Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Happy the day that we are born—we are the Center of the Universe!

We know there is a me and we realize there are others—we think of them as them. Some of those others, though, we soon discover, are worthy of accepting into our world, like my mom, my dad, my doggie.

As we grow up, our world widens. We happily include friends, neighbors and colleagues into our universe.

And the world of them keeps shrinking, until quite without fanfare the day arrives when we realize that we are all fellow travelers of Planet Earth on our journey through life—with similar hopes, similar fears and similar dreams.

For some people this path is troubled, tedious and tough. They cling tenaciously to the all-important me and build a wall against those they do not like, or those who appear more powerful, or those who are suspect of thinking differently from them.

Yet one day they too will see the light. They have to struggle a little longer to find their way back to the Center of the Universe where Life takes on a larger meaning than the me and them. Life becomes a precious gift and a privileged opportunity to share life’s path with others.

Until next time,


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Price of Guns

“I do miss Judy,” Eric Sahlin murmured; over the years he had taking many exquisite photos of her.

“I miss her too,” I thought, even though I had never met her. But I had read the heart-felt memorials her friends had written, so Judy took on life in my imagination.

When she was young, her family had to flee from Communist Hungary. They moved to Canada and Amsterdam. In Spain she became an expert in Flamenco dancing, in Israel she attended the Hebrew University and became fluent in her fifth language. But her greatest passion was music and opera. “She composed beautiful pieces and played them on her piano,” one of her friends wrote in her memories.

When she lost her computer job, she began training dogs. She had a wonderful way with them—though she was delicate and soft-spoken, they respected and obeyed her. Her life was starting to come together again.

Then it suddenly ended. She became Oakland’s homicide victim #56.


It happened barely a week after 8-year-old Alaysha had been shot dead in Oakland, while her 7-year-old friend and little brother and their grandmother were wounded and made three of the two million gun-related emergency visits.

It was 1:00 in the afternoon. Judy had trained a dog and was driving home. On her way, two youths blocked the road. They exchanged words, when one of the youths grabbed a garbage can and bashed in her window. Judy took her cell phone and snapped a few shots of them and drove on.  But she didn’t get far; they shot her dead at close range and jumped into a car to speed off. Judy’s car kept rolling until it hit a parked car. Moments later, the boys came back to collect her cell phone with their photos.

Why did they shoot her?

We’ll never know. The witnesses declined to talk. It’s an ironclad rule in the City of Oakland—you don’t squeal or betray one another. If you do, you jeopardize your life and that of family and friends.

Could it be that we have too many guns in the streets, or too little gun control, or inadequate punishment? Several European countries have realized that the primary purpose of a handgun is to kill, consequently, they do not allow anyone to own one, not even the police.

Guns did have their useful place once when we had to hunt for our food and protect ourselves against the wild. But those days are long gone; technology and big business look out well for our needs. It’s our human instincts and habits that adapt more slowly—remnants of our old passion to hunt, shoot and kill—so we shoot animals now as a sport. When we shoot other human beings we call it military sanction or intervention.

In America, 11,078 persons were shot during last year—31 human beings every single day. In Japan, the total for the whole year and the whole country was eleven. According to the Digital Journal of 12/16/2012, “it is easier to purchase a gun in the United States than in any other industrialized nation, which could explain the United States’ high numbers of gun homicides.” When it comes to most European nations, their gun-caused homicides are much fewer than those of the City of Oakland.

Do we really value guns higher than a person’s life? I doubt it. Maybe those millions of dollars spent by our legalized pressure groups that promote guns warp the picture. Life, no doubt, is a precious, fleeting gift, more precious than any gun.

“Judy, we miss you.”

Until next time,