There are a handful of very important things in the news recently.
I was mulling over the top three — basketball, guns and money. It almost sounds like a theme for a country song.
Obviously, the Oklahoma City Thunder is near the top of the list. I have never been much of a professional basketball fan until now. My personal basketball experience was limited to rebounding and a few layups under the boards. I never developed the skills required for taking outside shots and the 3-pointers were nothing more than lucky shots we would use to win a game of “horse” on the neighborhood playground basketball court.
I congratulate the players, the team, the city and the state. It would be wonderful to see them go all the way during my first year living in Oklahoma. I might even bring them such good luck that they’ll ask me to stay.
Another topic in the news is the “new” proposed state gun law authorizing open carry of sidearms.
I’ve travelled a good bit around the country in 16 years in the media and a little bit around the world in 23 years in the Marine Corps. I feel the United States is special in this way. While we have tremendous freedoms, we also have awesome responsibilities and more than a little danger sometimes.
My view on guns is that we’re a unique people with the right to own them and carry them. That has been supported across both sides of the aisle in Congress. The main differences between the political parties seem to be how much control there needs to be on firearms.
I know this is Oklahoma — honest, hard-working and friendly with a wide-open sky. But there are many other states that also have open carry laws without much abuse of this right.I believe that if someone can legally own a firearm – not a convicted felon and is of sound mind — then they should be allowed to carry a firearm responsibly.
Is wearing a firearm on the hip responsible? What about a law-abiding rancher who carries a sidearm to protect self and livestock from snakes and coyotes. What if he or she wants to come to town for supplies? Who am I to tell him or her no?
Also, isn’t it this basic right we have as Americans that really keeps us free? No country or outside force could ever occupy or enslave our citizens because we, as a community, are armed.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you visit someplace like Bosnia or Kosovo, where people from one ethnic group rounded up people from another ethnic group at gunpoint. They put them on a bus, stopped at a nearby abandoned factory. They ordered the passengers off, lined them up and gunned them all down. Bulldozers were used to dig graves and push the bodies into pits.
I happen to have been there when NATO investigators were looking into the atrocities. There are lots of other stories, but it puts things in perspective. When I came home I kissed the ground and oiled my shotgun.
That brings me to the budget.
When I’m working on my finances, I must pay my bills. I don’t ask questions, I try not to go into debt too much. I just pay the man. It’s ironic that our government can’t act the same way when they are using our tax dollars. Sometimes I think they forget that it’s our money – yours and mine.
I believe there should be a balanced budget amendment at all levels of government. We have to pay our bills with our money. They should be able to make ends meet with our tax dollars.
So here it is May, and I’m watching members of this great state prepare for the next round of budget cuts for the new fiscal year beginning in July.
It’s almost like we’re sitting in a flotilla of small rowboats with no oars or motor. We’re just bobbing up and down a bit, kind of aimlessly and helplessly riding the soft swells, but still staying afloat for the moment.
The sky is dim — like twilight — but it’s really not too bad — yet. Then we see a storm brewing over the horizon — the beginning of more budget cuts — and we hope it’s not coming our way, but still deep in our hearts we know it is.
We’re going to try to keep these little boats afloat and try not to lose too many of our good crew in the process. One thing I know about life. Some things are just going to hurt.
I know I’ve been told “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and give unto God the things that are God’s,” but I’m still asked to put some of Caesar’s money in the collection plate each Sunday.
We all have some tough choices ahead. I only hope we can look at ourselves in the mirror when it’s over and still like what we see.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221 ext. 2072.