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Today, after receiving too many Facebook memes--from good people, mind you--about the lack of prayer in schools and Morgan Freeman's alleged views on media's culpability in mass murder (total urban legend in the making), I had to take a break from the Christmas cookie baking to post my own message to all friends. I had already shared portions of these thoughts with individuals, but I finally realized the time had come. I'd had it. Follow along, if you will, after the orangy-holiday-garlandy-thingy.

Dear Friends:
Each night lately I've been reading Confucious's I Ching and its analects (i.e., the little sayings that explain each with an example). Much of it says that "A good person does X." Some of these requirements involve compassion and avoidance of frustration and anger. I'm struggling with this since the events in Newtown. My patience has reached an end. I'm tired of the tired arguments. Anyone needing to unfriend me, either permanently or for awhile....I understand.

Here's where I stand. Here's what I know:

1. I know how to shoot. I learned thru an NRA class. I'm grateful for this.
2. I have many friends who shoot. I am not anti gun.
3. I am anti NRA. It has become purely a lobbying arm for gun manufacturers, with millions of dollars going to threaten legislators to "toe the line or we've got the power and $$ to get you voted out of office."
4. I want some politicians to stand up and say, "This is the pressure I'm under. These are the tactics. And you know what? I don't give a flying flip if I'm re-elected or not, because common sense and the greater good REQUIRE that changes be made to our gun laws. And it starts with me."
5. I was raised as a Christian. This is my heritage and I hold it dear, but these days I have more of a spiritual and Buddhist bent.
6. Prayer in the public schools goes against our constitution, which guarantees separation of church and state.
7. If you start talking about God and guns in the same breath, you have been co-opted, likely by the NRA. They're not stupid. They just know that "Guns, God, and Gays" are the three G's that can be used to whip people into a frenzy and plump up the organization's bank account.
8. We're finally making progress on the Gay front. Guns need to be next.
9. And if this scares you, you need to go live on an island (not Idaho; not Montana...I want you GONE) where you can worship at the altar of paranoids Timothy McVeigh and David Koresh and stockpile all the arms you think you need. Trust me, I'm not coming to visit. Have a ball. Especially without ferry service, Social Security, health care or any other government benefits that so many think are the devil.
10. NO ONE (well, very few, mostly on "our" fringe) WANTS TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY.
11. You need to be smart, people.
12. Most importantly, you need to question information. Look for facts, not hearsay. Always ask yourself, "Who benefits by my believing this?" "What is the source of this information?" "Is someone trying to play my emotions rather than my brain?" And as a former teacher, may I just say that if an Internet message ends with a frantic plea to "Forward this to everyone on your lists!" (especially if the request is in ALL CAPS), your BS radar should ping.

I love you all and wish you and yours the very best this holiday season and always.

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