Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fear Itself, and Overwhelming Panic

Two former high school buddies and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises this past Sunday evening. I do not know how Doug and Tim felt entering the theater, there was no discussion of it, but there was a sense of vulnerable trepidation on my part. As we chatted and waited for the movie to begin, I took periodical note – as I often do wherever I am – of our surroundings. Like the iconic Batman, I prefer to observe whenever possible from on high and in the shadows, figuratively speaking, with everything laid before me rather than prone with my back turned and head on a swivel. It is an internal action/reaction mechanism, as one cannot know what has changed about their environment if one never notices its distinctiveness in the first place. I do this not out of paranoia, but just to have awareness that I feel a lot of people lack when in unfamiliar environs.

As the theater darkened and the movie began, my anxiety slightly increased. Not to the point of distraction, simply a disquieted elevated alert for any unusual activity. I watched the exit door, and people – including staff, who occasionally stood vigil checking the theater – leaving and re-entering the main one. After every action sequence, I found myself scanning the room. Why did I do this? Did I have a plan if, god forbid, a copycat murderous psychopath tried something similar to the events in Aurora, Colorado? I inventoried what we had on us for defense:  full sodas that could be thrown as distractions (probably futilely, and less usable as the movie progressed), belts that could be used as whips (granting being within range, and as long as our shorts did not fall down) and sets of keys that could slightly impale (if flesh wounds counted for anything). Handling these items with precision as we immediately sprang into action – coupled by decades of knowledge on each other’s judgments and reactions, mostly from adolescent nocturnal activities involving toilet paper and bottle rockets – we would not be victims.

At least, that is what I told myself as we sat and watched the movie.

Truth is you never know what you would do in a situation until it is upon you. I am certain similar thoughts as mine entered the minds of patrons in attendance at the Century Theatre in Aurora once the chaos erupted. Stories of survivors echo this belief, with several members of the audience heroically acting without hesitation to screen and protect others – some being strangers – at the cost of their own lives. Batman comics and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, particularly in The Dark Knight Rises, epitomize the difficulty, but not impossibility, in fighting back when the wicked and depraved who seek to do harm, without a care for the law, are the only ones with the arsenal or a plan. As Alfred told Bruce, some people just want to see the world burn. Violence may beget violence, but only if there are no means – or no one – to counter such evil to its ultimate demise. You have to try in the face of the odds, or the fear can overwhelm in a panic.

That is why it was important to be at the theater, so that a murderous psychopath did not win in disrupting our daily lives. More so that the innocent lives taken and forever scarred in tragedy are remembered.

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spirit of 1776, or 1917?

Recently, I was able to purchase a brand new radiator for my vehicle from an online retailer at an extremely discounted price over that of a “brick-and-mortar” auto parts store. All thanks to the competitive nature of capitalism, which favors consumers more often than not by organically self-regulating prices. According to President Obama, though, I should thank the government – because “if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Is that what he truly believes?

Nobody Else Made It Happen, Mr. President, by Rob Miller (American Thinker)

From this one statement, the president has shown his true socio-economic philosophy – and it is a socialist-leaning one. In his worldview, it was not the individual drive and entrepreneurial spirit of, by and for the people that crafted American exceptionalism; it was, and is, the government. Every business owner – from large corporations to small “mom-and-pop” shops (if they still exist) – should find concern in the economic policies of an administration that portrays itself as the purveyor of economic success. And yet, takes no responsibility for the failed ventures.

Was it not thirteen colonies composed of self-made men – from the daily laborers operating as blacksmiths and cobblers to the autonomous farmers and industrialists – who built the United States after breaking from a government that wished to control and regulate their commerce? Even in the last century, the Apollo Moon landings, though spearheaded by President Kennedy’s call to action, are still a prime example of private enterprise accomplishing great achievements that could not have occurred without the men and women who had the drive and spirit to make it happen.

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks...if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”

When government believes itself king over the investment in ideas and innovation, it is time to hide the money under the mattress – because the politicians are coming for it. Not in the spirit of 1776, but in the spirit of 1917.

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sweet November Rain Dance

The election showdown is pretty much set for later this year. Previously, I have endorsed two candidates from different parties who did not pan out. Given that track record, I will not go for a third at this time. Let us not forget, though, what this election – perhaps more so than any since before the Second World War – means for the nation. As “We, the People” celebrate the 236th year of our country’s “birth,” there is a polarized divide that threatens to tear it apart. While we have not reached the austere levels of other countries, there is, hyperbole aside, a tinderbox simmering underneath simply waiting for the proper spark to ignite it. No longer simply “Bleeding Kansas.” Just bleeding.

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” 
-Patrick Henry

The recent Supreme Court 5-4 decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) handed to the federal government one of the largest overreaches into the private affairs of American citizens in the nation’s history. While access to certain privileges is one thing (but not a “right”), governmental coercion that threatens “penalties” for non-compliance is tyranny. Yet, illegal aliens stream across the border everyday without question or consequence, benefiting from our benevolence while draining already-strained resources and taxpayer dollars. In Chief Justice John Roberts' Warren moment, will Obama thank former President Bush and the appointment of Roberts during his administration for the victory?

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." 
-John Adams

Why did the Roman Empire fall? See the preceding paragraph. No longer able to sustain the defense of its borders, a continuous influx of foreigners – some who were once sworn enemies – and the weight of the burden they placed on the shrinking Empire fed its eventual collapse. Around the world, from Asia to the Americas, the same fate is true for almost all of the once great civilizations:  the inability to maintain their culture due to poor foresight by leadership in dealing with the unrestrained pressures thrust upon them. Is history repeating itself, or at least rhyming?

As a nation, we have treaded the precipice numerous times throughout our history. Will we again believe and aspire to what is, and can be, great about the United States, or reflect and mourn the glory that once was like so many past cultures and societies turned to ash by their own hubris? Happy birthday USA…let’s hope it will not be the last, or that history never forgets those who have unselfishly shaped, defended and sacrificed since that first “shot heard ‘round the world.” 

©2012 Steve Sagarra