today, but the wheel of life turns, and eventually it runs over you. Living from the viewpoint of suspicion and mistrust, nobody is ever a true friend; they’re just biding their time to do unto you as you did unto others: Lonely, fearful times for all.

Back to Love.

Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Why? Because God already loves us. We exist because God loves us. Giving back to God what has already been given us completes a circuit, if I may use that analogy.

Then Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” How can you know what that means if you don’t love God? Or if you don’t love yourself? Of course, we’re not talking about narcissism, which isn’t self-love but a need to fill an unfillable hole within. When we give love, God pours more love into us, filling us.

The love I talk about here is called Charity in the King James Bible, not the warm love we feel for our family. Feeling that way towards everybody could burn us out. Charity

“is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”

Kindness, contentment, humility are key attributes of one who gives charitable love to others.

Have you watched a person who is giving and caring, and think, “that’s a good person”? Be that person. That’s what makes your life, your family, your community, and America great. WE do that, not elected officials, not government agencies. Attain spiritual freedom for yourself, then work to help others win it, too. 

Let Us Sweep Our Own

Let Us Sweep Our Own

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

It’s easy to feel discouraged and upset right now.

From Covid-19 to all the various reactions to it, from lost jobs and failed businesses to sick and dying friends, from systemic injustice to bigotry and prejudice, from unfit law enforcement officers (and the people who hire, retain, and fail to train them) to riots and fires in the streets – it seems like the list of ways the world has gone wrong is truly endless. And it feels like it’s getting worse every day.

Did you see the meme going around about how the Yellowstone Caldera is scheduled to erupt in June, a zombie uprising will happen in July, and then underground crab-monsters that eat people would be emerging in August? No…? Well, what about the one with the woman peering out a window, trying to figure out which chapter of Revelation we’ll be doing today?

Funny as such memes might be, in a bitter-laughter sort of way, they do illustrate the underlying reality that people are frightened and unhappy right now. And while we might not all agree on exactly what has gone wrong or how to fix that specific thing, I think we can all agree that it’s a scary and unhappy time.

 

But maybe there’s some cause for hope, too.

 

When the world seems to have gone off its collective rocker, what can good people do? What can we do to get our country back on track?

 

We can choose to “sweep in front of our own doors,” that’s what. We can deal fairly with the people around us. We can choose to speak up about injustices that we see, and we can choose to listen compassionately to others. We can be determined to protect ourselves and the people we care about, and also willing to give a helping hand to people who need it.

 

Want some specific ideas? I can do that – but keep in mind that my worries, my resources, and my priorities might not be the same as your worries, resources, and priorities. That’s one of the reasons specific calls-for-action don’t always get as much traction as we’d like. God gives each of us such different visions because no one of us can possibly ever see everything that needs to be done.

 

For many years, my deep vision was to help vulnerable people learn to protect themselves from violent crime. That remainsvery close to my heart especially as I see the world becoming more unsettled every day. If that’s your call too, I want to challenge you on one important thing: build your own competency first! Don’t become one of the all-too-many well meaning people who endanger others on the range or in the dojo without even realizing it. Do the work to become competent, then turn around and teach others. And if you’re not yet ready to teach, perhaps while you’re learning more you can also help people you care about get their training from qualified others.

 

Maybe you’re concerned about food security. It’s tempting to sit and worry, but maybe it would be better to pick up a packet of seeds and plant a garden, or learn how to can and preserve food. Maybe you’ll even be able to help a neighbor get started with the same skills. Or you might end up at the food bank, helping keep it organized and ready to serve your community.

 

How does your social media feed look right now? Angry, obnoxious, hopeless? Mine did, too. One day, I got truly fed up with the negative energy the computer was feeding me every day, and I decided to do something about it. I did not go on a rampage and cull everyone who disagreed with me. That might have felt temporarily satisfying (at the expense of cutting me off from people I care about and whose viewpoints I need to hear). Instead I did something that turned out much more useful in the long run: I made a quiet little commitment to myself that I would post something positive – something true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, something excellent or worth praising – every time I felt even the slightest irritation with anyone else online.

 

By the way, here’s a lovely thing I came across online one day. My friend Terry Trahan wrote,

“If you disagree with me, don’t like what I post, see the world different than I do… Do not unfriend me. We need to keep talking and communicating. We are the ones that need to Do the Work. You need to learn how my side sees, and I need to learn from you.”

 

Isn’t that beautiful? We need more of that. We’re all so worried about giving the people around us a good talking-to, but I think what most people really need more than anything else is a good listening-to.

 

If it’s your passion to help others, there’s always somewhere to pitch in. Maybe it will be the humane society or a soup kitchen, at your church or a community garden, in a senior center or at a youth sports activity or self defense classes. Maybe you’ll just be there to help a friend clean up a mess. Almost certainly,you’ll find some idea I haven’t even thought of because the limits of my vision do not define the limits of the world. Start with what you see and go from there.

 

None of this will change the entire world by itself. But when each of us do the things we know to be right – when each of us pick up a broom and help clean up the mess, rather than crying and moaning for someone else to do the work – the world does become a better place. One person, one household, one neighborhood at a time.

 

Stay safe. Help the people you love stay safe. Reach out to people you care about and help take care of your neighbors.

 

We’ll get through this.
Read History

Read History

If I held the power to save one young protestor by getting them to listen to reason, what would I say?

Read history. 

The end.

I tried to think of a means to convince someone, but I am embarrassed to say I cannot think of a single way to reason with a rioter. We are not talking about protestors. I attended, as a protestor, events on the National Mall. Not one time did we threaten the police or the vacationers going about their business. No one got arrested, we left the area cleaner than we arrived, and the mainstream media lied about the protest and us. 

Now, we view riots, and the media lie, “mostly” peaceful, which means violent and criminal. In a non-violent demonstration, no one cleans up after you. No one gets detained, and no property or people are damaged or hurt. I encourage the right to peacefully assemble and petition our government and proud to do so when I thought our president and Congress jumped the rails and welcomed all to participate. 

Before the pandemic, when our Second Amendment rights came under scrutiny by the governor and legislature in Richmond, I did not attend the protest. There were no reported assaults, no vandalism, no arrests, and not too surprising, no counter-protest either. Why, because those who want to limit our rights resort to violence, and doing so against armed citizens did not make a healthy choice and only further demonstrated the purpose of the Second Amendment. I supported them.

Why should I try to persuade someone not to question our government publicly? Or request people not to gather and ask for redress of perceived grievances. I support doing such things despite differing opinions because public decent is their legal right. 

The USA is a nation of laws. At the beginning of this article, I suggested people read history. Assuming you understand the concepts of the founding of this country and how unique the idea was in comparison to all other countries and people, rioting would be shocking to you. Our United States created the concept of individual sovereignty. Each person represents a nation in themselves with rights no one could take away. Individuals free to form groups, develop boundaries, and local, state, federal governments. Entities that did not exist to rule the population but to serve the citizens by keeping order, resolving disputes, protecting the country from invasion. Our representative on the world stage. 

To stand against legal authority is a personal choice. You identify with an issue. You speak up, defend your opinion, and address those issues to the people who represent you in the seat of power. Compare ligament public assembly to the rioter. Anonymous because his or her acts are criminal, and they do not wish to be responsible for the theft, arson, assault, murder, or terroristic actions of their own or their fellow rioters. 

We often read about the oppressed. Gandhi led them, so did Martin Luther King. Who leads the crowd in Minnesota? Should you happen to be so naive as to believe what the news reports, no one, is the answer. The busses, bricks, water, and face masks were provided as well as out of town, out of state, paid agitators. Someone is leading. Who and to what purpose? 

Read history.

A subject no longer thought necessary in schools and relegated to unimportant. Why, because if you understand what happened in the past, what you are giving up.  What you represent is someone who can use your actions for their means, to strip you of your freedom.

Read history, Lenin coined the phrase, and Hitler plagiarized the idea of, “Useful idiots” getting the mob to take risks, commit the crimes, and run the riots from a safe distance and from behind the curtain, claiming the desire for justice, for the people. Mao thought using mass hordes an excellent concept also, and in less than a century between Germany, the USSR, and Red China, they murdered around 100,000,000 citizens after they gave away their rights to safeguard themselves from the mobs. (Read history, Hitler, Lenin, and Mao all turned on the useful gang of thugs.)

There is no case to persuade the criminal to be reasonable. Afterward is too late he or she committed the crime and cannot undo their deeds. As a citizen, I lack a compelling reason to convince the legal protestor using and acting within the laws our founders set up to protect society from the government. 

Read history.

The Declaration of Independence makes a bold statement and in doing so said the signers of the document were willing to take on the strongest military in the world to end injustice and obtain self-rule. “. . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. . .”

Peaceful protests failed to provide for equal treatment under the existing law, and the people chose to go to war for their rights. The leaders signed their work and delivered their resolution to the King of England and Parliament. Our founding fathers threatened with hanging did not hide in an anonymous crowd. Instead, they organized a military and prepared for armed conflict. 

Read history.

Understand what was at risk. In Boston, the city got seized by British forces; anything the military did was deemed legal to cause compliance with English rule and used no existing law to quell the illegal use of force. In a short time, historically speaking, four score and seven years after forming our government, half of the states took up the words of the Declaration and went to battle again. The costliest fight in our history and the Civil War ended the most egregious wrong, conceptionally counter to the Declaration’s statement,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Compare to a single rogue officer or four officers who abused their authority, under investigation, arrested, and sent to trial with the same protections from prosecution as anyone else accused of a heinous crime imaginable. 

What started in Minnesota as a righteous, indignation in the community, quickly and expertly escalated into riots influenced by outside forces herding “useful idiots.”

Myself, I find no way to reason with terrorists or a mob. I can encourage lawful protest, and enough education, legal protestors can deduce for themselves not to become a member of the mob. 

A quote by Teddy Roosevelt sums up the reality of much of what is wrong and how we are easily transformed into a pawn in politics without realizing it.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble,you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

Read history.

Make America Great Again, I Say Nay. Reform Yay.

Make America Great Again, I Say Nay. Reform Yay.

What do we need to get back on track as a country.

Well, I really had to think about that, especially being a 56-year-old Black man in this country.  Yes, the pandemic that we are now facing has paused the world as we knew it to be in 2019. Was is good for me, or people of color? Let us take a walk down memory lane to 2019.

The LA Times reported,

“About 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police, according to a new analysis of deaths involving law enforcement officers. That makes them 2.5 times more likely than white men and boys to die during an encounter with cops”.

I am not sure if that is the country I would like to get back to. Police use of force iscomparatively like a cancer, as it relates to cause of death of blacks in this country. That does not seem to be in our favor either! (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Lets look at the unemployment rate in the United States of America.

There are numerous reports on a national level that show the number of unemployed blacks is double the amount of those of whites. Do not think I would like to get back to thateither. It is so clear and blatant in this country that people of color are held back in every aspect of trying to live a good life. The life that many consider the American dream.

Look at television, big screen movies and Netflix which is probably the favorite these days.

There are so many actors and actresses in this world. Why is it then that in  many movies we are hard pressed to see one person of color in the movie? If we do, they are partnered with either a white guy and black girl or a black man with another black man.

Listen, Hollywood or the powers that be are not stupid.

They know we as human beings buy into what we see and most of the images they are putting in our young people’s minds are bad.  It is like they are reading the Bible and portraying the total opposite, knowing the outcome of their actions.

For me, no I do not consider THAT getting the country back on track.

 

Let us look at our country’s leadership. As a reality show star,Trump was funny because of how rude he was with thecontestants. I also will admit that as a businessman, either he or the people he has surrounded himself with have been able to pull him out of some tough situations to keep him wealthy.

As the President of the United States, he is not worthy of running the presidential kitchen!

His actions of blatant racism has lead and allowed the country, to openly display racism against people of color, to the point where white officers feel comfortable killing a black man in the open daylight. While many of these horrific actions are being witnessed and or recorded and they dare you to try to help, knowing that if you do your life is in jeopardy as well.

So if you ask me, what do we need to do to get back on track as a country?

I would ask, have we ever been on track for people of color? For the fifty-six years I have been on this earth I have been made to feel as if I am a second or even third class citizen. I have not had the same opportunities as my white counterparts. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, if you’re a professional athlete, an “A list” actor or even the President of the United States. If you are black, you have a mountain to climb that thus far we have not seen the top of.

Do I want to get back to where we were, on track, making America Great Again, I would have to say a resounding NO!

What we need is for God to soften some hearts to see the truth and be willing to rebuild with us at the table, at the meeting before the multi-culturial/ethnic meeting.

 

Dr. Lionel Green Sr., D.Min,

 

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