Extending grace in moments of conflict

I sense that a lot of people on both sides of the aisle are reaching out to one another after this election, and we need to do everything we can to facilitate that effort. I’ve been reading a book by Buck Brannaman, “The Faraway Horses,” and I think he wrote some really good words along the lines of reaching out to people whom we may think do not deserve the effort.

“Many times people have told me that what they’ve learned from me about understanding their horses has helped them begin to understand themselves a little bit better and then allowed them to make changes that improved their lives far better than they could have ever imagined.

One such person was a chariot racer who lived near Big Horn, Wyoming. Chariot racing is a winter sport, and it has a following in some parts of the West. It’s a lot like what Charlton Heston did in the movie Ben Hur, except the chariots aren’t usually quite as fancy and the horses that pull them tend to be about half broke. Some of the horses have never even been taught to drive. The racers harness them up, beat them over the rump, and away they go over frozen ground or through snowfields. Continue reading “Extending grace in moments of conflict”

Terrorists will always have access to firearms

I haven’t written anything really opinionated in a couple of years, but I am rather taxed by irrational, emotionally driven rhetoric out there in response to the Orlando shooting, that “we need to take all the guns away.” I let this cook for few days, but finally decided to put this out there.[1]

We go with what we know, and let me speak from experience. I love Brazil, and I love Brazilians. I could have retired in the USA close to my family but I chose to continue living and working in Brazil. Nevertheless, I live everyday with the constant awareness of the violence. Now, I want to be careful to not appear to be bashing Brazilians. The problem with Brazil isn’t the average Brazilian. Brazilians are, as a people, warm, loving and generous. I’ve never met anyone as quick to do whatever they can to help another person, and if they thought you really needed it, they would give you the shirt off their back or their flipflops in a heartbeat. If I meet a Brazilian who is eating an APPLE, they will offer me a bite! Seriously!

But ask the Brazilians about whether they feel safe, and who has made it so that they are not safe. The past two weeks I’ve been speaking at conferences in rural Brazil–not in Rio–and I heard repeatedly that the people in rural Brazil live in constant fear of being molested, robbed and murdered, and decry the fact that they have no way to protect themselves, because the government took their guns away.

So, let’s go with the facts about ALL murders (not just gun deaths–I couldn’t find those statistics for Brazil), as published by the UN for Brazil and by the FBI for the USA:
Murder rate in Brazil: 32.4 per 100,000
Murder rate in the USA: 4.5 per 100,000
Murder rate among crazy Nebraskans, with open carry permits on demand: 2.9 per 100,000.

Brazil has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, and yet the murder rate is 700 percent higher than in the USA as a whole, and 1,100 percent higher than Nebraska. And yet someone wants to tell me we should implement a policy which has been aggressively imposed on Brazilians, with such horrific results? Really???

Continue reading “Terrorists will always have access to firearms”