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Bye Bye Calgary

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna


In 1971, Don McLean, the American folk rock singer-songwriter, sings about one of his heroes Buddy Holly. Holly was a famous rock star who was killed in a plane crash along with other rockers, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens in 1959. McLean refers to that day as the "Day That Music Died."

I know for many of people my age and maybe slightly older might think of a different day when the music died. That was a day, 39 years ago now, when John Lennon, of the Beatles, was shot and murdered outside of the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan. The Beatles that had become so intrinsically aligned with the changes in the sixties were an icon for many people. Even though they split up in 1969, people in 1980 were still hoping that one day they might reunite. Now that dream was gone. The Beatles would never be together again. For many, that day in 1980 was the day that music died- the music was murdered..

I have lived a very fortunate life. I have not been close to anyone who has been murdered. Oh I guess there were a few folks on the periphery who I know who have been murdered. A well known doctor in my home town was murdered. The mother of one of my sister's classmates was murdered in a high profile case that shook my city and my province. But I never met either of these two victims. So I am lucky, no one close to me has been murdered.

But unfortunately, murder has touched so many lives since Yoko Ono was left a grieving widow. I read a statistic this week, a statistic that blew me away. In the 39 years since John Lennon's death, 1.15 million people have been killed by guns in the United States. Not all of these will have been through murder- some people have been accidentally shot or were killed by police or were killed when someone was trying to protect themselves. But still 1,150,000 thousands lives have been lost to guns. That would mean that the parents, children, friends, and lovers of all those people have been left to grieve a life snuffed out.

1.15 million is no small number. In fact it is about the same size as our province's largest city, Calgary. Calgary is going through a bit of hard go at present, but it is a vibrant cosmopolitan city. Just imagine if it was suddenly gone, it's citizens taken out by bullets. Imagine the grief that might spread round the planet if Calgary was no more (except maybe there would be as much grief amongst Eskimo and Oiler fans). Imagine the countless families that would be devastated by such an act. Tears would be in the billions.

The gun lobby would be quick to remind us that guns do not kill people. They would remind us that people get murdered via other ways other than guns. People get stabbed, poisoned, or bludgeoned with a Candlestick like in the children's board game. They remind us that murders happened in the world long before guns. They lead us to believe that murders would still happen even if guns were to be abolished.

Those statements by the NRA are somewhat true. Yes the gun as an inanimate object cannot shoot someone by itself. Yes there are other ways of killing people and there always have been and always will be other ways to murder people. Yet a gun seems (and I have never held one let alone fired one so I am just guessing here) a very effiicient way to kill someone. The city of Calgary and a billion tears prove that. Blessings.

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