I'm just saying . . .

I don’t know any details, and, as is the case in many mass shooting events, we may never know the motivation, but the shooting, the day before yesterday, at the Boise Town Square Mall certainly got my attention. Two people were killed and five injured in the gunfire. The suspect, whom police believe was the loon shooter later died from injuries received. A mall security officer was among those killed and a Boise Police officer was among the injured. Mass shootings are so common that they rarely make headlines outside of the local region after the first day. It is just one more event. I know the Boise Town Square Mall. I lived in Boise for ten years, including the years during which the Mall was built. I’ve shopped there. I know people who go there on a regular basis. Fortunately, I do not know any of those involved, but the shooting certainly got my attention. I don’t have a solution to these situations of terrible violence. I’m just saying that there ought to be a way to reduce the number of firearms in the hands of people who are known by police to be at risk of violence to themselves and others.

Regular readers of my journal know that I am a bit obsessed with ginger snaps. You’d think with such an obsession that it would have occurred to me to try putting crystallized ginger in my cookies. You don’t have to leave anything out of your favorite recipe. If you love ginger, as I do, just add crystalized ginger in addition to the ground ginger in the recipe. I’m no great baker. I’m just saying, I’m sorry I didn’t think of this years ago.

I know I have my quirks and collections. I have a collection of John Deere miniature tractors that have very little value to anyone except me. Such a collection is a real hassle to display. The tiny metal toys collect dust and are difficult to keep clean. However, I don’t have much money invested in that collection. On the other hand, collector Nick Fiorella just paid $1.47 million for a pair of Nike Air Ships shoes that Michael Jordan wore during his first season withe the Chicago Bulls. I’m no investment expert. I’m just saying that in a world with a million problems and thousands of nonprofit agencies working hard to solve problems, there might have been another way to invest that kind of money.

I’ll leave the investigation to others. I know that movie companies employ firearms specialists, called “armorers” to assist with realistic weapons for making movies. I know that prop guns have wounded and killed actors before. I know that audiences want realistic-looking weapons and that the muzzle flash of a real firearm is difficult to produce and that people will react to the sound of the blast in ways that are difficult to pretend. I’m not much of a fan of the movies. I don’t follow the lives of the actors. I’m just saying that with all of the technology and special effects in the making of movies, it seems that there might be a better way of entertaining ourselves than to have people point real weapons at other human beings and discharge them.

I am grateful that researchers have been careful and that they have taken the time to make sure that Covid-19 vaccinations for children are safe and effective. I understand that children are less likely than older persons to have serious illness from the virus. I also know that the necessary quarantines can disrupt an entire family for weeks and threaten income because of the caution required when someone experiences even mild symptoms. I’m not an expert in pediatric medicine. I’m just saying that I have missed having children at church and I am hopeful that now that children between the ages of five and 11 may soon be eligible for Covid vaccination.

When I was a college student, Beirut, Lebanon, had a university that maintained a relationship with our college. It was one of the places where students from our college experienced a junior year abroad. I had a classmate who returned from Beirut with inviting descriptions of a beautiful city, rich with history and culture and a thriving university community where students could learn and experience life together. That all ended when a 15-year civil war broke out and the city descended into perpetual violence in 1975. Ever since there have been additional outbreaks of sectarian violence that have destroyed many of the features and any sense of security that those living there might have known. I do not know how to end entrenched combat. I’m no expert in interrupting the cycle of vengeance. I’m just saying that nearly a half of a century of uninterrupted violence is too much for any city. There has to be a way to say “enough is enough” and to return peace, safety, and security to those who live in Beirut.

Like other cities in the United States, Bellingham, Washington has a significant number of homeless people. The area is experiencing an on-going housing shortage and there is a dramatic lack of affordable housing. A shortage of services for those experiencing mental illness and addiction is also a problem. There are a number of dedicated and thoughtful nonprofit agencies seeking to find solutions and to provide services to those who are homeless. There is a drop in day shelter for homeless youth in our church building. I’ve participated in food drives and in clothing drives to provide resources for those who cannot afford to purchase essential items. I’m no expert, but my own experience of the weather around here is that you have to have effective rain gear. It is more important than heavy winter parkas or other insulated clothing. The temperatures aren’t that severe. I’m not an expert. I’m just saying that maybe we ought to have drive for raincoats, pants and waterproof boots.

Most days I have a single topic for my journal. I collect other possible topics, but many don’t warrant a 1,000-word essay. After all these years of writing an essay every day there are still days when I wonder what to write about. I’m still no expert, but I’m just saying that sometimes I collect a bunch of short topics instead of having a central focus.

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