Image from 2018 KY3 report of SGF downtown event on the SGF Square

Everything is UX: March For Life

UX is creating an immediate solve for the needs of various use cases by constructing an environment that delivers in line with the big picture goal. This is best done through finding the answer to the problem for each user’s need state, which often hides behind the question behind the question behind the question.

I happened into the March For Life event in my home town on Saturday. I saw signs made with love, care, fear, purpose and action. I saw an event that was passionate, reactive and possibly leading to short-sighted, problematic changes. We’re driven today by select headlines, tweets, memes, social snippets and breaking news scrollers under news commentary. We’re emotional creatures with little time to dig for detail and big hearts for caring for those around us.

While searching for stats, I found a USA Today article that cautions against accepting school shooting statistics as presented and without context in headlines and snippets. It offers the following perspective. It states that among the 290 school shootings since the catastrophic Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, nearly half were completed or attempted suicides, accidental discharges of a gun, or shootings with not a single individual being injured. Of the remainder, the vast majority involved either one fatality or none at all. These are terrible. Every one a tragic loss. But to objectively look at the stats, the loss of life is minuscule when compared to something as seemingly benign as texting while driving, which kills our youth daily. Daily.

USA Today, Feb. 19, 2018: School shootings are not the new normal, despite statistics that stretch the truth

The article’s author, James Fox, details further, “For all those who believe that schools are under siege like never before, it is instructive to take a statistical road trip back in time.

“Since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at elementary and secondary schools in which two or more people were killed, not counting those perpetrators who committed suicide.

“Whereas five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland), the latter half of the 1990s witnessed seven multiple-fatality shootings with a total of 33 killed (13 at Columbine).”

I’m conflicted. I’ll give you a few perspectives about what leaves me being able to take a position on both sides of this dialogue, which leaves me with little resolve to support swift and drastic gun legislation changes. I think much thought and intention needs to be considered to future-proof any and all legislation that will have any impact on rights protected by the 2nd Amendment for our citizens. The 2nd Amendment is simple for a reason. As soon as an otherwise inalienable right is sliced and diced in its allowances and restrictions, the interpretations of those details allow anyone with power to affect a gradual mutation of that right’s allowances, which can eventually undermine the core purpose of protecting that right in the first place.

Do we need to stop our kids from killing each other? Yes.

Do we need to avoid undermining a valuable constitutional amendment that is meant to maintain the balance of power for the long haul? Also, yes.

Do we know the solution that protects both, yet? No. I don’t. I expect that you don’t. I know our government representation doesn’t.

Let’s recognize that kids are mostly idiots. Passionate, awesome, potential-filled, idiots that are packed to the gills with conflicting hormones, and social ineptitude. All, while testing social postures on one another in the cultural petri dish that we call High School. They are looking for attention, validation, support, independence, and with often misguided actions they flail about to find these things. Where do they learn what to do to get that attention? Their brains are sponges. They absorb what they see and apply it to their youthful paradigm of what society expects of them. A very, very tiny percentage may grab hold of a school shooting action as a possible tool to gain social credit, value, or recognition — positive or negative.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he discusses an epidemic of suicidal hanging by the youth of a country that is exacerbated by news coverage of those acts. By reducing the sensationalized glorification of the individuals through the media, they reduced over time the number of youth that saw this as an option for getting the attention — positive or negative — that they craved. Is this something worth considering for the coverage of school shootings? Should we really go into a heroic expose of the shooter, ask the reasons why they are the victim, and spend the next two months sensationalizing the violent, desperate acts of a kid with a firearm? How many other kids are involuntarily opened up subconsciously or consciously to this being an option for their own quest for validation and attention?

I appreciate the marches and demonstrations and our right to have them. I agree that there should be an effort to avoid this type of crime. I also recognize that hasty actions and passionate cries for change are fear-based and reactive. I have a feeling, because of certain stories I’ve read, that there is a conscious effort by a few to drive this forward, to create momentum and a bandwagon, for the passionate to climb onto. With messaging (like the secret meme lab) driven by backroom groups that have a goal for change, it activates my distaste for intelligent manipulation of the passionate populace. I’m in advertising and marketing tech. I know how this works, getting people motivated through a narrative, and how it looks the same whether it is being used for the good of the few or the good of the many, or the good of the day, or the good of the future.

My limited exposure to legislative bodies, and the responsibilities that they bear, has revealed a phrase that resonated with me over time. An advisor in the room with a municipal candidate said to be careful because, “All laws have teeth.” He went on to explain that these teeth will bite down. Sometimes as intended, and sometimes, in the distant future, leveraged in a way never intended as drafted through a short-sighted lens, that undermines the interest of the represented and heading in a direction unhealthy for all. When we self-govern without patience and a futurist’s perspective, we run the risk of losing sight of historical cycles and human nature. The farther you want to look into the future, the farther you need to look into the past for an informed perspective on humanity.

The 2nd Amendment isn’t about having a gun in case you want to go deer hunting. It isn’t even primarily about being able to hold a defensive position in your living room in the case of a break-in by an armed intruder. The 2nd Amendment is a check and balance of power. A bolt action deer rifle isn’t power today. An AR-15 or an AR-10 is power in the right hands, and for the most part just needs to securely sit locked in the closet of every household where healthy, capable adults reside. This is a 100 year protection of the power of the people to govern themselves against enemies of the citizens, both foreign and domestic.

This perspective isn’t clear for a person looking at a headline of today or a life plan that covers a 10 or 20 year span. This is a perspective that was held intimately by those putting in place the Constitutional structure, where threats of oppression, enslavement and subjugation were sitting just off their shores and recently battled through in their immediate history. This is foreign to us. To most of us this is an impossibility. But our social structure is fragile. We’re still human. On other continents today, unarmed communities, states, races, cultures and countries are beaten up, shot, killed and controlled by others with power. Not because of a huge disconnect. But because of the fragility of kindness within our humanity.

Yes, vote. Vote in a way that protects our youth, yes. And most importantly, vote in a way that is historically aware, considers the big picture, seeks long term sustainability, isn’t only considering fear and shelter to protect. We must consider the current wellness of our youth, but also their futures, and that of their kids’ kids. This means be sure that your vote also considers our tendency as a people to vote ourselves into corners that leave little choice, fragile balance of power and compromised freedom. Passionate calls for swift change often present choices between polarized, short-sighted options that are fear-based and reactive. The answer is subtle. We need to know the answers to the question behind the question behind the question behind the question. Digging deep is critical. Wise, future-looking legislation is the goal.

Take the main point, that we have to be careful what laws we enact in response to these tragic actions. Because regarding the importance of something as critical as a 2nd amendment provision of a country’s constitution we need the awareness that as soon as interpretation of a complex rule set becomes subjective, power can begin to shift. It will happen slowly and imperceptibly at first. It may take a decade to be visible, or a century for the evolution to alter a nation’s balance of power. That’s why you have to think like a futurist for laws like this. Ten years is nothing. “What will this lead to in one hundred years?”, is the question we should keep in mind.

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