I was a 35-year-old medical student with a wife, three kids and zero resources. We were so poor we got reverse taxes. We actually looked forward to April 15th every year — not so much anymore.
Thanks to my amazing wife, some generous parents and God’s Divine Providence, we still had a warm, safe, nurturing home despite our rather remarkable dearth of material goods. Were I being completely honest, this was arguably the best time of my life. We got Domino’s pizza every 6 to 8 weeks, and it was indeed an epic event. Such relative rarity makes the sweet things taste all the sweeter. At one point, however, we found ourselves in need of a vacation. Our humble circumstances mandated something cheap.
My bride figured it out. We would catch the Amtrak in Jackson, Mississippi, and do a long weekend in New Orleans. The train ride down would be fun for the kids, and we found inexpensive accommodations. As Amtrak is federally subsidized, the fares were reasonable, even for all five of us. New Orleans has a great zoo, the National WWII Museum, and lots of good food. It was shaping up to be a memorable family adventure.
The train ride was indeed a blast. We pulled over onto a siding to make way for a passing freight and spotted an alligator. By the time we rolled into New Orleans, we were ready to explore.
America’s train stations were, in general, built many decades ago and sited in the most vibrant parts of town. Now, more than half a century later, what used to be thriving is often no longer. The train station in New Orleans looked like something out of Mogadishu.
We were all young, fit and naïve. I couldn’t afford a taxi, so we resolved to just walk all the way across the city to our modest hotel. With our luggage on my back and three kids in tow, the Dabbs family struck out on foot to experience the Big Easy in August.
New Orleans in summer is Africa hot. It is also covered in a thin patina of homeless people. However, I worked in an inner-city hospital and appreciated that most of these folks, though they might look a bit intimidating, were actually pretty harmless. Regardless, I am armed whenever I am not asleep or in the shower, so I wasn’t unduly concerned about our safety.
My six-year-old son clung dutifully to my right hand as we made our way through the squatters’ camps and detritus of squalid urban living. Considering this was a fairly unfamiliar world to my kids, they just soaked it in. Then my son asked me innocently, “Dad, what’s wrong with that man?”
I followed his tiny index finger to the object of his curiosity. This guy sat motionless on the sidewalk, his back leaning against an abandoned store front. His clothes were tattered, and an empty wine bottle stood on the concrete beside him. Despite the blistering heat he reclined backwards in brilliant direct unfiltered sunlight. As I looked more closely I could see flies crawling in and out of his nose.
“Well, son,” I said. “That man is dead.”
My man-child was instantly mesmerized. He had never before seen a dead man and was now overcome with curiosity. I found myself in a bit of spot.
We couldn’t afford a cell phone. I had no idea what the protocol was if you encounter a dead wino on the streets of New Orleans. It seemed somehow uncharitable to just leave him there. As I began searching about for somebody who might have a phone or a business that might yet still have a landline, a squad car pulled leisurely up to the scene. A big cop stepped out, walked up to the dead guy and softly kicked him in the foot with his boot. Predictably, the corpse did not respond.
“Yep, call the meat wagon,” the cop shouted over his shoulder to his partner in the car. “This one’s done.”
My son took one long, last, fascinated look, and we headed on our way. Now some two decades later my children don’t remember the New Orleans zoo, the WWII Museum or the food. However, from now until the sun burns out they will never forget finding that dead guy. Kids are like that. His was the Big Chill in the Big Easy.
All the more reason to develop a time machine!
This by the way this is near my home over in the Puente Hills Mall & my Buddy Jim Castaneda was the guy who wetted down the parking lot. A good man by the way! Grumpy
People like to talk about Europe a lot for comparisons to the US where gun crime is concerned, but several European countries which are the most respectful of gun rights also have lower homicide rates than their far more restrictive neighbors.
Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Austria all allow citizens to acquire firearms that would be illegal in a few US states, and yet their homicide rates are all well below 1 per 100,000.
It’s the same reason why comparably-sized US cities can have completely opposite homicide rates, even when the safer city is in a state with far less restrictive gun laws. Look at cities with similar populations like Boise versus Buffalo. Or Gilbert, Arizona vs. Newark, New Jersey.
Politics — and law and order — are downstream from culture. Safer cities are more cohesive, with cultures and values that are better entrenched in their populations. That’s why they are, in general, safer with less crime. Gun control laws have nothing at all to do with it.
Try as they might, anti-gunners can’t replicate the effect of strong social cohesion with legislation like “assault weapon” bans or magazine capacity limits. It insults our intelligence when they insist these broken cities that are run by their allies — frequently for decades — are only a few more “common sense gun control” laws away from salvation.
Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit https://crpa.org/.
“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”
This is one of many quotes attributed to legendary public statesman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Since his retirement from public office in 2004, Powell has spent much of his time sharing his leadership knowledge with the business community. In his 2012 book, It Worked For Me, Powell attributes his success to hard work, straight talk, respect for others, and thoughtful analysis.
At the heart of the book are Powell’s “13 Rules” — ideas that he gathered over the years that formed the basis of his leadership principals.
Powell’s 13 Rules are listed below. They are full of emotional intelligence and wisdom for any leader.
1. It Ain’t as Bad as You Think! It Will Look Better in the Morning. Leaving the office at night with a winning attitude affects more than you alone; it conveys that attitude to your followers.
2. Get Mad Then Get Over It. Instead of letting anger destroy you, use it to make constructive change.
3. Avoid Having Your Ego so Close to your Position that When Your Position Falls, Your Ego Goes With It. Keep your ego in check, and know that you can lead from wherever you are.
4. It Can be Done. Leaders make things happen. If one approach doesn’t work, find another.
5. Be Careful What You Choose. You May Get It. Your team will have to live with your choices, so don’t rush.
6. Don’t Let Adverse Facts Stand in the Way of a Good Decision. Superb leadership is often a matter of superb instinct. When faced with a tough decision, use the time available to gather information that will inform your instinct.
7. You Can’t Make Someone Else’s Choices. You Shouldn’t Let Someone Else Make Yours. While good leaders listen and consider all perspectives, they ultimately make their own decisions. Accept your good decisions. Learn from your mistakes.
8. Check Small Things. Followers live in the world of small things. Find ways to get visibility into that world.
9. Share Credit. People need recognition and a sense of worth as much as they need food and water.
10. Remain calm. Be kind. Few people make sound or sustainable decisions in an atmosphere of chaos. Establish a calm zone while maintaining a sense of urgency.
11. Have a Vision. Be Demanding. Followers need to know where their leaders are taking them and for what purpose. To achieve the purpose, set demanding standards and make sure they are met.
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. Successful organizations are not built by cowards or cynics.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. If you believe and have prepared your followers, your followers will believe.
Colin Powell’s rules are short but powerful. Use them as a reminder to manage your emotions, model the behavior you want from others, and lead your team through adversity.
Rest in Eternal Peace, General!
Thank you for your service to the United States, the world, and Mankind.
The world is a better place for you having been in it for 84 years.