I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of this one for a few days.
The tragedy in Sandy Hook has elicited every kind of response from the supportive and caring, to the vitriolic and callous. All of us want to find a way to express our anger, our frustration, our grief, and our love. Many of us want to do so publicly, but I’d ask us to reflect for a moment on what’s helpful and thoughtful, and what’s not.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not a fan of sound-byte sized opinions. But if I was to have one on this situation it would be; Take a beat. Think before you speak and especially before you write something permanent.
There’s a time and a place for the gun control debate, but both sides seem a little late to the party during a tragedy such as this. There’s a time for thinking about the violence in our culture, from video games to TV, but with an understanding that no two things are the same, and a whole genre or medium can’t be judged by a few bad apples. Both video games and guns are like alcohol, most of us know how to drink and use responsibly, and some of us are drunks, or maniacs. That doesn’t mean we should ban any of these things. We tried it with alcohol and it didn’t go so well.
And specifically to those of you using Israel as an example for why we should have guns in schools, I’d ask that you think for a moment about how their situation is just a little bit different than ours. Perspective is something sorely needed by people sharing this view. The daily threats of destruction and violence in Israel are something America has no experience with, and we’re arrogant if we think we have the same thing here.
During times of tragedy like this we often accuse our politicians of exploiting the situation for political gain. Democrats enact tougher gun control and Republicans fight back. But what do the rest of us actually have to gain? What do we gain by reaching into the deepest, darkest recesses of ourselves, and showing our true nature to the world? Or worse, what do we gain by having a knee-jerk reaction, of jumping on a sharing, liking, tweeting bandwagon, without a thought as to why, associating our names, our reputations permanently.
Frankly, I’m disappointed in some of my Facebook friends, my friends. These are people I know who think deeply, and who care deeply, allowing themselves to distill it all to putrid sludge. You’re better than this! Maybe rather than typing something five seconds after you hear it, go to sleep, reflect, pray, think for God’s sake. Discuss it with family, with friends, on the phone or in person where you have time to make a real argument, and where your words can be forgotten if they weren’t worth speaking.
It’s free speech, but can we all agree that all that is permissible is not all good? We all want to help those in grief, and to make this a better nation, but we accomplish more by faith, and prayer, and thought, than we do by a lack of thinking. Rather than saying we need guns in the schools, talk to your friends, your neighbors, and your PTA about how you can make your school safer. We can use this tragedy to make things better. Unspeakable evil can be countered, can be used for good.
Let’s remember a little old wisdom, think before you speak. And tweet, and meme, and like, and share. And let’s take the time to make real change, in our nation and in ourselves.