Short Stories On Odyssey: Away

Short Stories On Odyssey: Away

The gravel driveway outside announces a visitor's arrival. My heart starts to pound.
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The sun sets on yet another day in the same place. My bed squeaks as I crawl under the sheets. The air that occupies the space between my bed and the window is hot and sticky. The open window gave way to nothing but dense air, so I closed it once again. I lay in my bed, throwing the sheets to the side, cursing the warmth that lay over the room like fog. I push my long hair to the side, sweat sticks to my sunburned neck, a bug bite itches furiously on my right leg. An owl calls out in the distance, the moon shines brightly in the sky and I let myself drift far away. Tonight my mind wonders off to the rolling hills of the Italian countryside. The sun on my face, my feet on the cool grass...there I could have a better life, but crossing over an ocean is hard especially when all I’ve ever known exists within a couple of miles of where I currently lay in the darkness. The owl calls out again, and I turn in my bed to watch as it spreads its wings and flies away into the night. I close my eyes wishing I could do the same, but instead of the ability to fly, sleep finds me instead.

The next morning I’m greeted by the same room, the same smells and the same surroundings. I sigh and take my time waking up. The sun peeks in through the window, hitting my face and turning the inside of my eyelids red. I turn my body to face the opposite wall hoping that if I try hard enough I’ll go back to sleep and dream of faraway places. Knowing that I’m too awake to even think about going back to sleep, I lift myself up and leave the comfort of my bed to make breakfast. The smell of morning swirls around the room, and the toaster announces the arrival of nearly burnt toast. The sun throws beams of light onto the kitchen table, butter melting slowly in their wake. A bee flies around the kitchen in search of the strawberry jam I finished yesterday morning. The toast crumbles slightly in my hand as I spread the butter over the dark brown surface. Raising the bread up to my lips I wonder if this toast would taste better if I were sitting on the porch of an Italian villa. I close my eyes, as I chew, and escape to the Tuscan hills. The bee lands on my shoulder. The kettle hisses impatiently on the stove. The gravel driveway outside announces a visitor's arrival. My heart starts to pound.

Cover Image Credit: Kuoni

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If A 19-Year-Old Maniac Can Get A Semiautomatic Gun, You Can Too

Welcome to ‘Merica, where we can buy semiautomatic military-grade weapons before we can buy a brew.
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How did a military-grade weapon become legal for practically anyone to purchase?

I asked this question after I learned that the AR-15 was a semi-automatic weapon. And this was the same weapon that was used this Valentine’s Day.

Originally designed for American troops to kill enemy fighters, the AR-15 is easier to buy then a handgun in Florida…

Welcome to ‘Merica. Where we can buy semiautomatic weapons before we can buy a brew.

Even living in Idaho, I had no idea that these guns were legal. I thought they had to be purchased from illegal arms trafficking. I would have been even more scared of guns and people who bear arms (especially concealed weapons… because well, it’s Idaho) if I had known it is that easy to acquire a type of gun like this.

Hell, if a 19-year-old homicidal maniac can get an AR-15 someone like me should probably get a gun too, right? I am sure that is what most people are thinking as well. Well if the insane and unstable individuals are buying guns, then the sane and stable individuals in our society should also be purchasing guns.

Whereas the second amendment was created so that we could rise up against our government if need be, actually, it is coming in handy so that we can arm ourselves against the insane people that our government isn’t protecting us against. I bet the founding fathers didn’t think this is what the second amendment was going to look like in 2018.

Of the recent deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., six of the ten have used an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The most recent including in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Las Vegas, Nevada, and now in Parkland, Florida in the nation’s deadliest high school shooting. Keep in mind we have to say high school because there is also the deadliest elementary school shooting, which had even more casualties and no action was taken.

Now, let’s just start from the beginning. What is an AR-15?

The AR-15, commonly mistaken as an “assault rifle” but actually standing for “Armalite rifle” was first used in the late 1950’s in the Vietnam war as a replacement for a heavier weapon, the M-14, as the U.S. military was trying to find a gun comparable to the AK-47 that their enemies were using.

Actually, the AR-15 was at first a failure because the military did not want to spend money on a new rifle when the M-14 was already being produced. Then, in the 60’s, the M-14 production came to a standstill and they began to mass produce the new official rifle, the M-16 assault rifle, which became the Americans match for the AK-47. After the war, the standard weapon became the fully automatic M-16 while the semiautomatic version, the AR-15, became available to civilians.

In the 70’s and 80’s no one really bought AR-15’s or used them illegally, but after deadly mass shootings, sales of the gun went up (some say this is due to a copycat mentality of mass shooters, the NRA would say this is due to its ability to be “customizable, adaptable, reliable, and accurate”).

In 1994, Congress, along with President Bill Clinton, put a ban on the manufacturing of a number of assault-weapons and the AR-15 was one of them. The production of the AR-15 was then stalled for ten years until the ban expired. If a ban is not renewed after ten years, then it dies. So even though the majority of the American public did not want this ban to go away, it wasn't renewed or reauthorized and the weapons were available to sell to the public again.

Of course, there was a large amount of support for this ban to expire (looking at you, NRA). And just like prohibition, once it was taken away, everyone seemed to want it even more, and do anything to get one.

But wait, it’s not that hard to get one in the state of Florida, as well as most other states.

So how did troubled 19-year-old, Nikolas Cruz, buy a semi-automatic assault weapon? Before he can buy an alcoholic beverage he can buy an assault weapon? Not to mention a 19-year-old with a history of erratic, troubled, antisocial behavior who was expelled for physically abusing his former girlfriend. A 19-year-old whose Instragram account was filled with guns and dead animals. In fact, many in his school were not surprised that he did something like this. Oh, and to top it off, the FBI had a tip about this man… So they obviously shouldn’t be surprised he did something like this either.

You have to be 21 to buy a handgun, but 18 to buy an AR-15, so it really is easier to buy this assault weapon for someone like Nikolas Cruz. You do have to pass a background check, however, and here is the federally prohibiting criteria from the FBI. But still, none of these would prevent him from owning and buying a semiautomatic weapon… A deadly machine that was designed to kill enemy soldiers and is now being sold to civilians and used to slaughter their own people.

And simply put, the only reason for these laws is because this is how Congress put them in place and it is all through gun lobbying and support that has just kept it easier to get these type of weapons. So each shooting is basically endorsed by Congress and the NRA.

So there you have it. The origin, uses, and process of obtaining an Armalite rifle, not to be confused with an assault rifle, which is also created to kill mass amounts of human beings. At least we all have more information about this weapon so we will know more about it for the next shooting.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube | IraqVeteran8888

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Apocalypse not Armageddon

Why Humanity Needs To Seek An Apocalypse, And Completely Reject Any Notion Of Armageddon
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When civilizations teeters on the brink of change, typically the breakdown of complex society; beliefs in the “end of the world”, end times prophecies from religions, and other notions of the world as one knows it ceasing to exist grow popular amongst segments of society. This phenomenon has been witnessed throughout history, with a famous account being within the fall of the Western Roman civilization. What became Christianity had elements of some of these end times mentalities that are still present in the religion to this day. One can observe, particularly in the Western world where Christianity is most prominent, a notion that as western civilization faces the challenges of its own in a contradiction; so the appearance that the world is ending is both merited and irrational.

It is undeniable that the social constructed institutions and mechanisms of society, not just in the West but globally, are failing to deal with their own contradictions in terms of economics, politics, religious strife, social discontent, etc. These factors all play a part in the destabilizing of society and the undoing of complex systems of civilization that make up modern life. Added to this, the mechanisms that are breaking down have been for centuries contributing to the slow ecological suicide of anthropocentrism. This philosophical mentality that humanity first and foremost has the right to do whatever humanity wishes with planet, its resources, and the other lifeforms harboring within the biosphere; which has accumulated into the literal breakdown of the massive complex systems of nature. The contradictions of global civilization are creating the circumstances in which the entire biosphere risks collapsing. This indeed would lead to the end of complex human society and possibly the species as a whole. The skies may not rain fire, demons may not rise from the depths of the underworld; but for all intents and purposes, it is likely the closest humanity will come to a self induced Armageddon, short of a global nuclear war.

But this is where an interesting linguistic focus creates distinctly different ideas. Many attribute the idea of Armageddon with the idea of the Apocalypse; but this is largely a mistake from centuries of translation. Apocalypse is rooted in a Greek terminology that essentially means “revealing“, an awakening of perception to reveal the greater truth of reality. Where Armageddon is a distinct idea built around Christian end times mentality; Apocalypse does not imply the end of anything. It does not imply that the world is ending, society is falling apart, civilization is destabilizing; arguably quite the opposite.

The Apocalypse, as a concept, is a moment that offers change in either direction of positive or negative repercussions. The reaction to the revealing of perception and the awakening of what the human species could evolve into leaves us all with the recognition that humanity does not have to die off; we do not have to let civilization collapse. Apocalypse occurred in the past once before, the transitioning of the European dark ages to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. This transitional period allowed a completely new perception of existence for human life to be built out of the knowledge gained from the expanded perception. And considering events like the bubonic plague and other mass deaths occurred during this timeframe, where massive portions of the worlds population died off in a short period of time; the possibility of European civilization collapsing beyond repair was a real possibility. But as we reflect back today, the apocalyptic unfolding of this era proved not to be a breakdown of complexity, but an expanded and energized growth and evolution on scales unseen in Europe for centuries, not since the days of antiquity before the fall of Rome.

So as we humans deal with the stress of balancing civilization in a manner that can prevent complex structures from buckling under the weight of modern life; we must also learn to grow and strengthen the bonds of society and the connection shared between all members the human species. The threat of Armageddon we face is on a global scale; no longer will one region fall into dark ages as others continue on. Twenty First century global civilization means that we are all in this complex situation together. We must therefore recognize that a willful and deliberate Apocalypse is the needed alternative to awaken the minds of the human race in order to create the conscious awareness that we require for survival.

Cover Image Credit: Mystic Investigations

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