If People Are The Problem

Last Tuesday most of us had stopped obsessing over the previous most awful mass shooting, and if you’re anything like I am, you may not remember what that was. Then, on Wednesday, it happened again. And suddenly everybody was horrified all over again. And we started the all-too-familiar pattern of grieving over something so awful.

How awful? Umpteen people killed and many others wounded, thousands directly affected and millions around the world touched in some way. A bunch of innocent people, including kids, gunned down in a public school simply for being there.

This scenario is painful even in the retelling, partly because we’ve all been through it so much, so many times, in so many variations. These days a big part of the way we cope with life is by sharing our thoughts and feelings online via social media and other venues (like this blog).

Well, here we are again.

Fifty years after Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down, one by a hunting rifle and the other by a small handgun, we’re now seeing Americans gunned down wholesale by weapons that were originally designed for the battlefield.

And fifty years later people are still offering some variation of the tired old “guns don’t kill people, people do.” One stranger online said simply “People are the problem, not guns.”

This, to me, seems like a truly ridiculous position, because it is patently obvious that a person with a weapon is more dangerous than a person without one. Some weapons are a lot more dangerous than others. People have long debated whether anyone should have certain types of weapons or be able to use them, even in war.

People with guns kill a lot more people than people without guns.

So what about the people kill people part of this? What do we do with that? Since people have always killed people, do we simply say “Oh well” and move on? No thank you. Asserting that people are killers, always have been and always will be, is not a call to action, it’s a call to resignation. There’s nothing you can do. It’s always been this way, I have a right to my gun, get over it.

Not so fast.

Whatever your position on the 2nd Amendment, it’s pretty difficult to imagine that unregulated, armed mayhem is what the founders were trying to create. For one thing, the 2nd Amendment itself acknowledges the necessity of a well regulated militia. For another, the founders laid out their goals for the Constitution in its very first paragraph:

“…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

Does the above, in any way, sound like an argument for an America in which we are constantly struggling with keeping anyone safe from fellow countrymen armed with ever more lethal weapons? Will we continue to be an America that is paralyzed into inaction by a tortured reading of the very document that was intended to make us united, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous and free?

If people are the problem, we are also the solution. It starts with rejecting the view that there is nothing we can do. Solving this problem requires getting past the dodge that the problem is someone else’s to solve. Who is responsible for making this work? We are.

The Oracle Speaks

Another Blog? Really?

Does the world really need another blog? Well, the world needs something.

There are a lot of blogs in the world — something like a hundred million, if what I read today is to be believed. OK, this is not an original idea. So why am I doing it, and more important to you, why should you read it?

I’ve been on Facebook since early 2009 or so, and I posted a ton of stuff there. Most of it was public. Recently I’ve done a lot of rethinking my Facebook experience and my approach to it. And Facebook is good for what Facebook is, but…

  • Facebook is built around commonality. We’re Facebook friends with people we know and/or people with whom we share some interest. Fine, so far. But there’s a reason that people refer to social media sites as echo chambers: we’re going for “likes”. Yes, I want to write something that people want to read, but like it? We tend to like what we agree with. We click like and our “friend” (who may be someone we’ve never met or haven’t seen in years) feels gratified and we keep reinforcing our biases and rewarding people who do that.
  • Facebook is built for brevity. You have to keep it short, or no one will read it. Can you develop a well-reasoned argument in a single, brief paragraph? Most people can’t. Some things take time.
  • Facebook is great for starting a fight, but lousy for finding resolution. Example: I say that posting a flag-waving profile picture at this time is offensive. Someone else says it’s something worse. And yet another says that his mom has one of those profile pics and, hey, that’s my mom you’re talking about! Argue, unfriend, block, fume…
  • Facebook encourages participation, but a lot of people don’t work and play well with others, at least sometimes.
  • Facebook was designed to be addictive and to keep us online as often and as long as possible – with Mark Zuckerberg and company watching everything we do, all the time. Facebook encourages us to give up all sorts of information about who we are and what we like (and dislike) so they and their advertisers can show us what we want to see.

So, this ain’t Facebook. I get to develop a thought, hopefully in a reasonable amount of space, but it takes as long as it takes. I’ll try to make it worthwhile for both of us.

Sometimes the world feels overwhelming, like what’s the point? Well the point is, here we are. Where do we want to be? How do we get there?

That’s why I’m doing this. Sound worthwhile? I hope so.

I have no idea what I’m doing as far as the mechanics of a site are concerned. In the dim and distant past I was an “early adopter” and I worked for a long time as a computer tech. But I was never a webmaster or site admin, so I’ll be figuring this out as I go.

The opinions expressed here are those of the person(s) expressing them.

Let’s go…