1. What do you think the U.S. policy should be on civilian owned assault rifles?
I don’t think there’s a single reason a civilian should own an assault rifle. As liberal as I am in most ways, I’ve changed my stance on gun ownership and, while I still don’t have one, I have no problem with people owning one for protection. I have a goal of shooting one at a gun range, because I think it’s necessary for me to do it.
Open carry laws are embarrassing and want nothing to do with a person carrying one like he’s going to save us all when things go down. That doesn’t happen. Those are not the rescuers.
I have no issue with hunters and sportsmen owning weapons because I eat meat, and I appreciate that someone else does the raising of it and killing it for me. I do think there’s a solution to every single problem that exists, I just may not like it. Someone definitely won’t. The fact that reasonable gun owners and sportsmen are not speaking out more is terrifying and part of what’s keeping us in this vicious cycle. The fact that more military personnel and law-enforcement aren’t pushing for a civilian assault-weapon ban is confusing to me. An untrained driver should not drive.
A person does not need an assault rifle to kill a deer. They want to assault a person. I know very few people who have actually watched another die by gunshot wound, and I doubt most radical gun enthusiasts could handle it, as loudly as they try to convince us they could.
So if we’re going to get literal with our Constitution and Our Rights and Freedom and wave the flag of the Second Amendment we’d be wise to remember Amendment IX of the actual Bill of Rights that reminds us the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
2. How do you define ego?
I define ego as Freud originally did, and that’s as a sense of self. If one is secure, their ego is in check, so to speak. They have balance, which is the key to peace, I believe. Egomaniacal people are exactly that—maniacal, and it leads to a completely distorted sense of self. The word “ego” alone has a negative connotation, but we all have a psyche, it’s just unique and either in sync or not.
3. What would a Clinton or Trump presidency mean for you?
I know a Clinton/Trump campaign is the first time in my adult life I’m ignoring presidential politics as much as possible. I’m waiting until I have to read and watch more. This race is an eerie parallel to how vastly different our country is: the first female candidate and an unchecked reality-star businessman. Our standards have lowered so far, and that’s not a candidate’s fault. It’s our feeding the machine, and I’m currently raging against it. I will participate, and I cannot vote against basic human rights, so I think that clarifies my ballot.
4. Have you ever thought about living in a foreign country? Where? Why?
Never seriously. I love the idea of visiting and have loved the countries I’ve been to, but I can’t recall wanting to move. I am unwilling to be that far from family.
5. What was your immediate thought after you learned of the mass shooting in Orlando?
Columbine. As I do every mass shooting. Then I wondered what “group” is next? No one is off limits, and no one is safe. I don’t know anyone in Orlando, so I had no one to check on directly, and I thanked The Universe for that. Then I avoided social media for a while, to avoid a second, psychological massacre.
6. What is the best book you've ever read? Why?
This is damn near impossible to answer. I could break it down by genres, or it could be different each week. But most often my answer is Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. I connected to both characters and loved that, since they’re so different. It’s about siblings and spirituality and family and mental illness and all written by JD SALINGER.
7. You can have dinner with any living person, who is it and why?
Dave Chappelle. I genuinely respect his intelligence as much as his humor. I think he’s courageous in ways people have no idea about, and it would be fantastic to get a glimpse of that. Not a character, but Dave fucking Chappelle. If Jon Stewart could meet up with us halfway through, it would be epic.
8. When you hear predictions about climate change, what do you think?
“How are people not understanding this?” is typically my reaction. Insert a variety of profanity, depending on the day. My fifth graders understand the difference between fact and opinion—it’s a skill they’re expected to understand and we teach it. At some point that gets lost.
9. Do you think America is as divided as the media says we are?
I think in some ways it’s worse, because it’s hard to find objective journalism, so what media says is often of little authentic consequence to me. I know where to look, and I do so, but that’s not what “media” is. A much wiser and more famous person than I once said we know ourselves chiefly by hearsay. So the more we hear about our divisions, the more we collectively beg for more direction and blindly follow it.
10. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the United States?
I do not think it’s a coincidence that “society” and “sociopath” share a root word. I think that, although a broad challenge, the greatest problem we have is a widespread absence of empathy. Maybe it’s because I feel things too much, too deeply, and too hard, but to not do so seems inhumane. Decent people do not say the things on computers being said in a civilized society.
To have someone sit with you in your pain—whatever that might be—is one of the most powerful things we can do for each other. To celebrate another person’s happiness—even when we’re missing it ourselves—is selfless and lifts us up long enough to make it through one more day. I know I do these things because these things were done for me. They still are.
It’s hard to fight a man you respect. It’s impossible to kill a person you can relate to. Comfort zones create a narcissistic view of the world, and not taking your self OUT of yourself is dangerous. Suicide isn’t funny when you’ve lost someone to it. The weather is not bipolar, people are. Rape is not a joke. Showing empathy isn’t being politically correct, it’s simply not being an ass.