I make no apology for my silence.
I have been angry. I have been hurt. I have cried a little. I've been thinking, trying to figure it all out, and I'm very distrustful of the people who are telling me they have the answers.
Most recently and most pointedly, the above relates to gun violence and gun laws in the United States. I live very close to Newtown, Connecticut. You must know what that means. What you might not realize is that, as a friend tweeted a little over a month ago, there are no six degrees of separation here. Everyone I know either knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who was, and likely remains, deeply affected by the school shooting at Sandy Hook.
So emotions are raw. Still. Pro-gun and Second Amendment activists passionately argue that the source of the problem is not the guns, but countless other issues. Anti-gun and Second Amendment restructurists passionately argue that acces to guns enables those countless issues to efficiently inflict irreparable damage on our society and our citizens, from the guiltiest to the most innocent.
I'm not going to argue either side. Not here.
I have my own issues with guns. But then, I have issues with high fructose corn syrup which arguably contributes to many more deaths in a year across a broader spectrum of the population. I have issues with health insurance and the current system of delivering health care in this country, which lags last behind every industrialized nation for preventable deaths in spite of spending more on healthcare (as a % of our GDP) than any nation on the planet bar one. I have issues with our approach to climate change, fuel dependency, and waste. And education — I have big issues with education.
I have issues.
My greatest issue, however, is with simplicity — the notion that any of these topics is simple enough to be addressed with a simple solution. That one cause begets one effect (and further, that moving forward we should choose — de rigueur — the cause or action which begets the most immediate and evidently pleasing effect or result, as if no other result or effect will come after).
Apologies if crassness may offend, but one need only to pee into a toilet bowl to be reminded that any one drop produces infinitely expanding ripples.
It is possible to overthink. Sure. Analysis can, in fact, lead to paralysis. But rarely (if ever) have I seen too much thought produce ill-effects on the scale which too little thought does daily.
Listening is more than waiting until it's your turn to speak. It is not only considerate; it's consideration — contemplation, analysis, scrutiny, and thought. It is letting go of the rock and taking the boat out into unfamiliar waters. It's our chance to be braver and better than we are.
I don't have a simple answer to gun violence in America. Or healthcare. The debt. Education. Obesity. Climate change. Religious freedom, or even the Chicago Cubs. But I'm pretty sure you don't either. Can we be okay with that? It might give us a chance to get started.
Before I go, there's one thing that does stick with me from December...
Look again, briefly, at Newtown and the twenty-six victims of that incident. And now look again. Is it so hard to remember and recognize that twenty-eight people died that day? That in addition to the twenty angels and six unsuspecting heroes, there was also a mother and a woefully ill son? They may not fit either argument, but then neither argument really fits the thing itself.
Truth has an unfriendly habit of not caring about what any of us would like.