I struggle with writing this blog entry. Back in August, I wrote about about personal brands and traits of people that make me loyal to them or want to steer clear of them. It got a good number of likes and comments and it’s absolutely true to my heart. These weren’t exactly the seven deadly sins, but were more about what I think it takes to have mutually respectful relationships in today’s world. They’re items on my own personal list which makes them my perspective. And perspective is key here. One of my biggest problems is with people who have unfaltering agendas that are one-sided. I’ve felt that through the election, many people I know showed a lack of perspective for “the other side”. I have friends at both ends of the spectrum and that time was like watching Congress argue to no avail while people who were more centrist would voice an opinion or two but get drowned out.
That seems like it’s somewhat par for the course today. I had some friends who made comments that many of the posts were excessive and there were a few who unfriended and a few who were hidden in news feeds. Nobody was convinced of any new positions that I’m aware of. I don’t think there were even many eyebrows raised or new ideas. It was just the same points of view shown over and over with numbers supporting whatever was being said. And I attempted to stay out of it for the most part because there was no case for even arguing. It was just a fact of life that politics was going to be polarizing. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Unsatisfying. Unfortunate. The people with agendas were shouting over those who didn’t and could see merit in both platforms.
Last weekend something happened that was polarizing as well. Only it shouldn’t have been. It should have been a time when people woke up, got together, and understood that something needed to change. I’m talking about the school shootings in Newtown, CT. What I thought would happen are more reactions like Winthrop basketball coach Pat Kelsey’s. This country has seen recent tragedies such as the Aurora shootings, the Virginia Tech massacre, the DC sniper incidents, and more. They’ve come so often of late that we start to become numb to them. Then there was this incident. Watch Kelsey’s video. It’s a man who voted Republican who is behind President Obama and demanding change publicly. Because this is tragic.
I did see lots of people sharing pictures of teachers who were heroes. I saw images of kids. I saw Victor Cruz, a receiver for the Giants, dedicate the game to a child who’d been killed who apparently was a huge fan of his. But I also saw posts like this one. The day after those teachers and children were killed. And it made me sick.
I also saw people who didn’t go as far as Mike Huckabee, but who thought God in the schools was the answer. I’m not sure if people think that school prayer will do away with mental illness or if having the Ten Commandments posted in the school will keep killers outside like garlic staying a vampire. Either viewpoint really doesn’t seem very realistic to me. Maybe I’m simplifying things, but I think that’s what it boils down to.
Both of these sets of people are ignoring how others feel and taking slanted views which promote their own agendas. The gun lobby, in particular, is guilty. The NRA’s groundbreaking answer is armed guards in schools. And I suppose we would need armed guards in movie theaters. Plus at every gas station and highway to prevent incidents like the DC snipers? I’m sorry, but the idea just doesn’t hold water. It merely comes across as an excuse to produce and distribute more firearms which is, of course, their agenda. There was no acknowledgement that the petitions for change in gun control in the last week are the biggest ever on the White House’s site.
Of those who want more God in school, there’s a couple groups. One is like Mike Huckabee who I’m going to tag with the agenda label. The other is, in general, well meaning and trying to make sense of this horrible event by clinging to what causes them comfort. I get it. It’s understandable. I see where you’re coming from. But it treads on the rights of athiests, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and even other groups of Christians who worship differently. Look at it from the eyes of children who will end up being ostracized by what amounts to state-sponsored religion. It’s equivalent to telling others that your way of gaining comfort and clinging to morals is the right way. And it’s not going to cure or treat mental illness or keep the boogeyman out.
I couldn’t take the whole thing so I simply had to stop watching it and having the arguments. I was absolutely dismayed that such an event would entrench people into their own beliefs. They believed that their answer was THE answer without middle ground. People gripe all the time about the government not accomplishing anything because of extreme partisanship. But look in the mirror. Look at yourselves. Is there a hot button you have that you haven’t considered both sides of? Does it seem like it is the solution to more problems than it really should? Are you looking at that answer through someone else’s eyes? There’s no meeting in the middle when your agenda is absolute and there is no empathy for others.
You made it this far. This is my closing point. Take the chance to reevaluate yourself and your beliefs. Not just once, but often. There is no real discourse with agendas that are hard and fast. There is no progress. Problems stay problems and the interests of those willing to compromise are not served. Have some empathy and flexibility and start making the world a better place one person at a time.