In Search Of A Different Way

No problem can be solved by the same consciousness
that caused it in the first place.

–Albert Einstein

What a year this has been for mass murders! Worse, the question of how to deal with them is one of the most divisive in my memory. My  position on it is as hard-wired as is that of those on the other side of the argument.  My view hasn’t changed in thirty years, and in that span of time, we, as a nation, have seen the annual numbers of mass killings skyrocket. We have had more mass killings than days this year.

Thirty people per million will be murdered in mass killings in the U.S. this year. In Japan, it’s two per million. Most European countries will have fewer than ten. Is this the exceptionalism we Americans aspire to?

I think it’s time to do something different about the matter. I don’t know what that means, except that it is certain that unless we let go of our self-righteousness-on both sides of the issue-and open our minds to all possibilities for change, we  will be bogged down in this same intractable situation for the next thirty years.

It is a very bad time to hold on to unworkable ideas on gun massacres. Socionomics long ago forecasted the decline in social mood we are experiencing today, with its accompanying rise in hate crimes. The bear market that is coming will make matters even worse than they are now.

So, what is my position on gun control? It doesn’t matter. It hasn’t contributed to any improvement in the risk of exposure to random murder.  Gun control is a very emotional issue. Conversations about it never get anywhere, and usually devolve into shouting matches. So I propose we look at the matter in a different way.

Pope John XXIII said, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. And, in all things, charity.”

What is the essential thing we can be unified about? It must be reducing the senseless loss of life. How will we do this? I propose that we talk, and that we leave all pre-conceived ideas out of the conversation. At the very least, we should ask what  social science has to say about the cultural differences between us and the countries that have significantly lower rates of hate crimes.

Finding a real solution is probably more difficult than arresting climate change. We need innovative ideas and open mindedness. We need to tinker with systems, which is how most  breakthroughs occur. But it’s got to start with talk, and unity about our goal of making our country safe for ourselves, our kids and our grandkids.

It used to be said, “If we can put a man on the moon, we can do anything!” I believe that is true. It must be true.

On Sunday our pastor, Dr. Bob Baggott, preached on the amazing qualities of Mary of Nazareth. She was very young, perhaps twelve or thirteen.  It would normally have been shocking for a girl to be told she would have a child conceived out of wedlock, a prospect that, in that era, could have gotten her stoned to death. But when told that she would birth the Son of God, she accepted the responsibility with a child-like belief in miracles, and an incredible will to carry out God’s plan.

Then, departing from his prepared text, he spoke on the tragedy of the San Bernardino massacre. He suggested that, in order to bring about an end to these awful killings, we would do well to give up our present way of thinking, recall our child-like belief in miracles, and have the will to work together on a plan and see it though to a good outcome.

“What about you,” he asked, “Do you think you could do that?”


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