More Deaths by Guns – what are we to do?


Common Snse Gun Laws - The Way Forward


The debate over gun laws continues after the dreadful shooting of the news crew of WDBJ7 news channel. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family, friends and co-workers of  Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

Politicians are responding in a variety of ways from seeing the incident as one to bring about more sensible gun laws and others stating yet again it is the people not the guns at fault.

Predisend Obama is quoted,”it breaks my heart every time you read or hear about these kinds of incidents … [It is] one more argument for why we need to look at how we can reduce gun violence.”

Hillary Clinton, the Democrat presidential candidate stated that, she wished the incident would be “what it will hopefully finally take for us to act”.

Ben Carson and Jim Gilmore both blame the people not the guns, “Politicians were wrong today to go out there and begin to do the same old song about gun control when that is not the issue.

It’s infuriating because it’s diverting us away from what we can do to solve this problem and that is to identify people who are unstable.”

So once again the politicans are divided, but do they know what the folks on the streets want anymore? Do the folks on the street know what they want? Do you think it is a mental health problem or should we be looking at more ‘common sense’ gun laws?

Another cause of concern to me is the reporting of this incident, the fact that someone filmed the incident and then put the video on Facebook and Twitter, bad enough it happened on live TV but to to then to further distress family, it was being replayed on social media sites -wrong on so many levels. Whilst the above videos where removed it still brings the question of what is actually put onto social media and how it can be or should be controlled. Let us know your views via the comments below.


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Holidays and Gun Laws


Fabulous photo of Baxter State Park taken from

Not my photo, something I aspire to take!


Hi there, hope everyone has been having a good summer. The group has taken a break over this month but meeting again in September. Although not officially meeting does not mean we have not spent time together, my family and I with 3 other members and their families have all have take a vacation together for two weeks. During that time a couple of other members and families came up for the weekend.  It was a very relaxed and interesting vacation. We all took a camping trip up to Maine. I love camping but not been to Baxter State park before, thoroughly recommend it for all age groups, took some great hikes and had some time to spend on trying out a new hobby – photography! Happily for me we where also away from the hunters – not something I personally am keen on. I also do not like my children to be within reach of firearms.

In fact fire arms, gun laws and our views on them where a topic of much debate around our evening ‘campfires’ so to speak! You know how it is; a group of people get together and something becomes the ‘hot’ topic for the  trip.  I guess for us it was an inevitable discussion, as it is on our agenda for September to discuss the groups input into the “sensible gun law” debates. Given the recent shootings at Virginia Beach not to mention all the other appalling shooting incidents this year, this is a subject as a group we cannot ignore. Not that I am indicating we want to but as such a sensitive and potentially volatile subject I guess we have been finding our feet, so to speak as a group before getting too involved.

From the evening casual discussions (although did get heated a couple of times) we are in for some very interesting debates.  Please let us know you views, we represent you and as I keep stressing your input is essential to ensure we are doing this correctly.


Photo from baxter State park Maine same source  -

Fabulous picture – look at those colours



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Same sex marriage and adoption legislation


Same sex marriage, adoption  and second parent adoption

Same sex marriage has been legal in Virginia since 2014. An lawsuit at that time recognised that the current law banning same sex marriage was unconstitutional. I remember that time very well as a it was a popular topic of conversation. I have always been an advocate of pro gay marriage and adoption due to having a close family member who is gay and has been in a committed relationship of over 10 years and the effect of the change has been monumental for him and his partner – I now have a very spoiled (by me) nephew, when I never expected to.  Looking at statistics the increase of support across the states has increased year by year with more state legislation approving same sex marriage. It is such a shame that the permission to do so  has once again come onto the political agenda in a negative way and under the umbrella of religious freedom. As a group the topic was discussed and whilst there are some religious differences in acceptance levels, our group has a 100% positive and supportive attitude. In our discussions it became clear that all of us had personal contact with the gay community – I have always been an active ally of the HRC campaign and discovered that a number of other members were also. What came from discussions was the conclusion that contact with same sex couples is necessary to form an honest opinion, knowing them personally and seeing how they live their lives, committed to each other, their families and their religious beliefs is instrumental in the support of changes. A report in 2012 supports that conviction and makes interesting reading.

During out discussions a confusion over adoption came to light, fortunately with experience via my family member I was able to share what can and can not be done. Under current Virginia law a married couple ( same sex included since 2014) can adopt, a single person whatever their sexuality can adopt ( allowing for adoption criteria of course) but two unmarried  people can not adopt together. Virginia does not  have second parent adoption, this is where the partner of a legal/biological parent can be given parental rights, we do however have step-parent adoption but this is only when the couple is married. As a group we are in favour of this remaining the same, for some of us our  beliefs might not totally accept gay marriages but we are all totally committed to the idea that a couple should show a commitment to each other by marriage before considering the commitment to raising a child.

We would very much appreciate hearing your views on this subject, please contact us via the comments below.

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Becoming a more cohesive group.

My last post talked a little about how personal feelings can affect our judgements and how that in turn affects the group and the work we are trying to do.  The decision to look for mentors was well received when it was first discussed but not as easy to implement as we thought.  Questions have been raised on the integrity of the group, if issues are discussed with third parties, issues of trust and confidentiality also were raised.  Obviously this needs some consideration, as a group we have decided to hold off on the idea of individual mentors. A substantial discussion took place around this issue and we felt a consensus that we did actually deal with issues within the group itself and that process was maybe not fully recognised. Obviously the matter of faith and its conflict needs to be decided at a personal level, by whatever means that person deems fit. As representatives of our individual communities it is again a personal responsibility to keep our fingers on the pulse of the said community. It was felt we already have good connections with our religious and community leaders, as that is how the group evolved in the first place, we just have to ensure this continues.


JFK Challenge launched by the JFK Presidential Library

This whole exercise was a learning experience in how we run the group, and certainly we expect to have to deal with contentious  items that may cause disagreement but we are now more than ever positive we can work together to achieve a consensus. We have decided as with any other group the more we do together the more cohesive we will become. To that end, next week as a group we will be visiting the JFK Presidential Library, in February 2015 the JFK challenge was initiated by the library to encourage our children to learn more about American History and asks them by playing via an app, to become trainees in the Peace Corp or NASA,  being prepared to “Fly to the moon or help people around the world.”  I for one will be very interested in learning more about this challenge and how it is progressing and what if any part religious aspects are addressed. This video explains a little more about the challenge.

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Working together on conflicting issues

Working together on conflicting issues


Untangling your thoughts with the aid of a mentor


We had a very interesting meeting this month that threw us a few curve balls in how this group works and how we need to be aware of each others responsibilities not just to the group but to the communities we represent. All sounds very intense but really it was a thought provoking and productive meeting that ending with us feeling even more motivated. So to go to the beginning, an informal discussion came about regarding the laws being considered in Florida, Kentucky and Texas in relation to transgender issues and how we would react if our state decided to consider the same sort of actions.  The resulting discussion was highly interesting in that while most felt it would not be a consideration here and would not support it on an individual basis; as representatives of our religious communities there might be conflict between our  individual thoughts and those of the people we represent.

The discussion moved onto how to resolve this form of conflict; no definitive answers were reached but the importance of interaction by ourselves with other representatives of our own religious and social groups was emphasized.  All agreed it could be too easy for a individual to forget who or what he is representing when in conflict with our own personal viewpoints. The outcome to this was that we decided each individual would pursue a mentor that was not part of our group. The role of the mentor to balance the needs of the community and personal issues in regards to how we as individuals respond to the issues we are facing. All members are to consider who they would take as a mentor and bring it back to the group at our next meeting, from the group a formal letter will be sent to the persons being considered requesting their assistance in a mentorship role.  This is an exciting development for our group any thoughts or considerations please contact us below.

As always, if you have an issue you want to be discussed please comment below.

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Politics, Religion and wearing the Hijab.

Politics, Religion and wearing the Hijab.

The terrible shootings in Denmark and the European response was one of the topics we have been discussing. People from all over are trying to disassociate with the fringe elements that are carrying out these attacks on innocents. The increase of barbarity towards one another is a great cause for concern both to us and the world at large. It appears that no matter what one says someone else will take exception to it. Look at Presidents Obama’s comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, he told attendees that violence rooted in religion is not exclusive to Islam but carried out by Christians. He is quoted as saying,” …even though religion is a source for good around the world, there will always be people willing to “hijack religion for their own murderous ends.” Comments that we find, recognize that  fringe elements of society and religion are creating the violence but according to this article, Obama was equating ISIS with Christianity. Our general feelings were that the article in question was using the platform of religion for political purposes – those of the anti Obama brigade. Whatever your politics we ask that you don’t be drawn into a us versus them  mind set. Figures of authority, when trying to breach a huge religious and cultural gap need to be supported. Violence will be found whatever political party is in power and using that violence to discredit or put forward a candidate should be below us.

We need to understand or neighbors, their religion and their culture and we have the means to do that within our own country, townships even our own backyard. In Illinois a Christian mother is attempting to do that by wearing the hijab throughout Lent; by wearing the traditional head covering she hopes to foster understanding and challenge perceived differences. What do you think? Is it too much? How could we foster a greater understanding? Positive and constructive ideas welcome.


The wearing of the hijab is not exclusive to Muslims


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