I don't usually use my blogs for political or societal commentary posts. It's not who I am and besides, I much prefer to make people laugh. So if you want a laugh, I promise to put up a funny blog on What Passes for Sane on a Crazy Day. But on this blog, on this day, I need to let some frustration out.
Except for checking my birthday greetings (thank you so much, everyone), I didn't really get on FB much Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I didn't have time, I didn't have WI-fi, and I was busy being mistaken for a fugitive. But I'm glad I didn't. I saw a few posts that upset me greatly and I'm glad I had the chance to process what I wanted to say before I had the chance to actually say it. I wish more people would make that a habit.
So here's the thing... what happened in Connecticut is awful. It makes me want to curl up in a ball and give up on the world. My heart goes out to those families. I can't imagine losing a child at all, much less to an act of senseless violence. It makes me want to change things. It makes me want to mend our country so that we don't breed monsters who slaughter innocent children. What it doesn't make me want to do is blame everyone else. It doesn't make me want to say "if you disagree with my opinion, we are no longer friends." So why does it make so many people want to do just that?
I saw so many gun control posts, so many "if you don't agree, you're a moron" and "if you don't agree with me, I'll think less of you" posts. Really? So now it's wrong to have a differing opinion? Does anyone truly believe that their political posts are going to change our country? It's that attitude, that pervasive "mine, and people who agree with me, is the only RIGHT opinion" that's carrying this once great nation to hell in a hand basket. What happened to respecting others, what happened to intelligent discourse on a subject, what happened to compromise? Not one of you is a damned expert on the subjects you were so rigorously mouthing off about. Not one. So what makes yours the right opinion? The most intelligent opinion? And how dare you say that if I disagree I'm a moron? Or that you'll think less of me? How dare you?!
I have a very good friend that I've known since high school. Though she's moved all over the country and we haven't always lived in close proximity, we've remained as close as sisters. Our political views couldn't be more opposite. We agree on almost nothing in the political scheme of things. And yet, I don't love her any less for this. Because I respect her right to not agree with me. I respect her intelligence and integrity. I know that we have had different life experiences which have caused us to develop different perspectives and perceptions. We live in different places, with different problems. We agree to disagree without disrespecting each other. We engage in intelligent, non-combative discourse. Sometimes, we even begin to think the other may have a point. That's what adults with a modicum of intelligence and respect do. They don't scream their hatred for people who think differently than they do on a social media site. They don't try to place blame squarely in their opponent's laps. They look in the mirror and evaluate their own actions and realize that they may share some of the blame for a country in desperate need of new legislation and attention to what's lacking.
*The next part is my opinion only. And if it makes you think I'm a moron, or you think less of me for it, well, feel free to unfriend me, never work with me again, or whatever punishment you deem necessary. Chances are, I won't give a f*ck.*
I live in a house with guns. My husband, son, and son-in-law all hunt. So we have shotguns and rifles. We also have a hand gun, which I enjoy shooting at targets. And I'm a damn good shot. I don't want to kill anything with it. But if I was forced to, I would defend my family and my home. If I didn't have a gun, I'd use a knife, or any other weapon I could find. I believe I have the right to own those guns. Does this mean I'm anti-gun control? Yes and no. I believe we need different legislation. I don't believe anyone should be able to purchase a gun without a background check. I don't believe anyone other than the military needs an assault rifle or automatic weapons. I believe everyone should have to take classes in gun safety and handling before they own a gun. I believe that like we do in Illinois, you should have to have a firearm owner's ID in order to purchase a gun or ammo. But I also understand the fear of many gun owner's that once gun laws are passed, it will open the door to taking away our arms completely. That's where that forgotten word "compromise" enters the equation.
I also don't think that new gun legislation is going to solve the problem. Not unless it's accompanied by better mental health care in the United States. Because honestly, guns don't kill people. Crazies with guns kill people. And until we have more options for the treatment of mentally ill people, better health care systems for them, and more intelligent discourse on the subject, nothing's going to change. You can take away their guns, but you can't take away their harmful intent. In China, where gun ownership is illegal, a man attacked school children with a knife. He didn't manage to kill any, just maim them. The point is, if a mentally ill person wants to hurt others, they will. And even one death is too many.
So, better gun legislation, intelligent discussion, better options for the treatment of the mentally ill? Sounds like a good start. And I haven't blamed anyone. There are other things that I think would help solve some of the problems of the society we're living in, and I could place blame on one side of the political forum for those problems, but the fact is, we're all responsible and neither side is all right, or all wrong. We need to remember that this country was founded on the right to be different. The right to have an opinion that's maybe not popular. We were founded on the freedom to think for ourselves. So let's the stop the blame game and the screaming and the name calling. Instead, let's turn our hearts and minds to mending our nation. Because it's broken, guys. And the duct tape will only hold it for so long.