Don’t Take Your Guns to Town

In 1958, Johnny Cash sang the iconic ballad, “Don’t Take Your Gun to Town ”

It  was the plea of a mother to her son, who, in his bravado, ignored her warning and dies at the hand of someone who was faster on the draw. The ballad ends with the last words of the dying boy…Don’t take your gun to town.”

That was was a theme that found its home in the ’50’s a scant decade after the horrible killing fields of the Second World War as both a warning and a prophecy.

“Don’t take your guns to town, son”

He took his gun to church and nine people died. Some have said that those in the church should have been armed and killed him first.

In a place of peace, in a sanctuary of hope, at an altar of light…..Don’t take your gun to church, son”

He took his gun to school and the innocent children died. Some said the teachers should be armed and so kill him first. “Don’t take your gun to school, son”

He took his gun to the campus and his fellow students died. Some thoughtmore armed guards should have killed him first. “Don’t take your gun to the campus, son”

And so the killing goes on, the guns more easily obtained and the cries of those who mourn, m

And those who lie dying, cry out, “don’t take your guns to town, son!”

Isn’t it about time the killing stopped? Isn’t it time we called forth leaders with the courage to stand against those who live by the gun and cry out: No More?

Isn’t it time to stop taking the guns to town?

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Waiting in Hope

In his 1891 painting, titled ,THE DOCTOR, Sir Samuel Luke Fildes depicts a physician, deep in thought and no doubt filled with worry, sitting by the bed of an obviously ill child. The bottle on the beside table probably contains only some medicinal hope just as the physician’s power to heal too was more of hope than of scientific knowledge. Still, there he sits, while the anxious family looks on, waiting.
As the year draws to an end and the season of holiday celebrations of all kinds erupt around us, we too are waiting. Equipped with science, technology of all sorts, the happenings of the world at our fingertips and with the power of incredible knowledge not even dreamed about in 1891, we too are sitting and waiting in hope.
We wait in hope that the pain and loneliness of a shelter, instead of a home, where children must look for but never touch the security and the comfort of someone who cares, will disappear into the carols, the crowds in the mall and the ringing of church bells
We wait, hoping that the collection of gifts for the poor and the Salvation Army’s kettle will be their hope as well.
We wait, with some vague idea that solutions for lifting children and families out of poverty and into life will come from the hope we have placed on those elected to serve us.
We wait in the hope that the institutions of faith, some of which even now are celebrating the birth of a child, will gather their strength and message around the bedsides of all humanity leading the parade of hope rather than treading the path of judgement and condemnation.
We wait, hoping that someone, some group, some humanitarian effort will bring light to the darkness of those who sit on the margins of life.
Deep inside, we too are an anxious family, standing by the bedside of the growing number of children in poverty who all too often are ill fed, marginally educated and chronically devoid of hope that ultimately erupts into anger and seethes with despair.
We long for the likes of Sir Samuel’s patient physician to produce a rare and miraculous cure for all the children whose lives are lived in the pain of neglect.
Until that happens however, we wait,
And we hope.

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Food for Thought

Thanksgiving, that great American feast day, will soon be upon us. Tables will be laden with more food than can be imagined, services beckoning the faithful will be held and many treasured moments with kith and kin will be stored for future reflections. Indeed, a very remarkable celebration for countless millions. But, however, not for all.

True, multiple numbers of food baskets, complete with all the trimmings of a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, are prepared for the poor; the homeless are welcomed to community tables and wayfaring strangers are bid welcome for a hearty meal.

Then comes the day after Thanksgiving. What then of the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the stranger no longer welcome? How are they to be fed? Housed? Invited into the circle of human warmth?

Food for Thought.

Would jobs that paid a living wage so people could eat and have a place to live be too difficult to comprehend for a nation that gives thanks around the table of plenty?

Would affordable and accessible health care for everyone be too much of a stretch for politicians to notice in their constant squabble over power?

Would quality preschool care and stimulating and healthy environments for our youngest citizens be too difficult an agenda to place on the table of thanksgiving?

Would it be too much to ask for a system of justice that treats all persons equally and fairly to still be a part of the American dream?

Perhaps, we who are fortunate to be able to gather with family and friends in the security of the places where we worship, or the comfort and warmth of our homes while we sit at a table laden with the feast of Thanksgiving, should pause to think of the days and weeks that stretch into years of need for those who desire a life defined by more than the gestures of an occasional feast day.

Food for thought?

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The Blue Ribbon Days of April

Finally, comes April!

Winter’s hold weakens and warmer days are like blue ribbons awarded to those who greet April’s gifts with eager anticipation.

But all “Blue Ribbon Days” are not reminders of nature’s new awakening, dreams of longed for vacations or the planting of spring gardens.
Each April, there is another kind of “Blue Ribbon Day.” Ribbons are tied to trees and other places to remember those who are victims of child abuse and to remind every one of the terrible price millions of our children are paying each year because of abuse and neglect.

In America, at least four children die each day from abuse. Over 4 million reports of abuse and neglect, involving 6 million children,are made each year. Victims of abuse grow up being abusers and murderers, perform poorly in school and occupy a disproportionate share of space in prisons.

And each year, in April,we tie blue ribbons to trees to remember them.

Is there not something we can do to stop this disgrace and this unbridled disease that is killing our children?

Prevention of abuse means addressing the causes. Prevention however becomes a very complex problem, given that there is no single cause, or even a grouping of causes of abuse. Perhaps then, a different approach is needed. It would seem feasible that a major campaign, marshaling community, state and national resources, along with public policy support, could be effective if focused on just one or two of the most common and recurring factors associated with abuse. Once identified, then a full-scale effort directed at those causes could have a much better chance of making a lasting impact, increasing prevention and providing opportunities for healing.

Granted, such an approach will take the dedication of elected officials, committed citizens and the judicious use of funds that will still not totally eradicate the dark cloud of abuse hovering over our children. Still, such a new look is justified if April is to become a true “Blue Ribbon Month” and not one that remembers the ever-increasing numbers of the deaths of our children.

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The Trail

Ahead
Beckoning, inviting, encouraging
Beneath a canopy of sheltering trees
Against the resistance of the mountain
To an incomparable vista
The trail climbs
And challenges muscle, heart and lungs
And gives back
Solitude, peace, perspective
I wonder
Five thousand years ago
Who traveled through these dense woods and climbed this mountain
In search of renewal and solitude and peace
And I wonder
Five thousand years from now
If mankinds’ love for violence and fear for safety
And fascination with guns of all kinds
Will permit descendants of mine
Who will never know who I am
To exist
And walk as I am gifted to do now
On a trail
To see the world beneath my feet
And be refreshed by a canopy of sheltering trees.

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Dr. Huff testifying on the positive effects of access to care for families and children as provided by The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

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Dr. Huff testifying today in front of a field hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee
on Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions
photo by David Huff Creative

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Wednesday’s Child

Telling a child’s fortune by the day of the week in which she or he was born is an old tradition, dating at least as far back as the mid 1500’s. In 1838, the rhyme that began “Monday’s child is fair of face” and based on that old tradition, was first recorded in the book Traditions of Devonshire. It has remained a popular nursery rhyme ever since.

The rhyme continues “Tuesday’s child is full of grace . . .”

And then comes Wednesday.

“Wednesdays child is full of woe.”

Judging by what took place in the United Sates Senate this past Wednesday, that prediction has a surreal and frightening quality to it. For indeed, there may befall ALL children the woeful consequences of the actions, or rather lack of actions, of a supposedly respected governing body. By failing to even consider a rational or thoughtful dialogue about how to reduce the danger to America’s children – nee, all Americans – brought about by the rampant ownership and deadly use of  assault weapons, and by failing to consider ways to guarantee that only those persons responsible enough to own guns, should have that right, the US Senate has forever made Wednesday a day of woe.

Why?

The vast majority of Americans believe there should be a lawful, effective and expanded means of checking any person’s credible reason to own a gun of any kind. Especially that should apply to weapons that can spew widespread death and destruction in mere seconds of time. Certainly the bereaved and grief stricken folks in Newton, CT and Aurora CO believe it. And surely those left behind in countless households across our country where vacant places  and snuffed out dreams are permanent testimonies to an ache that will never disappear, believe it.  Every one of us who wake each morning, desiring nothing more than the opportunity to go about our constitutionally given rights to a free, safe and happy day, believe it.

So why don’t those we send to the hallowed halls of legislation believe it? What retribution do they fear when they pull away from their duty to protect those they are sworn to defend? Are they so enamored with their own power, beguiled by their own stature, owned by their own greed that they are deluded into thinking that “my way or the highway” is the standard by which they are entitled to serve?

Are they so beholden to the likes of the NRA and other ideologically driven forces who use the Constitution as a weapon rather than as a life giving document that opens doors to freedom, justice and equality for all that they have lost their own claim to those same opportunities?

Whatever their reasons, they have failed Wednesday’s child and everyone else who cares for the life that child should inherit.  That is not the end. Fortunately, the week goes beyond  Wednesday and the children’s rhyme promises better days ahead. True, “Thursday’s child has far to go” but the hope that builds as the week moves to conclusion and where these timeless words lead us . . .

“But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay”

will indeed be the sustaining force that leads, eventually, to a safer, more tolerant time and to leaders who hear the voice of the people they have pledged to serve and all children will have a chance to be like Friday’s child, “loving and giving.”

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