Ellis Paul

May 3 2007 - Thoughts on Virginia Tech

May 3, 2007

I originally posted these thoughts in an e-mail newsletter sent on April 19, 2007, but I also wanted to have them archived here on my blog so that you all would have an opportunity to reply. I look forward to reading your comments.

Hello everyone,

Like everyone in the world this week I am disheartened by the horrible tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech. And like many of us, I wish there was something more I could do to help prevent these kinds of horrendous events from taking place. We have potential in this country to create a society where senseless violence is a rarity rather than a common occurrence.

A recent CNN statistic states an alarming discrepancy between Great Britain's murder rate from handgun violence and that of the United States. England's murder rate from handguns is 0.1 per million, whereas the United States is 41 per million. There's some obvious room for improvement here in the United States.

This week in Virginia, a crossroads of psychological, societal, and gun issues all came together in one violent day. The problems obviously go deeper than just our guns. But guns are the necessary place to start.

Virginia has some of the most liberal laws in the country regarding gun control. I'm hoping these will be addressed in the next few weeks in our state legislature; If you are a resident of Virginia please contact your representative or Governor's office demanding change in the laws governing gun availability. As a parent with two kids in Virginia, I'm concerned for their safety as they prepare to enter the state's public schools. Be outraged. Write them and let them know you want change.

Here is the link for you to contact: Governor Tim Kaine

The media and entertainment industry's unbridled lust for money through the glamorization of violence must be addressed through some sort of conscious consumer ban on so called art that crosses the line in depicting violence. Nobody can stop them but us.

The first amendment guarantees them the right to free speech to create any kind of garbage we want, we can also smoke cigarettes. But there are restrictions on them. Heavier taxes. Advertising restrictions. All because the government has recognized their danger to those exposed to them.

Why don't we have advertisement restrictions on these movies, music and TV shows that show a flagrant use of violence? Make people pay a higher ticket to see them? A warning label has become like a tag demarking cool content. Let's tax it. Use the tax proceeds for anti-violence counseling in schools.

Clearly someone intent on creating this much damage wouldn't let something like a law hold back his intention. But restrictions on the kind of automatic handguns Cho purchased may have decreased the number of people killed and wounded.

The restrictions on guns in Great Britain and here in the U.S. in states like Massachusetts have resulted in significant statistical improvements in handgun fatalities.

I have written a song, "Autobiography of a Pistol" that addresses gun issues and accountability that I am offering as a free download on MySpace. Please spread the song among friends as a vehicle for dialogue and change. Please leave comments there.

This month I am also finishing a group of songs for a children's album called The Dragonfly Races. Many of the songs are focused around creating change towards a more peaceful world. It seems ridiculous to me that people could think the word "peace" has become trite when scores of people are being killed every day in Iraq in numbers that make that awful day in Virginia seem small. We are sending messages to our children in this country that violence is an acceptable form of communication.

It's clearly time to (once again) create art that carries a message of peace that leads us away from this crazy, dangerous crossroad where our way of life has stalled.

Thanks for your tremendous support out there on the road,
Take care,

updated: 3 years ago

Essay Contest Winners Announced!

Essay Contest Winners Announced

An ESSAY CONTEST was recently held on the Ellis Paul Discussion Board. Three winning essays were selected. You can read them below. They are listed in the order received.

Essay #1 - Tommy Bates:
(BeckyG - Norman, OK.)
Tommy Bates walks out the door of his parents house. Its another Friday night and hes off to pick up his girlfriend. They dont have any planstheyll probably go down to Luckys Diner, meet up with their friends and then drive around, have a few beers and call it a night. Its what hes done on Friday nights ever since he got his drivers license. He works at the marina on the lake and saved up the money to buy his old beat-up Range Rover. But lately, Tommy has been thinking about what hes going to do after graduation. Lucy wants to get marriedthats what all her friends are doing, either because theyre pregnant or just because its the only thing they know to do. And actually marriage has been the plan practically since the day they were born. But lately hes been having dreams and hell wake up in a cold sweat. He thinks it all started about the time his grandmother had a stroke and had to go into a nursing home. He thought she couldnt tell the difference between reality and dreams, but he started thinking that perhaps she was remembering things from long ago, back before she met his granddad when he was in Europe for the big war. She would talk about taking boat rides down the Thames, the Seine, the Rhine. He would be embarrassed for his grandfather because she talked about doing all these things with her boyfriendshe acted like his granddad wasnt even there. He had never thought about what she must have been like as a young womanshe was just his grandmom to him. And his own mom and dadwell, they had always been happy to stay home. They never took family vacation s except to go camp out by the lake. He always loved being out on the lake. When he was out on the water, those were the only times when he felt free. His biggest dream had been to buy a houseboat and live on the water. Hed always been a happy guy until lately. He felt like he was outside of something and looking in, like he didnt belong anywhere. But for this one more evening, he was going to put aside all this crazy thinking and go out and have fun. Maybe someday, though, he would buy his old car a sail and leave this town forever.

Essay # 2 - He's a soldier faded in a photograph - just a kid in a uniform:
(AmyF - Scottsdale, AZ.)
He held the musty cardboard box in his hands, surprised that a box full of memories could weigh so much. Annie tried not to stare, but he felt the eyes memorizing the lines of his face; as she peered at him expectantly from under sunset-colored lashes. He lifted out a time-stained picture of himself, wearing a Navy soldier's cap, straight-faced, looking as if he could save the world, alone. He had felt so 'grown up', then. Many years later, he had voyeuristically wondered what a child of his own would look like, but wondering was as far as he'd gotten. Now, here she was, seeking him out. She had his wild, unbroken mustang eyes, but the cheeks and r ings of fiery hair were of someone he dared remember now only in dreams. He felt a little unsteady...not unlike that first day back on dry land after having served on the high seas all those long months.

She was asking him if he remembered herRose McGuirefrom Carolinawhen the vertiginous feeling washed over him again. Beneath the washed-out picture laid a neatly pressed four-leafed clover. He could still remember how her breath had tickled his ear that night as she whispered, "For luck, so you'll make it back safe", and plucked it from the soft ground they laid on. He had lived a solitary life in the years after the war. The doctors told him there was medication for getting himself 'back together', but he never filled the prescriptions. They couldn't understand that what they called 'his illness', was just his payment to God for letting him survive when so many of his mates had not. He paid his dues, and today that seemed to be the only thing h e could count on. He stumbled through a response, thinking that this would be far from the happy reunion she had probably played over and over in her mind. He couldn't be the person she imagined him to be; didn't know if he had room left for someone else to come in. The dark corners of his life were already too full of unopened boxes of dusty memories.

Essay # 3 - He's a soldier faded in a photograph - just a kid in a uniform:
(LauraM - Arlington, VA. - Pictured at right with Ellis after the XM Radio event.)

Do you remember our first kiss
It was such a moment of bliss
In the middle of Regina Circle
While the disco ball twirled on
But we didnt hear the music stop
As our eyes locked out the crowds
You held my hand to walk me home
while the moon hid its face in the clouds
You smiled as you asked me to
speak your name aloud

Lord, Its such a
Would you change a past thats done
End this life on the run
When you face the past
The past might heal old scars
And lights the future bright with
The glow of the stars
When you arrived you were nineteen
And all my questions
was answered the same
Said you couldnt go back
Said youd picked the wrong track
And your father had banished your name

So you followed your heart out to the west
To the Canadian great outdoors
Chose the girl you thought was the best
And settled down with hopes unfurled
And every night I slept with my head
on your chest
Is this what calls you
Back to family unforgiven
In Carolina
Does this remind you?

Her name is Annie McGuire
Says the letter from your father
He hasnt written in 20 years
But she bridged the family feud
I know you dont know what to do
by the way you stare at the fire
You have so much love left to give out
And you never were much of a liar
Her mothers gone and a family
Is all shes after.
Is this what calls you
Back to family unforgiven
In Carolina
Does this remind you?

updated: 10 years ago