(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?) approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics. It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites. There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018. Merry Christmas! — ABT)
By Ashley Bean Thornton
I went to the “March for our Lives” rally Saturday, but I did not really want to go.
I do not like political rallies and protest marches.
Sure, I can appreciate a clever sign and an inspiring speech as much as anyone, but once the initial emotional high has worn off, I feel bad.
I want to believe people can work together to understand each other’s points of view and to find a way forward together when it comes to difficult issues. Once the PA system and the signs come out, however, I feel like we aren’t trying to understand each other and work together any more…we are trying to make sure our side wins.
I have a democrat sticker on my car and I have heard people say that means I hate guns. I don’t hate guns. I would characterize my feeling toward guns as neutral.
I don’t personally own a gun. They are not interesting to me, so I spend my money on other things. Also, I am pretty much blind in one eye…the one you need for shooting it turns out. So, there’s that.
But, I don’t hate guns. Many of my friends have guns for all kinds of different reasons… hunting, protection, fun. I don’t have any problem with that. I don’t have any problem with you carrying your gun in your purse or your pocket or your holster or your pick-up truck. If you are not using your guns to shoot innocent people, and you are keeping your guns away from little kids, then I don’t have any problem with your guns.
I do not hate guns. Most of the time I don’t even care about or think about guns.
One reason I have the luxury of not caring about guns is that most of the people who do own guns are very responsible with their guns. Most gun owners are responsible. I get that.
I also get that responsible people don’t like having their rights and privileges abridged because of the behavior of irresponsible people. I don’t want my car taken away because someone else drinks and drives. I don’t want my cell phone taken away because someone else texts and drives. You don’t want your guns taken away or your gun ownership made inconvenient because some other guy was irresponsible. I get that.
Also, I believe that some (maybe most) gun owners “get” some of things that are important to me. For example, I am fine with a whole lot of people having guns, but there are some exceptions. I am not fine with unsupervised teenagers having guns that can kill people. I am not fine with certain kinds of criminals having guns. I am not fine with mentally unstable people having guns.
I bet most gun lovers can understand why I believe some people ought not to have guns. I believe we could have a fruitful conversation about where to draw those lines and how to enforce them. I believe we could make some headway that would keep us all safer.
When it comes to “assault guns” or “AR-15’s” or whatever the right word is for guns that fire many, many bullets incredibly quickly…I don’t like them, but I can understand why some people might not want to have them banned completely. I bet most gun lovers can understand why I think the standards and rules for owning such a dangerous weapon should be very, very strict. I bet if we got in a room together with the goal of coming up with rules we could both live with on this matter, we could come up with something that would move us down the road.
There have always been and always will be trade-offs between freedom and safety. We can’t protect ourselves or our children from every harmful person, but we can work together to get better at it than we are doing now. I believe that’s what we should do. Or more to the point, I believe that is what our elected representatives should be doing in our names.
I don’t really like rallies and marches because I feel like, if we are not careful, they become opportunities for vilifying each other, reinforcing our worst opinions about each other and making it harder than ever to work together.
So why did I go to the “March for our Lives?” Honestly, I succumbed to peer pressure. My friends were going, so I did. And, despite my misgivings, I’m glad I did.
The young people who spoke were magnificent! Smart and poised and well-reasoned, they gave me hope for the future of our country.
Also, bluntly, the way I wish we would work together doesn’t seem to be working.
As I stood in the sun listening to the speeches, I thought about how long we have been trying to figure out how to protect our children and ourselves, and it seemed to me we have made no progress.
As I looked around at the crowd of hundreds in Waco (and the pictures that showed crowds of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands in other cities) I thought, “I guess this is what it takes to make progress. It takes bodies getting out into the street. It takes showing the sheer physical mass of people who care about an issue. This is what it takes to get an issue on the table.” I understand this is what it takes, and I am so very grateful to those hardworking souls who are making it happen, but I still wonder why … why can’t we just talk? I wish we could.
This Act Locally Waco blog post is by Ashley Bean Thornton, she has lived in Waco almost 20 years now. Far longer than she ever lived anywhere else. She likes to walk. If you see her out walking, honk and wave and say “hi!”
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.