Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Value in Memory


Though a huge baseball fan, I’ve never been much of an autograph seeker.  I’m actually unsure as to why this is.  Somehow, the idea of meeting the players I watch and admire for their skill and determination always seemed like more of a thrill than having an autograph.  I’ve picked up a signed ball or two over the years, but rarely have I sought an autographed piece of memorabilia.

Those who specialize in such things tell us autographs and other collectibles which are rare are far more valuable than those which are more common.  That rare misprinted baseball card or comic book with a limited print run?  Those are the most valuable.  The antique tea set with a one-of-a-kind stamp on it?  A prized possession to be sure.

Only a few weeks ago, St. Louis and Donora, Pennsylvania, treasure Stan Musial passed away.  In a strictly objective sense, Stan’s autograph on various pieces of baseball souvenirs, most notably baseballs and photographs, is much less valuable than for most other great players.  Sure, the street value of these items have increased following his death, but only slightly.  This is because Stan was so incredibly generous with his signature.  He gave to any who would ask, and to many without their even asking.  This was especially true of children.  I do not know if Stan realized he was flooding the market for his own signature, but regardless, I doubt he would have cared.

The true irony comes in the many stories which have been told, in both television and print media, of the family heirlooms many Stan Musial autographs have become. These items may have varying degrees of resalable value, but such an assessment truly misses the point; not one of these family members ever described wanting to make a financial profit from these items.  They are too valuable right where they are, attached to a story about a handshake, smile, or good deed.

Stan’s autograph may never be a hot item on eBay, but we could all do worse than to have our memory treasured.

Grace and peace,
James

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2nd Amendment Talk

Once again, we are hearing more about the 2nd amendment in the current debate on gun control.  I’m not a scholar on such matters, but it seems even a basic understanding of history is lost by so many.  I do believe the original intent of the second amendment was to allow the people, i.e. the average person, the right to arm himself (and in their world, it was only “himself”) against a tyrannical government.  In this I agree with many gun-rights advocates.  However, there are several important points to consider:

1)      Our government is still “We the People…”  It has been my experience that people throw around the “tyrannical” label to describe the government passing laws they don’t like.  (Democrats:  “Republicans are tyrants!”  Republicans:  “Democrats are tyrants!”)  I’m no more naïve about this than Lincoln was when he described our government as “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  When we step back and look at our nation’s history, we usually get the government we deserve – good and bad.

2)      If I’m wrong about #1, do we believe for a second that our ability to own firearms, of any type, would protect us against a tyrannical government with fighter jets, stealth bombers, armed drones, guided missiles, and nuclear weapons?  Now who is being naïve?  “Red Dawn” is just a movie.  Really.  I would suggest protecting ourselves adequately from a potential tyrant means more, today, than stockpiling weapons (Education, perhaps?).

3)      Those who wrote (and passed) the 2nd amendment could never have imagined the automatic and semi-automatic firearms we have today and the sheer volume of killing power they grant to those so armed.  Of course, they likely also could not have imagined a world where some human beings could not own other human beings.  Or where woman are citizens, who can vote and stuff.  Perhaps we should recognize we live a different world (thankfully) than our founders could have imagined and consider how we might honor the best of their intentions for a new day.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not for a blanket banning of guns or even for blindly moving forward with regulation without adequate research and study.  As the article I posted yesterday on Facebook suggests, what we really need to do is adequately study the success, or lack of success, of current gun laws, both in our country and other countries.  Unfortunately, the powerful pro-gun lobby has blocked even research into these questions.

Increasing regulation on gun ownership and use will not solve all of our violence problems in our country.  At best they are only one part of a larger discussion we need to be having.  However, refusing to even have a discussion of our options regarding guns and hiding behind the 2nd amendment in doing so is ridiculous.

Grace and peace,
James