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Having Conversations, For a Change: About Guns and Other Things

Conversations. I’m thinking we need to have some. Not caps lock and bold screams. Not label and insult exchanges. Not simplistic repetitions of the same arguments and counter-arguments. Not quotes pulled from Founding Father types, or historical figures or presidents or celebrities or whoever, that “prove” our point, but get us no closer, and likely further away from, any real solutions.

I’m thinking of the whole gun regulation / Second Amendment thing, but we could plug in any number of subjects: the economy, unemployment, homelessness, global warming, abortion, LGBT equality, immigration reform, racism, sexism, religion and faith, etc.

We don’t have to stay stuck in either / or, right / wrong, us / them arguments. We could try talking with each other, focused on exploring possibilities and creating ideas and actions which address actual problems rather than attempts to win arguments. So many smart, good, caring people can do that kind of thing. Not quickly. Not easily. And not with anything close to a 100% participation. But it seems those kind of efforts would be a much better use of our time and energy and creativity and compassion than continuing to stay stuck in the same circle of arguments.

It doesn’t mean we abandon our convictions or beliefs or whatever. But could we at least stop pounding each other over the head with them? And stop acting as if we have only two choices — as defined by “Republican” or “Democratic”?

I do know I’m far from alone in wanting more conversations that can help bring about changes for the good of real people, not more arguments that perpetuate stereotypes, and a very unhealthy status quo.

To return to the current gun regulation issue, people are having conversations of a thoughtful kind. That shows up in, among other ways, a post from Taylor: CBS/NY Times Poll: 92% of Americans Support Universal Background Checks.

In spite of the extreme rhetoric, in spite of the repetition of very familiar arguments, it’s clear some serious listening and conversing and thinking are going on. I hope we hear more of that from We the People. Maybe that would help push the media and Electeds to join us.

(Want to Argue poster via Cindy’s FB Wall Photos)

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6 Responses to Having Conversations, For a Change: About Guns and Other Things

  1. Jane Austen January 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    You mean sane intelligent conversation? I had forgotten what that was and I am not being facetious. I haven’t heard a good honest to goodness debate in I don’t know how many years. Maybe that’s because everything is now in 15 second sound bites. We have all this wonderful media and what we get in so many instances is pure and simple nonsense. It’s as though we have forgotten how to be civil and dare I say it, human beings. What bothers me is we seem to harp on the same old topics; topics that inflame people to downright hatred. I care about those things that are going to make this a better country to live in and give everyone an opportunity to have a good future. Everyone has a right to live their lives as they see fit and I will defend that right. I just wish more people on the other side felt that way.

    • Joyce Arnold January 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      As always, well said, Jane :)

  2. Cujo359 January 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    If I just told you that there was a country where one “side” of an issue was merciless when their politicians strayed from supporting their issue, and the “other side” just let its politicians do whatever they wanted, and then asked you which side was likely to get its way, I think most of you would say, correctly, that the mean folks will win. That’s the reason there’s so much shouting. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but I’ll do it anyway:

    Shouting works. Fear works.

    That’s the problem. I’d bet that if the NYT/CBS poll had been taken before Sandy Hook, there would have been at least 70% support for background checks. Even before Columbine, had anyone dared to take a similar poll, there almost certainly would have been majority support, at least. I think that because my own position hasn’t changed all that much since those days, which is that guns would be a whole lot less of a problem if we weren’t letting criminals, mentally disturbed people, and damn fools use them. Most people I’ve talked to seem to agree with me on this, so unless I’m a whole lot more persuasive than I think I am, that’s something a majority of the people I know have thought for the last couple of decades. Since background checks are one way to keep guns out of the hands of at least the first two groups of people, you’d have to think that most would support them.

    Yet the NRA gets what it wants, because the NRA shouts. It instills fear in people, and in their politicians. Progressives, and anyone else who has a sane perspective on this issue, don’t.

    So, I’m afraid we’re going to continue to have these pointless arguments, because our politicians aren’t afraid of us, and we can’t seem to get other people to stop being afraid of them. Change either of those things, and maybe the conversations will get less repetitive.

    • DaGoat January 19, 2013 at 10:18 am #

      “Shouting works. Fear works.”

      I think it goes beyond political efficacy. When it comes to articles and discussions on the internet, people like extremism and conflict. The thoughtful articles get less attention than the fiery ones, and they usually generate less discussion.

      The popular blogs on both the right and left are set up similarly. Heroes and villains are designated, rigid beliefs are accepted as the norm, and anyone disagreeing with any part must be from the other side. This ignores of course that it makes little sense for any individual to agree with any other on all issues.

      A lot of people also seem to take comfort in just being in a large group of like-minded people and defending it against the perceived enemy, maybe analogous to rooting for a sports team.

      The bottom line is for most people it seems like conflict is more fun than polite conversation.

      • Cujo359 January 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

        “The bottom line is for most people it seems like conflict is more fun than polite conversation.”

        Unfortunately, there’s a lot of truth in that. I don’t know how to fix it, either. As we all know from Star Trek ( ;-) ), pure logic and thinking isn’t much use if it’s not spurred by some emotional need. An emotive argument in support of rational ideas can be a stirring thing, but emotion alone shouldn’t be enough. Too often, it is.

  3. Joyce Arnold January 19, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Thanks to Jane, Cujo and DaGoat for providing some actual conversation.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong