The First Step to Stopping School Shootings is to Stop Blaming Liberals & Conservatives
Another school shooting and the only thing that ever changes is that we become more desensitized to it. It’s so routine now it feels sickening how numb we are becoming and how unshocking kids being shot while sitting in their classrooms has become.
Who’s to blame? The problem and the answer lies within every single one of us. If after a school shooting you are finger pointing at liberals or conservatives instead of asking your neighbor to join you in working to stop school shootings you are part of the problem. You have been manipulated into tribal warfare at the expense of our children’s lives.
Our children are a reflection of us, our society, and they are screaming at us that they are sick, but we are too angry with each other to hear them. We, the adults, behave like children having temper tantrums. We are so angry with each other we can’t put aside our anger to save our children.
After every school shooting the response is the same, the left calls for gun control and gets angry at those gun-toting “crazy NRA” conservatives. The right digs in their heels to defend themselves and the second amendment and their freedom from “irrational liberals.” Nothing gets achieved.
We are supposed to be adults living in a democratic society. If you have forgotten what that means, that means when we have a major problem like kids being shot in classrooms, we start by finding our common ground and then work towards a solution. That’s the adult, rational, democratic way to solve our problems. We can never find a solution if we can’t even come to the table to talk with each other.
What does that look like? That means you pause on screaming for more gun control or pause on screaming for your second amendment rights and start screaming to stop school shootings. That is our common ground. Imagine what that would look like. Imagine if every single conservative or liberal started screaming “stop school shootings” and started organizing together. Imagine how powerful that would be.
Imagine if instead of marching for gun control we all got together and marched to stop school shootings. We could unify and create a tremendously powerful movement. Once we realize we all want the same thing and we come to the table with the same goal to stop mass shootings, we could put down our defenses and find a compromise.
Personally, I want better gun laws and better mental health services, but I’m willing to listen to conservative arguments for armed guards at schools or whatever ideas they have. I’m willing to compromise and try some of their ideas if they are willing to compromise and try some of my ideas. But we can’t compromise as long as we finger-point and yell at each other.
We can’t compromise if we start from the point of liberals wanting gun control and conservatives wanting armed guards, we have to come back to the baseline of wanting to stop school shootings. If we don’t start there, we stay stuck in our teams, and we won’t even talk to each other.
Please, please change the dialogue and the words you use. I know it may sound wishy-washy to say we must unify but I studied economics, and I believe in doing whatever works. Almost 20 years after Columbine it’s so glaringly clear that left versus right, my liberal agenda versus your conservative agenda is not working.
I was the angry liberal. I still am angry, but I don’t let anyone engage me in “tribal warfare” anymore. I am not going to rant and fight for gun control because I know it just pushes away my conservative friends. I am fighting to stop school shootings, and I want all of you, conservative and liberal to fight with me to stop school shootings.
The words we use and the dialogue we engage in matters. Every time you come up against this left versus right mentality, please join me in working to end it. If people use generalizations or stereotypes of conservatives or liberals around you, remind them people are complex and not stereotypes.
If you end up talking to someone about school shootings find your common ground first. Ask them if they want to stop school shootings, and let them know you do too. Ask them if they would be willing to compromise to stop school shootings and let them know you would be willing to compromise too. We can’t ask only one side to compromise.
I may not want armed guards in my schools, but I’m willing to try it if it means conservatives are willing to try my ideas too. We have to be willing to give a little; our kids lives are depending on it.