Of the many observations I gleaned from the Uvalde massacre, my first was cognitive bias. I discussed that topic last week. Today’s observation is a second topic, one that deeply concerns me.
Divisiveness. “Us vs Them” is tearing at the fabric of our society. In our divided nation both sides prefer “Us vs. Them” over solutions, evidence and common sense. People on both sides of arguments continue to find fault with “Them,” Each side continues to ignore the faults in “Us.” Both sides continue to engage in diatribe and avoid dialog.
The extremes on both sides engage in demeaning and highly derogatory descriptions of the other side.
The extremes call for the elimination of the other side.
The extremes believe if their side does not win America is doomed.
When both sides have their view as the only answer the fabric of America is being shredded and we may be doomed by the divisiveness.
Predictable. When Uvalde occurred the self-righteous “Us vs. Them” ignited both sides. One side proposes the only solution is gun control and the right-wing is the problem. Many ignore or minimize personal responsibility and human values in the problem.
The other side is against any gun controls stressing guns don’t kill, people do. Many ignore the fact that some gun controls reduce killing. Some extreme people believe attempts to disarm “Us” are so “Them” can take over the country.
No compromise. No dialog. Self-righteous diatribe. “Us vs Them” and both sides believe “Us” is the only way.
My present concern is not with which side is correct. I think both have important points. My concern is we should work together toward solutions rather than engage in antagonism, divisiveness and hatred. My concern is the self-righteous divisiveness.
My point is not which side is right, but that the inability to dialog, to compromise, to tell what “THEM” is right about and what is wrong with “US” is destroying our nation. I know there are many factors in our divisiveness, but I believe single-minded self-righteousness is a major one. People who are often wrong but never uncertain are driving the extremes. The name-calling, demeaning of “THEM” on both sides is fueling our nations anger.
Certainly, our politicians, the internet and media are adding fuel to the divisive fire.
My way of stating my concern is – “US vs. THEM will be the end of US if we do not learn to think WE.”
Martin Luther King expressed my concern very well. “We must learn to live together as brothers (I would add sisters) or we will perish together as fools.”
Both sides have points. How can I say I think there are strengths on both sides? For discussion purposes, I use an obvious analogy.
Sometimes the failure of a car or tires may be a cause of deaths. However, much of the time, human error caused the death of over 40,000 people last year. For the most part, we recognize cars don’t kill, people do. People drive without respect for others’ lives, without respect for others’ property and without respect for the law. They drive too fast, too close, impaired and in other violations of the law.
If legislation, licensing, and education completely solved problems then we would not have over 40,000 people a year die from car accidents. We have laws for cars and for drivers. We have age, insurance and other requirements for licenses. We require driver’s education. Despite the imposition of those factors over 40,000 people a year die from automobile accidents.
The restrictions have not eliminated vehicle deaths. However, even though the number of annual deaths has increased, with increased restrictions the number of deaths per miles driven has decreased. I recognize the need for some restrictions, otherwise we would have even larger problems and a higher death total. I can’t imagine the carnage if we removed all driving restrictions.
Controls help but in addition I know the death total would be greatly reduced if people gained respect for life, for property and for the rule of law. In other words, BOTH are best; we need controls AND changes in people’s attitudes and behavior.
Just as with the driving situation, clearly, we would have fewer gun deaths if we would solve the reasons people are not respecting the lives and property of others and are disregarding the rule of law. People, not guns, kill. The rabid anti-gun people need to acknowledge and highlight the fact the personal attitudes and behavior not guns are the necessary conditions for killing.
Just as in the analogy, I also believe having some restrictions on guns can reduce mass killings. I clearly understand restrictions will reduce — not eliminate mass shootings.
I personally do not believe having restrictions is a violation of the Second Amendment as long as people are allowed to keep and bear arms. We already have laws against felons bearing arms. We already outlaw certain weapons. Restricting some arms and restricting some conditions of ownership does not prevent the right to keep and bear arms. It does restrict the right to keep and bear any and all arms.
I have read the Second Amendment. I am certain it reads I have the right to keep and bear arms, but it does not say I have the right to keep and bear any and all arms at any age. I think to argue for any and all arms is to go beyond what the Constitution states in writing. Ironically, to go beyond the written word of the Constitution is not a position usually taken by conservatives.
Learning. I encourage everyone to talk with people with different opinions. I meet every week with a group of friends who are more conservative than I am. This week I asked them about guns. I learned from the discussion.
One of my good friends spent his career as a probation officer and in related positions. Listening to him I could better understand his position. He is against gun restrictions because he does not believe they will stop the criminal element he saw every day in his work. That element will find ways around any and all restrictions. He was in touch with an element of society from which I and most people are sheltered. Gun restrictions will not deter that segment of our society from killing if they want to kill.
I also learned more about guns. What the media portrays as an assault rifle is not an assault rifle. The AR 15 is a very deadly gun but is not an assault rifle because it does not fire automatically. It fires one shot at a time with each pull on the trigger.
I learned high-capacity semiautomatic weapons have been around for a long time. The Winchester 1907 was manufactured from 1907 to 1957. During those years, we did not have the problems with mass shooting we face today. The absence of problems, with the availability of the gun, adds credence to the argument something has changed in the values of our society that needs to be addressed. People kill, not guns.
I firmly believe we must address the changes in personal values. But I also believe, because the changes in our values have occurred, some regulations would help reduce, not eliminate, the shootings.
I also strongly believe divisiveness is a major contributor to the increase in disrespect for others, for others’ property and the rule of law. I encourage everyone to look for ways to fight against the divisiveness that is tearing our society apart. Have coffee with friends with different views on our world — and listen.
I saw a report of Hope Chicago on 60 Minutes. Pete Kadens and Theodore Koenig started using their resources to help low-income people gain an education. I was touched by their story. The report and their web page are given below:
Another wealthy person using her resources for good.
Encouragement for the elderly.