When I was younger, in my pre -teen years I was in a class for proper etiquette and protocol, known as White Gloves and Party Manners. Somewhere in my archives I still might have that little yellow book with the drawing of a little girl in a party dress and with a purse, bow, and little shoes just right for a gala. In that little book were chapters on how to write a letter, how to answer the telephone, and other niceties of etiquette, even down to how to dress for the seasons and for parties. I was around very good company many times, and when I was not, well, I had a strong conscience on the good side to follow and learn what not to do, and as a consequence what to do.

For me, right and wrong were not hard to realize. I had a strong intellectual background and reenforcement of proper behavior in addition to going to the party manners course, taking ballet, taking piano, working in a hospital, working in a museum gift shop, traveling around the world, and being around older relatives whom I could not help but want to work with and assist. It just seemed natural, right and proper, a neighborly thing to do. I didn’t mind working in the yard; in our part of Nashville keeping a neat yard was part and parcel of the privilege of living there. Later when my family had an office building near Centennial Park, I worked there and found it a good thing, a sense of duty, to help maintain that property for many reasons; a well -maintained property is safe for others to use, appealing to look at, a professional environment, and better to deal with when it comes time to sell it.

Behavior in every aspect and facet of expression and life must be carefully considered and worked with and discussed; and it should not take a tragedy such as those in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson or at Virginia Tech to bring such issues to the national limelight. It is time we took a hard look at human behavior, but we have been doing so for such a long time, and what have we done?


In the news since the tragic events that happened in Newtown, Connecticut and in the light of the theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, there has come the connection of “gun violence” and “gun control” to behavioral problems and the people who have them. Well I have news for you folks in elected office and in the positions of control: everyone has some degree of behavioral problems or behavioral issues.

Behavior can be in someone’s and anyone’s perspective good or bad, to any extent or degree. It can be good in the sense of being civil and showing proper etiquette when in public or it can be bad in the sense of murder, abuse of another person or animals, road rage or any number of descriptions. You can or not spit on a sidewalk in front of another person, you can curse/ swear or not when around a church; you can or not slow down when a funeral procession passes. What do you think is “good” or “bad”?

No one I know of have heard of has the right to judge what is good behavior or bad behavior, and certainly based on that no one in those high offices of power has the right to judge who should or should not have a gun. No one is “normal”, whatever that is. No one is perfect or has the right to judge anybody else. People have degrees of self -interest or vices that can skew their views of others or situations, and as the human instinct goes, we tend to do what will make us feel good first and give us an advantage or benefit or slight edge or big edge or “power over” someone else.

The big picture is that we need to look way before guns, drugs, or gangs to the very issue of behavior itself. What IS behavior, what does it involve, what is contained in a certain behavior or habit? Why do some people bully or abuse? Why do some try to help others who have bee abused or are on substances that do harm to the body? Why do some act properly when eating out and others use cell phones and wear caps at the table? Are you more likely to exhibit road rage or less likely?

Behavior and human habits have been the subject of discussion, evolution, articles and books for centuries. We do not understand every subtlety of human expression and the brain; we can tap in and probe the brain and understand what areas of the brain control certain things we do, what we say or how we think. Everything we do is a behavior of some kind, whether or not someone else sees or hears it. All we do can be considered a “habit” or a “tendency” or a “trend”. You get up at a certain time, you eat something at a certain point in the year; you take a certain train, wash your dishes, straighten the case on the retail floor and wash your car.

When you consider “gun control” in the face of “behavior concerns” over who should or should not possess a gun, be very careful. REmember no one has the right mind or totally normal or perfect state of judging to say who should or should not have a gun. Laws have been written to help us carry out judgments on such things, and we leave it to those serving in office, to our police departments and state law enforcers to carry out the laws to their fullest extent. We trust those we elect or appoint or who are in law enforcement to carry out those laws, and we need to make sure they do.

We… the same people who have those degrees of behavioral problems, we need to “trust”, we need to “enforce”, we need to “make sure”. What happens when the regulators need regulating? Just this morning on the news was an article about the border patrol or border crossing officers who are bad apples in that area of taking care of our NATIONAL SECURITY. They can be bought by the Mexican drug cartels who are funneling drugs and weapons into our nation and making their way into our cities and homes and ruining our lives. They can be turned by money, sex, drugs and material goodies just like anyone who is vulnerable, who in other words does not have a strong foundation from early childhood of what is considered proper behavior or action that shows trust and devotion to one’s duties.

Flaws in our behavioral system do exist, and I am not sure whether there is a 100% solution to correcting every subtlety or discrepancy of behavior in our human makeup. We need to begin very early on in life ensuring that behavior is explained and learned and dealt with properly. Behavior must be considered everything we do, say, think and how we act at every turn; that is BEHAVIOR. When someone, especially an older person, says, “You must have been raised right”, I take that as a compliment because in my mind that tells me I am behaving appropriately for a certain situation in public.

Behavior is not that complex and yet it is. We can carefully consider all we do during the day, as it affects others or how it might. We must be careful of many things we say and do, especially around other people. Now we cannot always know how a color or a style, a word or the way we drive will turn off or turn on another person but we certainly can take some common ground precautions to make sure we do not hurt or injure or harm someone, as much we we possibly can.

We can learn to drive safely, we can keep from hitting our children or shouting at them, and we can stop the abuse of the elderly. We can stop the abuse of animals, we can teach our children to set the table for a nice dinner, to help clean the kitchen, to take care of household tasks that are age -appropriate for them and to do work in the yard when they can hold a rake.

But then we need to take charge of our own behavior, and we can remedy our habits. It is not too late to change a habit we consider as bad or inappropriate, especially if we have been told that it is not a good thing to do, and the party who told us that is someone we trust and can rely on to give good advice. Behavior… the stuff of life and living. Do we need to make everything so hard and difficult?

Complex issues, aren’t they?

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.