If there is one thing the majority of people opining since last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Ct., myself included have in common, is that we have said a lot, spoken of what we like and don’t like about the current situation, and have offered no solution to the problem. Part of this is due to the fact that many of the responses are emotional, so in essence the comments are reactions and expressions of how we feel, and since the tragedy caused so many to feel strong emotions, it is easy to understand why this is happening. In this post however, I offer my solution, conceptually if nothing else. Where does the solution lie? It lies in the middle.
Let me start by saying something that may shock those who know me well. My views have somewhat changed in the past week. As a result of speaking with people, reading articles and posts, and watching news programs, I have moved somewhat away from my extreme view of wanting to ban guns from the common citizen. I have spoken with some very good people who own guns. The country does not become a better place by taking away their guns. I have read posts on social media outlets and articles in news agencies from people who are not angry or hateful people, who feel owning a gun is important to them and give every indication of being thoughtful people who know that guns are dangerous if misused or unaccounted for. The country does not get better by taking away their guns. I watched Bill O’Reilly a few days ago, and was impressed by the insistence of a well-known Republican celebrity and gun owner admitting that there is a problem and that something needs to be done. So now there is me, someone who has in the past made the statement that I question if the American people have lost their right to bear arms, thinking that the best answer may very well be one that allows people to continue to have that right. However, they may need to make some sacrifices to help improve the chances that others don’t end up making the ultimate sacrifice. I make no claim to know the technicalities of the current gun laws, but this post will not be dealing with technicalities, instead it will be dealing with a concept that I feel is critical to our civilizations survival.
I came up with my “solution” after going through a thought process brought on by a combination of factors. One factor was the attempt by lunatic organizations and the Iranian government to somehow connect Jews and even Israeli military to the shootings in Newton, Ct. It’s so insane that it’s gotten very little play outside the inner circles of those who fabricated the stories, but enough that many of us have heard it.
The next thing I considered was the situation between Israel, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. All reports indicate that tensions are now rising in the West Bank and that radical organizations are trying to get another Intifada started. The key and extremely important word there is “radical”.
I also read about those so-called religious leaders and organizations that blame the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary on the lack of God in the school and in our society, implying, sometimes saying outright that it is our behavior as people going away from God that caused this and other tragedies to happen, even those not caused by man directly, such as Hurricane Sandy.
The final thing that helped me come to my conclusion was the frustration of a good friend who, after looking at many of these issues, concluded that there appears to be no way to solve any of them. This was coming from an otherwise positive individual who was feeling tremendous frustration at the apparent futility of any of the answers provided by anyone out there with any influence.
So what is the answer? The answer lies in marginalizing extremists. Over the past week I have seen a very clear distinction, on both sides of the political spectrum, between those who attack policy and those who attack people. Those who without provocation attack the people who do not agree with them are always extremists in one way or another, while those who attack the issues are sometimes extremists, often not extremists, and generally not the problem. Although I believe that the influence by their leadership has caused a large percentage of Muslims to at best dislike Jews and Israel and be people who would not mourn the loss of Jewish life, I absolutely believe that the majority do not want to murder anyone, including Jews. I am confident that the majority of gun enthusiasts find making America a safer place to live just as important an issue as those who push for stricter gun laws. In fact, it needs to be said, in fairness, that many gun owners feel this way because they in fact do not feel safe without one. This means that although stricter gun laws may be important, they need to go hand in hand with finding ways to make citizens feel safer.
So how do we go about marginalizing extremists? We call on, actually we demand help from the media. The Mayans may or not be correct about the date, but unless we do something dramatic, they have a really good chance at being correct about the outcome. Except at this rate the world is headed more towards catastrophic implosions than cosmic explosions. Here is my call to the media and why I feel the answer lies in the major media outlets working together. Most people hold views that fall in a safe zone somewhere between the far right and the far left. By safe zone I mean a place where even if they are clearly Liberal or clearly Conservative, they are not dangerous people. I also believe that even if a network like FOX News has a Conservative agenda, and MSNBC has a Liberal agenda, they both agree on the issues that have the greatest impact on our survival. Neither advocates terrorist activity, mass murder, or outright bigotry. These networks have enormous influence worldwide, and if they took it on themselves to work together in discussing the issues they do agree on, they might be able to impact society towards a middle of the road mentality. In fact I feel that on a daily basis the major networks should coordinate a simulcast for at least one hour where they discuss the issues they agree upon regarding our safety, health, and basic ethics, and leave the harsher philosophical battles for the rest of the day. Imagine Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, and Bill O’Reilly on the same broadcast, shown on all 3 of these networks discussing the heroics of the schoolteachers of Sandy Hook, Ct., or condemning terrorist who blow up buses or kill dozens in roadside bombings. They can discuss their feelings on the specifics of gun control laws on any other broadcast, but if they got together for one hour a day and spoke of ways to improve mental health or identify potential murderers, imagine the good they could do.
There has been much talk this past week on the need of our society to change its mindset. I believe everyone agrees with this in one way or another. However, with all the time being wasted on blaming the extremists on both sides, we may be missing out on a great opportunity to begin the shift towards a more civilized world. I don’t lay the blame on the media, but I do think that it has an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility to marginalize the radicals and extremists who either are only concerned about their own personal or agenda or are so far gone they no longer care about anything important.