Oh my, where have the years gone? I’m 71 years old and have seen lots of stuff: good, bad, and some that I can’t talk about. But with the help of a good therapist, and a load of self exploration, I believe that I have grown both spiritually and intellectually. Too bad I can’t say that about our society. I’m reminded of Richard Semon, a 19th century scientist and one of the characters in my latest book, “Mnemosyne: A Love Affair with Memory,” who believed that while 19th century science had advanced by leaps and bounds, society’s spiritual growth remained dormant. Centuries later, I’m thinking the same. As a child, I played cowboys and Indians. I was the cowboy who shot the Indian. Boy, did I fuck that one up. Eventually I learned that the Indians were the good guys. Then came the detectives against the gangsters. Except for Bonnie and Clyde, I always shot the gangster. As time passed, I moved into war games where I was an American soldier who shot anyone who didn’t look like me. In all of these adventures it was understood that they were games, consisting of toy guns and make-believe deaths, and a good versus evil theme throughout. It wasn’t real. It was “child’s play.” But for Jordan Davis and Travyon Martin, it was not “child’s play.” It was murder. When did we decide that it was okay to carry a handgun and ignore the need to step back from a perceived danger? Illinois, the place I call home, has become the final state to approve “concealed carry,” and many other states have approved the “stand your ground” law. “Concealed carry” is when your handgun is hidden from plain site. The “stand your ground” law states that you can use deadly force and that you do not have a duty to retreat if you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself. Now I’m not against hand guns. I completed two eight-week classes at a local community college on the defensive use of handguns. Both were excellent classes which stressed safety, shooting technique, and defensive plans to protect my family against home intruders. In fact, I enjoy shooting my handgun and do so to maintain my skills. I’m all for the 2nd amendment but things have gone crazy. I don’t feel like I should always carry a gun and grow an extra set of balls. Hey, that’s not me. I’m a writer and one set of balls is fine with me. When did “child’s play” become real life? When did we decide that it was okay for George Zimmerman to stalk Trayvon Martin, get into a confrontation, kill him, and then say that he was just defending himself. Oh, I forgot. Trayvon was a black teenager who wore a hoodie in the dark of night. OMG, he wore a hoodie. And I almost forgot that Trayvon had been to the store, bought a bad of skittles, and was walking home. Now it makes sense — black teenager, hoodie, bag of skittles. We all know that Trayvon’s death could have been avoided. Zimmerman was found not guilty. What about Jordon Davis, the latest tragedy which caused me to write this blog? Jordon was another black teenager who was shot to death by a white man. Jordon and three other black teenagers were in a black SUV socializing as most teenagers do. Their car was sitting at a gas station while they chilled out listening to loud, bass thumping rap music. We’ve all heard it, and yes, it can be annoying. Michael Dunn parked his car next to Jordon’s while Dunn’s finance walked into the station to make a purchase. Now the story is beginning to make sense — black teenagers, black SUV, loud bass thumping rap music. Now that would scare the hell out of any white dude. Dunn rolls down his window and politely asks the occupants of the SUV to turn down the music. Well, that’s what Dunn said. The black teenagers turned down the music, but after some discussion they increased the volume of that loud, bass thumping rap music. Now we had a pissed-off white man and a car full of loud black teenagers. Dunn said that he was disrespected and that Jordon was beginning to step out of the SUV, and appeared to have what looked like a shotgun. Dunn retrieved his handgun from the glove compartment, and quickly fired several rounds into the SUV. And as the SUV sped away, Dunn fired the remainder of his 10 round clip into the SUV. Jordon Davis died from gunshot wounds. Dunn said that he feared for his life and no son-of-a-bitch was going to kill him. No gun was ever found in the black teenager’s car. Let’s see, how does this work — concealed carry, stand your ground, an extra set of balls, and no one is going to fuck with me. The jury was unable to decide whether Dunn’s killing of Jordon was self defense or murder. We ended with a hung jury. Where does all of this leave me? I like most people, in fact, I love several of them. I have more than one handgun to protect my family, and would shoot someone if it was absolutely necessary. But I consider myself a tolerant person and don’t feel threatened when I see a black teenager wear a hoodie, or a car load of black teenagers play loud, bass thumping rap music. I sometimes wear hoodies and sometimes have my car radio turned up, and yes, my wife says that I play the music too loud. I believe that it’s okay to sometimes step back and walk the other way. Killing someone is a heavy load to carry. But hey, that’s just me. I’m a writer and I only have one set of balls.