I have a confession to make: when I described the Focusing Effect in last week’s blog, I did not fully appreciate its power over me. The problem of 40,000 deaths a year by car accidents was out of focus and it should be in focus.
I looked up Jeny’s hometown and found it has a population of 41,000. Year after year the population of Hutchinson Kansas is wiped out by traffic deaths. In the U.S., an average of 109 people a day die from traffic accidents. WOW!! Our daughter died in a traffic accident. I should be more aware of the statistics, but I was not focused on the enormity of the problem.
The spread of death over time and space is far less emotional than several deaths at the same time in the same space
I heard from several of you about the Focusing Effect in your lives. One pointed out our insensitivity to violent gun deaths spread out over time and cities.
A nurse gave an example of the Focusing Effect from her personal experiences. She was close to two big tragedies. The first was the fall of a hotel balcony killing 114 injuring 216. All of the victims were from the same community. Everyone in town knew someone, who knew someone, who was related to a victim or a first responder. The focus and the emotions were very intense.
The second was a plane crash with 136 fatalities. The victims were from all over the United States. She was struck with how reduced the focus and emotional intensity were in the second situation. Even though more people died in the plane crash, because they were from all over the country, the focus was dispersed. Less focus, less emotional attachment.
Great examples, excellent understanding of the Effect—Thanks for sharing.
Mass Shootings in Perspective
The public outcry about mass shootings continues, we should do what we can to promote dialog over diatribe. As thoughtful educated people we should be leaders in dialog not ostriches with our heads buried in the sand. We cannot control the press or the politicians but we can adopt a proper perspective, consider what we think to be important for a proper dialog, and then enter into it with friends and families.
On both sides of the issue I have several serious considerations I consider important for a proper dialog.
For conservatives I have several issues for thoughtful consideration:
First, the Constitution says I have the right to keep and bear arms, it does not say any and all arms. Nothing in the Constitution says we cannot limit the arms. Therefore, to me, having limits to the type of arms does not seem to violate our constitution.
Second, the official policy of the United States is to limit arms. We went to war, and are currently near war, in our attempt to limit arms in other countries. I know for sure I do not want my neighbor to have nuclear arms. Therefore, it seems to me, whether or not to limit arms is not an issue. How much to limit arms is the important issue.
Third. I have no problem with my neighbor owning a pistol, shotgun or an “ordinary” rifle. I do not know a civilian who needs a gun that shoots multiple rounds in a short amount of time for any positive reason. What is a healthy, lawful reason a person needs a multiple round gun?
If I wanted to shoot a machine gun for fun, I would suggest having licensed sites where I could go and shoot for fun, without the guns being in the hands of the general public.
For liberals, I have several considerations:
First, the extreme call for legislation has a ring of emptiness when I consider the effect of legislation on driving deaths We educate, we legislate laws about speeding, laws about distracted driving, we license, we restrict and still year after year the population of Hutchinson Kansas dies on our highways. What would make me think we will be more successful with gun legislation?
Second, what is the evidence regarding areas that increased gun control? Has legislation successfully reduced mass shootings and killing?
Third, I am not a clinical psychologist, but to my common sense view, anyone who takes a gun and kills multiple innocent people, is a brick or two, shy of a load. Shouldn’t we pay some attention to mental health as a predictor of problems? Just because it is a right-wing diatribe focus doesn’t make it wrong.
I hope you can see my intent—dialog, gaining a balanced understanding of a very important issue.
If you have thoughts please feel free to share them. I will listen.
A Christian View
The old saying is guns do not kill people; people do. It follows that cars do not kill people, people do. I know some people use the first statement to argue for a cause. Without making that argument I do think it is important to recognize, there is a grain of truth in both statements. We would have fewer deaths from mass shootings and fewer deaths from traffic accidents, if people behaved differently.
We may make some behavioral changes by legislation, but the best possibility for change is to have people put their hearts in the right places. The truth is, if everyone handled guns and drove cars by putting others before (or at least equal to) themselves, we would have fewer deaths. The important question is what will lead people to put others before themselves? I do not believe legislation is as effective as a faith walk.
Christians are all familiar with the great commandment, Mark 28:24: God, others, self. I should be mindful of others in all things: guns, driving, all things. I do not always do it, but that is my prayer for myself, my hope for all.
This week, try asking someone with a differing opinion what they think about gun control or some important issue. Listen, listen, listen, then encourage them to enter a dialog and have a go at it.
Let me know how it goes.
Until next time