The Brad OH Inc. Super-Challenge!

Today, I’m being lazy. Don’t judge me. Lazy, and, I suppose, there’s a lingering sense of deja-vu. I find myself wondering what to say, in a time when it’s all been said, and nothing has changed.

So instead, I leave it to my intrepid readers to do the math, connect the dots…all that jazz.

Below, I’ve re-shared two former articles. It is up to you, the reader, to find what dreadfully ubiquitous themes might tie them together.

The Polarizing Debate Around Gun Control

Nobody wants to get shot. That, at the least, is something I believe we can all agree on. Wanting other people to get shot might be a different story, but let’s take what we can get.

There is virtually no one out there eager to catch a bullet when walking down the street—or to see their loved ones do so.

If we can agree on something as simple as that, one might assume we could find some basic consensus on how to handle guns in contemporary society.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, we here at Brad OH Inc. are an ambitious and defiantly tenacious lot, and today, that’s just what we intend to do. So sit down, strap in, and fasten up your bullet proof vests, because today, we are getting to the heart of the debate over gun control!

The most basic breakdown of opinions here are the classic and time-tested notions of right, and left. The conservatives argue in favour of free access to guns—usually on account of the good ole’ second amendment. The liberals, meanwhile, tend to go the other way—as they so often do—pushing for tighter gun control. This, presumably, goes back to the notion of not wanting to get shot.

But beyond this, things begin to get a little bit murky. I believe however, that if we truly break this whole debacle down to its very essence, we might best steal a line from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (Source) in saying that ‘what we’ve got here is, failure to communicate’.

I want to introduce a new theme here, because I think it affords us a very important tool with which to explore this debate. I want to talk about the concept of ‘Polarity Management’.

‘Polarity Management’ (Source) describes a process by which we can more effectively analyze all sides of a debate—ideally finding a bit of common ground. In essence, ‘Polarity Management’ is a means of viewing typically entrenched positions which usually go nowhere—such as this one. ‘Polarities’ refer to the opposite ends of a single, connected issue. The key here is that one affects the other directly—it is not simply one problem to solve, but an imperative interaction that must be understood. Polarities are related, and persist over time—thus they must be managed, not solved.

The problem is that we tend to treat these as ‘either/ or’ scenarios—closing off debate, and freezing out both understanding and context. But dynamic issues such as these seldom reflect one single value or quality—no simple right or wrong. They are the result of multiple, interrelated factors.

An easy example of this is rain and sunshine. You may prefer either one, but without the other, your preference becomes a dreadful imposition. Too much sun leads to droughts, and too much rain leads to flooding. You need a balance, and that is why in any issue regarding polarities, we need communication, and then compromise.

Once we’ve identified an issue as a polarity, we can proceed to explore the balance between each side—the positives brought by each end, and the negatives they bring as well. This allows us to better understand how the opposing views of the issue interact with one another, and ideally find the crucial balance necessary to manage them.

I admit already—taking this approach to gun control with any shred of optimism is a tall order, but what the hell…let’s give it a go. To strip it all down to parts, the debate around the issue of gun control essentially amounts to two wildly opposing views:

1) The right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and must not be infringed in any way.

2) Gun ownership presents a significant risk to the public good, and should be curtailed, if not eliminated.

Now certainly, there are few who would fully align themselves with either extreme viewpoint, yet those are the sides as purported, so let’s consider them in turn.

Much of the argument from the (typically) Conservative crowd favoring access to firearms makes an appeal to safety—believing that arming ourselves for self-defence is an inalienable right, and that we must have the ability to purchase and carry guns in order to protects ourselves from others which might do so surreptitiously. This certainly makes some sense. After all, there is plenty of merit to the old adage against bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Of course, the better solution is to avoid entering a gun fight, or being anywhere in its vicinity. This isn’t always easy, and may even be a tad unrealistic depending on where you happen to be located. Further, the argument is often made that ‘if we make guns illegal, then only criminals will have guns’. This is a self-serving tautology to be sure, but it does a fair job of illustrating the impotent terror which might come from being left defenseless in a world full of armed lunatics.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find the (typically) Liberal crowd, who heavily favor significant controls on gun ownership, including but not limited to restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods.

This side argues that due to the potential of guns to inflict serious injury and death, access to them must be well regulated in order to avoid such weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them either unjustly, or in ignorance.

Much of the force from the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ side tends to focus on an appeal to the second amendment (Link), which guarantees to citizens that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The ‘right to bear arms’ was initially created as an assurance that the people of America were free and able to raise a standing militia to oppose the government should it become oppressive. This is understandably justified in light of the fact that it’s exactly how America became a nation in the American Revolution against the British. But taking up arms against the government now is—sadly perhaps—a foolish and ignoble idea. The Second Amendment notion of armed war against the government is not only invalid, it’s infantile. It’s also the legal equivalent of demanding the ‘Terrorism’ trump card.

Finally, it must be noted here that even within that sacred amendment, the qualifier ‘Well-regulated’ managed to make the cut. Never was there any suggestion of handing out missile-launchers to every civilian. Handguns for self-defence may be deemed reasonable, but if you are equipped to fight an army, you are more likely to start a war.

At this point, we can see some weakness in the notion of free access to guns for all. There are few who would support selling firearms to people on a terrorist watch list, or violent offenders—and those few should certainly be ashamed of their stupidity.

But accepting some control hardly means encouraging complete control, and it may certainly be argued that the more difficult it is for citizens to legally access firearms for self-defence, the more prone they are to victimization by those who will harbor no such qualms. Further, it is a defensible case to argue that unless a restriction is demonstrably proven to be in the best interests of the citizens, then a government has no right whatsoever to enforce it. While I expect the vast majority of people who would favor that position would have a hard time defending it if pressed, it’s something to consider.

So where does this leave us? We can see strengths and weaknesses on both sides: With no control, we are inundated with guns and seduced by their increasing fetishization. With complete gun control however, we are cast into perceived subservience, and potentially left helpless against criminals who continue to arm themselves.

So here we are. Gun deaths are increasing, distrust of police/ government is growing, and America continues to have a depressing hang-up about guns being inherent to their self-worth (Source). Further, we’ve now seen that the extreme polarity of either side could potentially prove disastrous. Because we can now better understand the best intentions (public safety) of both sides, as well as the inherent risks of each extreme (uncontrolled carnage), we may find that we are better equipped to find a position of compromise.

We need balance and informed decision making. Both opinions have valuable insights—but we must actively work towards a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the issue if we ever hope to manage it. People, left with no hope, will always find ways to be violent and get what they need. We must give them hope for an achievable way if we intend to avoid strife. In the end, it is education and empathy, not arms, which shall assure the future safety of our citizenry.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

Government infringement into personal life is a serious concern to a great many people—and the stripping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.


Everything is Everything

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Yeah, it’s a Bruce Springsteen lyric (Link), but that’s not what this article is about. Well, I guess if ‘everything is everything’, then it must perforce be at least partially about that, but really, now you’re just being pedantic, and should be ashamed of yourself for such childish behaviour. Still, it’s a line you hear often enough—usually eliciting a stoic nod or an enlightened shrug, and little true thought is every really put into it. So, what do we mean when we say ‘everything is everything’? Well, just that in a way, yet not quite….

Certainly, everything is connected. From societal values, to child-rearing theories, to tax levels, to individual self-esteem, to war, to faith…one thing affects another in an unending and unwieldly domino effect. With clear vision and an open mind, it is all but impossible not to see the interconnected nature of all things. We’re not trying to go full ‘Butterfly Effect’ here, because we all know that butterflies affect nothing but children, but it must certainly be acknowledged that to have a serious and insightful discussion about any one topic, we must necessarily call upon and consider infinitesimal other issues.

Let’s start with an example. A popular issue these days is gun control. The argument in its shortest form is whether allowing easy access to guns creates a safer or a less safe society. Proponents of easy access to firearms, when not ranting about the constitution, focus on the old adage that ‘if you make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns.’ Well, that’s a tautological truth to be sure, but does it get to the heart of the issue?

Opponents of easy firearm access take a different route—claiming rather that by increasing access to guns, we allow for a more violent and reactive culture. That, combined with the ease of access, leads to greater gun violence.

Both sides have some relevant points, but to focus on the limited standards of these political movements alone is to miss the nuance and depth of the issue—and this is the case with most anything that is debated towards a specific, pragmatic end while lacking due reverence to the holistic ‘big picture’.

This article is not about gun-control per say, but rather the ways which we currently discuss the hot-button issues of our times. By keeping on the blinders and considering major topics within the narrow confines currently prescribed to them, it is easy to entirely miss how our decisions affect the world around us—and conversely—how they are affected by the very same.

In our recent article ‘The Key to Improving Our Collective Future’ (Link), we discussed why we consider education to be among the key factors in improving the world for all its sorry inhabitants. This notion remains a prescient topic in our current considerations. We’ve now established how everything is affected by everything else, but perhaps the single most impactful factor of any era is the reigning attitude of its people.

Humanity is a malleable lot—able to adapt not only physically over the long term, but also mentally, emotionally, and intellectually in the much shorter term. This is why our decisions must be more universally informed. From education, to taxes, poverty, war, governance, media and more—it is all connected, all around the world. The way we fashion our society is the way we raise our people. So what do we want humanity to be in the long run, and what is sustainable for us? Greed and envy and violence? Likely not, but this is what our present society breeds.

To have a culture predicated on the pervasive tenets of fear and greed, and then act appalled when its citizens turn feral and succumb to vice is disingenuous. People are the product of their environments, and we must arrange for a society which fosters the sort of people and values we claim to hold dear. Everything is everything, after all, and it’s imperative we take this idea wholly to heart.

It is a broad picture to consider, and certainly no easy solution will present itself. It is therefore beholden upon us to engage in open dialogue—and not just among our own familiar peer-groups. We must consider the worldwide implications of our values, and reflect honestly on how the standards we set, and the systems we create, work to shape the masses of humanity around us. It is, like it or not, entirely on us to make these decisions, for fate is an unreliable guide, and apathy the surest source of misdirection.

The considerations are vast, but not insurmountable if our will is harnessed in common cause. From improving our economic and fiscal balance (Link), to fully accounting for the vast potential of our nature (Link), we must give due consideration to what sort of culture we truly want to be, and then explore the most effective holistic steps to achieving it.

For in the end, the goal of a society must be finding and realizing the best way to raise the human animal in its masses. How we are raised is what we become, after all. What must humans be to thrive and to live in harmony with the planet? It’s a lot to weigh, but tell me what sort of people you wish to be surrounded by, and I will tell you what sort of world we must devise.

-Brad OH Inc.