Break for freedom – Day 14 (the One Shot Club)

Day 14 – Thursday, August 24, 2017 (The One Shot Club)

6:23 a.m. – 33 years ago today I was held-up and shot in the head. Like it or not, it’s been something of a banner over my life ever since. I remember Jim Brady, the White House press secretary for President Ronald Reagan who was shot in the head during a 1981 assassination attempt on the president, drawing my attention to the fact both of us lived with injuries that, by their very nature (We both lived with bullet fragments lodged in our brain.), would get us attention, and we should use the attention to help others understand the reality of brain injury, and the merciless reality of gun violence.

Jim left this life three years ago this month. He was a good, loving, and courageous man. There are people alive today because of the Brady Bill.

Jim is not the only person I’ve known who has survived being headshot. Or, as my late friend William would say, “The One Shot Club.” William was a member, so too were Kevin, Tyrone, Donald. We all really and truly loved and cared about each other. One day, William, me, Tyrone, and Donald were standing outside in a small circle talking. Suddenly a big smile burst onto Tyrone’s face. “Hey, we’re all standing?”

This observation was followed immediately by all of us of us putting our arms around the shoulders of man on either side of us. We were all smiling, no one said a word. The reality Tyrone’s question brought to the fore didn’t require words. Had any of us said a word in those next moments, the spiritual beauty of the experience would have vanished. In short, we loved each other, our respect for each other was bullet proof.

8:01 a.m. – Home after cool, crisp, enjoyable walk. The walks are becoming easier. Anxiety down a good 80 percent. This means I’ll soon change the route again, and add distance. When you’ve reduced your opponents’ punches to weak jabs, go to the next level, challenge its harder punches, and punch back.

Here’s to every member of the One Shot Club, I love each of you with all my heart.

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For Donald, Jim, Kevin, Tyrone, & William

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Break for freedom – Day 10 (The bullet)

Day 10 – Sunday, August 20, 2017 (The bullet)

7:51 a.m. – Back home from my walk. I looked up around 6:40-something this morning and said: “I want to go out.” In short order, out I went into the early morning cool.

I did not get as sweat-soaked today. I think (I don’t want to say this too loudly) I may be beginning to carve away power from fear. If you happen to bump into fear at a social event, please don’t let on. Fear is quite the control freak, any sign that someone is breaking free of its grasp makes it angry.

For whatever reason, perhaps because this is the month I got shot, I found myself thinking of the bullet lodged in the frontal lobe of my brain during the walk. The brain has no nerve endings, so I don’t feel it. If I were to identify one disappointment linked to its presence, it would be this; I don’t set off airport alarms. I had plans of approaching an airport metal detector and bowing my head forward so it would be the first to thing enter its realm. My thought was, the bullet will set the alarm off, the inspector will point at my head and ask, “So whattaya got in there?” and I’ll respond, “You’re never gonna believe this.” But, alas, these detectors don’t detect lead.

The bullet has been part of my being for most of my life now, 33 years the 24th of this month. It has done its damage, and no doubt plays a role in my life, to some degree. It has its limitations. Name one, you ask? Sure. It couldn’t stop me from taking my morning walk today.

KahrmannHeadXray2.jpg

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For James Scott “Jim” Brady aka Bear

Walking on eggs, patience, facing death & willpower

I’m a patient man but I fought too hard for my life to walk on eggs for anyone all the time (back to this in a minute). I was held up and shot in the head in 1984 and live with the bullet lodged in my brain. The bullet tore a path that extended more than half way through the frontal lobe.

Surviving that, as you might imagine, requires you fight like hell for your life.

Along with my brain injury, the shooting experience contributed to a formidable PTSD presence in my life. For me, PTSD means certain events, sounds, smells, situations, and so on, cause flashbacks and flooding. Flooding means a particular emotion or emotional condition has overwhelmed the person’s in-the-moment experience. Stopping it on a dime is impossible. In my case the emotional condition most likely to flood is terror.

Knowing I’m safe intellectually doesn’t stop the terror. It takes hours for the terror to subside.

Okay. The egg thing,  patience, and willpower. Some years ago my friend (and in my heart, my brother) Dane Arnold, said, “You’re too patient with people.” Trust me, he said that to me more than once and he was right almost every single time. I’d be allowing someone to take advantage of me in one way or another, giving them chance after chance, when I should’ve cut them loose.

I rented a room in my lower east side apartment and one of my tenants was horrible about paying rent, cleaning up after herself in any of the common rooms. She had a marked talent for the woe-is-me ballad. So, I let things drag on until I finally realized she’d mastered the ballad but never lived the experience. The switch, as they say, flipped, and the she was out.

There are times people think patience, or, as the more common saying goes, niceness, is a sign of weakness. I can think of no bigger myth. One of the gifts getting shot in the head gave me is the awareness that the following paragraph describes an experience that underscores the active presence of willpower

Here’s the experience:

I am lying on the ground bleeding to death. I’ve been shot in the head and the top of my head’s been blown off. I can’t feel anything below my neck.  I’m blind. It’s around five in the morning on a residential street, it is dark and no one is out. I am alone and I know it. A few moments later I realize I’m standing up. My vision is back and I’m connected to my body again but I have no memory of standing up. But the truth is, I did. And I was alone.

I may still be too patient with people at times. You see, I know a lot of people who’ve been pulverized by life so badly trusting those around them is a steep climb. An impossible climb for some, sad to say. But before I disengage, I’d like to know I I did all I could. Sometimes too much, perhaps.

Thing is, I’d rather be guilty of being too patient than not patient enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanity First: Yes to responsible gun control

Fanatics must refrain from engaging in a relationship with objective reality in order to hold onto their beliefs. That said, anyone who does not think changes in gun regulations are part of what must happen in order to address my country’s addiction to and obsession with violence is a fanatic, utterly delusional, breathtakingly gullible, or an out and out liar.

Since the Newtown shootings I’ve seen far too many look to protect what they think is their right to own any firearm under the sun first, and, as a result, place the safety of their fellow human beings second, if at all.

The gun show loophole is essentially this. There are about 5,000 gun shows a year in this country. In 33 states people can go in and buy weapons without background checks, a fact which everyone knows (except the aforementioned fanatics’n friends) provides a feeding trough for criminals to get weapons. You can’t say you are against closing this loophole and say you want to reduce violence in the same sentence and be telling the truth.

The facts are clear. There are something like 600 deaths every month in this country from guns, more than 30,000 a year. Every reputable study documents (documents!) that the more guns there are the more death and injury by guns there are.

Not long after the Newtown shootings some argued knives are more dangerous than guns. Wrong. But here’s what I’ll say. If people start committing mass murder by knife, then I’m all for talking about responsible knife control. But that is not what’s happening. People are choosing guns to kill.

And then, of course, there was this bit of asinine foolishness from, not surprisingly, fools. I can think of no better representative for this group than Glenn Beck who pounced on those calling the Bushmaster AR-15 an assault rifle (by definition it’s not).  The AR-15 is one of the weapons Adam Lanza used to kill the 20 children and six adults. beck said, “Make a promise to yourself that you will stop calling rifles ‘assault weapons.’” This sick twisted twit is getting all ants-in-the-pants because someone didn’t use precisely the right terms to describe the semi-automatic weapon that, according to Bushmaster is used by more than 100 police departments and the military in 50 nations? Like I said, guns before people in the minds of some, like Beck.

Universal background checks, a ban an assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, lower capacity magazines, will help save lives. President Obama and others have set the right tone.

Lastly (for now), it is utterly mind-blowing that the president had to lift a ban on federal research into gun violence. The ban itself is beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence that many are invested in maintaining the violence because it means more gun sales and for these creatures, it is profit before people.

As for those who think they need to stockpile weapons because some day the government is going to attack them, all I can say is this, move to another country, though God knows who would be willing to accept you.

NRA admits to country’s gun problem

By proposing a program of armed guards for the nation’s schools, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre today acknowledged there is a problem with the proliferation of guns in today’s society. After all, you can’t proclaim a need for armed guards in the nation’s schools and deny there’s a gun problem in the same breath.

In proposing the National School Shield Program, LaPierre, who would not take questions from the press, said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Not surprisingly, LaPierre did not address how easy it is for the “bad guys” to get guns. He uttered not a syllable about the country’s lax gun law’s nor did he say a word about the gun show loophole, itself a major resource for the “bad guys” when it comes to buying weaponry. There are an estimated  5,000 gun shows a year; in 33 states private gun owners can sell guns and buyers are not required to undergo federal background checks.

Now why, given that gun shows are an easy way for the “bad guys” to get guns, did LaPierre not say anything? Because, for the NRA leadership (and the gun manufacturers they worship), access to guns for anyone and everyone, “good guy” or “bad guy,” is more important than the safety of our citizens, including our most precious citizens, our children.

How LaPierre remained straight-faced when he said, “The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them,” while at the same time knowing the NRA is perhaps the leading perpetrator in blocking any reasonable effort to make it harder for the so-called evil people to get guns is beyond me.

Bill Moyer’s was right when he said, “The NRA is a killer instinct’s best friend.” Let’s not forget that the NRA opposed a bill that sought to block the sale of Teflon (cop-killing) piercing bullets to the general public.

There is no question a tapestry response is needed to address the underlying causes (violent video games and movies) for mass murders like the one in Newtown, Connecticut. But to do so without addressing the need for responsible gun control measures is like trying to address the challenge of lung cancer without addressing (or mentioning) smoking.

The NRA does not seem to care about facts, only posturing, and any excuse under the sun to add more guns to an already gun-drenched society.

If our leaders show a tenth of the courage the staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School did in protecting the children with their lives, then perhaps responsible gun control measures, like a real assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, and limiting the number of rounds a magazine can hold, to name three, might come to pass. If not, there will be many more Newtowns.