Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 10, 2013

VASICEK: With countless hoops awaiting us, many of us stop jumping

By Ed Vasicek
Tribune columnist

— Boys were created to play with weapons; since the days of the Wild West, boys without guns used their fingers to simulate them. Many Americans, however, are in a gun frenzy fad. Take this recent UPI article:

“A Maryland father said it was ‘insanity’ to suspend his 7-year-old son from school for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

“Josh Welch, a second-grader at Park Elementary School in Baltimore, said he was trying to chew his breakfast pastry into the shape of a mountain during breakfast at the school Friday, WBFF-TV, Baltimore, reported Monday.

“‘It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t.” the boy said. “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain, but it didn’t look like a mountain really, and it turned out to be a gun kinda.’”

I do not know whether the boy was telling the truth or not; perhaps he actually was trying to make a gun shape from his pastry. So what?

The media and others with anti-gun agendas are trying to engineer American ethics so that gun ownership suggests criminality — or, at least, latent criminality. Even the greatest minds cannot get over the “all women are humans, therefore all humans are women” logical fallacy: “Since random killers use guns, all users of guns must be mass murderers or prone to violence,” the reasoning goes.

On the other side, many Americans are stock-piling weapons and ammunition for fear that the government will whittle away at our right to bear arms. My suspicion is that the government will reduce the practicality of that right — through red tape. Uncle Sam — like insurance companies or merchants that offer rebate forms — has learned to control through red tape. With countless hoops awaiting us, many of us stop jumping.

Who wants to bother with fees, fines, repeated trips, and long waits on the telephone? I wonder how many benefits and privileges go unclaimed because people feel too confined by these tedious processes?

Think of how much more stressful shopping is than it used to be. Now you have to show your discount card as you check out, perhaps recite your phone number, and — if you really want to save — bring a discount code you acquired online. Although we can escape some hassles by shopping online, that doesn’t work for groceries or immediate needs.

Your discount card serves to help companies do market research. For example, a store might note that you have done little business with them recently and entice you to return with a coupon for a significant discount next time you shop.

To those of you who have Internet access, think about all the Internet passwords you must know. Some demand symbols, so you can’t use your usual password; others refuse symbols. Since the parameters vary, you cannot get by with only one or two or three passwords.

Impossible minds must be behind these rules — people who (albeit unintentionally) drive the rest of us crazy. Perhaps they enjoy detail, technicality, and the process of hoop-jumping. You cannot convince them, however, that others are seriously stressed out by hoops. They cannot imagine it, so it must not be.

Tedious minds design the initial product, then a competitor makes a similar product user-friendly. Consumers flock to the user-friendly product, requiring the first company to wake up and smell the coffee.

So controlled and stressed we are: licenses, discounts for conformity, non-detail persons squeezed into a mold that gives them claustrophobia, and a growing barrage of red tape. Fortunately, modern life compensates us with amazing benefits. I guess you can’t have the good without the bad. Sometimes, though, it gets silly.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.