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Let’s Talk About Human Rights — Seeking Conversation About Gun Rights and Violence

There is a responsibility to listen to the voices in Parkland; a tsunami of voices, opinions and screams and I believe it is my responsibility to listen. To deeply try to think this out.

And as I listen over the last many days, this song comes to me as a way to honor the lives lost (in Parkland, in Las Vegas, in Sandy Hook and the list is long). It is a song of lament (for translation of the song, see here), of reaching out, of this elemental authenticity of what matters to all of us. In the listening, as a parent, as a human being, as a member of American society, I utterly believe is an obligation on my part to understand and act.

Obligation is an interesting emotion… I think Amy Lowell speaks for me. And perhaps in that emotion, for all of us is the start of the necessary conversation.

The conversation can only begin if there is a presentation on the stage of facts. So here is one. And yes, we all have biases so let us recognize them and account for them… Daniel Kahneman is a good guide in the darkness. And if you do get to the promised land of seeing through the haze the intricacies of human history then the conversation starts becoming real (for a massively valuable but lengthy listen, you gotta to make time for this). It starts becoming alive.

The conversation is also an examination of the dualities of what our American society believes or thinks it believes. And it begins (and perhaps ends…) with the Second Amendment. If we are to talk about well regulated militias, should it be a question of context or history or both? Or as a way to see through the cacophony of talking heads, maybe the conversation to evolve to an idea exchange of societal violence and our role in the virulent spread of this human toxicity.

And the way to defang the toxicity is to ensure that the discussion of self defense by gun right advocates is antithetical to the functional basis of a democracy known as the social contract. Because if the self defense argument is to be acceptable it has to reside in fact, and data which demonstrates that this argument is invalid. And if it is perspective that is necessary, then as members and leaders of our professional and personal communities, we should seek an examination of those perspectives. I am seeking it. Respectfully. Intentionally.

For the intentional participant and seeker in and of the conversation, the political computation of universal background checks are elementary; we as a society find ourselves paralyzed into inaction. Worse we blind ourselves to data that clearly shows no relationship between background check laws and the rate of violent crime exist. And yet our elected representatives yammer on trying to score points by trying to woefully articulate that they really want to do something… as ineffectual, erroneous and faulty as that may be.

And in that craving for something to record, to show, to proclaim, the conversation we are all begging for gets obfuscated by the fact that the data suggests that prevention focused on mental health is not the totality of the answer that is sought or needed. It is not. It is definitely not. It is most certainly not.

So we have to drive towards decisions. And intention, focus and attention to enable those decisions.

If we are to have an obligation to each other, to the democracy at hand, and to the sustainability of a society that carries the DNA of ideals which make us whole, then I believe we have to see the entire issue of gun rights and gun violence as one of human rights. And in the clearing where revelation takes place, the other is you, we are the other and our rights as individuals is defined by our rights as humans. And in that right is a ban on weapons that are available and used to wantonly kill humans.

These are our human rights that requires deep contemplation, conversation and understanding.

To demand those human rights, in our democracy, there is one way: Vote. Vote for your representative who believes in what you believe in.

And in that vote, lies our obligation to our kids.

A while back when I was talking to my mother about what it means to be a parent to me, she said, “Remember when I used to say that it is all for the kids and you didn’t have a clue then… well, now you do and I am very proud that you understand what I said.”

So, yes, it is for the kids. And this song by Damien Rice is for you.

You have my word that I will do all I can to honor your voice. And the conversation.