I've seen real people have reasonable conversations about guns in America. I've even seen people who support gun ownership agree with those who don't, on some basic changes to how we provide access to guns in our country.
Not long after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I had the opportunity to work with teachers from across the country, who used innovations in technology to come together as a community of problem-solvers, and choose real, actionable solutions to the scourge of guns and violence in our schools. It was inspiring to see this group of more than 300 teachers, gun owners and gun control advocates alike, work together with passionate focus on how to make our schools safer. They agreed to disagree about letting teachers have guns in school, but they also resolved, firmly and clearly, on the need for more limits on weapons of war. They also called for necessary changes in the way we treat mental health and teach problem solving in school, the kind of social and emotional growth we nurture in our children, and even better ways to design and build schools.
Reading the news about the student in Texas who was caught with an AK-47 and two handguns or the "Safe Carry Protect Law" enacted in Georgia, I think about those ordinary citizens who accomplish so much more than the talking heads in Washington. I can't help but react with the same internal monologue every time: All we need is a little more honesty. All we need is to listen a little harder, posture a little less, and be authentic. It's internal because it seems to me no one wants to hear anything about solving our problems with guns and horrible violence that kill too many American children -- whether they live in our worst pockets of poverty or our most placid communities. Sometimes, I don't see any reason to talk about it anymore.
In our connected world, points of view can be shouted and spread virally in the blink of an eye. But, is anyone actually listening? Is anyone interested in making change, or are we destined to an endless cycle of shouts and counter-shouts?
I think the vast majority of those of us living everyday lives in our neighborhoods would like to see change. Most of us, public servants included, are well intentioned and place more value on doing than on rhetoric and posturing. So, let's stop the cycle of spin and build networks for change. Technology gives us the tools, if we're each willing to do our individual part.
Isn't it time we all took a cue from those 300 teachers, and turned our attention to problem solving through careful listening?