Tragedies and Talking Points


BY NATE WILL SHEETS

Immediately following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, my Facebook was filled with friends and various organizations voicing their condolences and shock, as well as their political views and self-righteousness.

Before any of the facts came out, people already knew the problem: lack of gun control, not enough guns, mental health care not being accessible, and on and on. This was before we knew who the shooter was and what connection, if any, the shooter had to the school.

I read through my newsfeed, sad also at the people mentioning "the special place in hell" for the shooter -- again, despite their knowing nothing about the situation or the shooter himself. It was an almost identical situation to just a few days earlier, when the mall just three miles from my house, Clackamas Town Center, had a gunman open fire during the Christmas rush, killing three.

If there is one thing I have learned from social media and the mainstream media, it's that America needs to learn how to have a conversation without tempers flaring. When it comes to social issues such as abortion, the death penalty, war, and gun rights, we seem to think that if we talk louder than the other side, then we will win.

But it's not happening. Instead, we click "Share" and spread our outrage about this or that and don't give a second thought to whether or not we are spreading misinformation. If the image or meme supports what we think, then it's all OK.

The response to the shootings in Newtown is just a small piece of the pie that is America's inability to listen, learn, and make solutions. We assume that our opinion is just so logical, so divinely inspired, or so apparent that compromising is not only a non-option but to do so would be to compromise our morals. And god-forbid we compromise our moral beliefs -- regardless of the consequences that failing to do so will have on the poor, on women, or on unborn kids.

Photo by Bill Morrow; some rights reserved.

We will make more progress on these issues when we allow our own worldviews to be challenged and our minds to see other solutions. And this cannot be done if we are busy being enraged at what people who disagree with us on any particular issue do or say.

I encourage everyone to resist the "Share" button and ask yourself if you are spreading information or if you are spreading rage. We have enough rage in America and perpetuating indignant talking points and self-righteous anger only perpetuates that rage.

#volume2issue2

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