My Last Post About Guns. I’m Out.

flickr: vinothchandar

flickr: vinothchandar

With the recent National Rifle Association’s campaign to bring armed guards into every school in the United States [12/21/12 nra.org], I’m out. Simply put, this posture of thinking and the conversations that have spun out of it, are indicative of a chasm of perspective that I am no longer willing to try and cross via my blog life.

So, NRA, mission accomplished, you win. You and those who would support this plan are scaring the $h!t out of me.

No matter how folks wish to frame recent conversations about guns in the United States, the violence and expected legislation, it is clear to me that the climate is being fueled by fear, self-preservation and an individual’s rights above all others. These are not bad things in themselves, but the problem is that when the debate currency is hyperbole and hypotheticals no one - left, right or in-between - is able to make much headway with the other. We can all quote studies that support our positions, we can all claim the thoughtful approach and we all find plenty of reasons that the other side is delusional and idiotic.

Now normally, I might chalk this political carnival atmosphere up to just another day of politics in the United States, but in this case, I deeply wonder to what end and at what cost? I have seen very few cases – there have been a few – where anyone has changed their mind or had transformative relational experiences with someone from the other “side.” Much like abortion, civil rights and marriage equality I will choose to trust those whom we have elected to office to do what we have tasked them to do: listen to those who sent them there, make decisions for the common good and have the mettle and determination to see those decisions through without feeding the violent rhetoric that take on a very different tone when the issue is guns.

And if they fail, we vote them out of office.

So, I am done blogging about guns because it stresses me out. It stresses out my family and friends who read the comments. And there are simply times when talking about guns – and I think thoughtful gun advocates need to realize this – that when people get pissed off at you when talking about guns and lift up hypothetical violence against you and your family they are scary . . . um, because they have guns and they are pissed. I suspect this is the intent – and some get off on the power and intimidation – but really it’s just not worth it for me to keep poking the internet trolls in the eye. So yeah, fear is playing a role, but my reaction is not to go into lock-down and arm my family, but to walk away and no longer add to the escalation.

The biggest reason that I am dropping out of much of public blogging debate, however, is that I don’t like the way it is makes me feel about other human beings: strangers, acquaintances AND strangers. I strive to always interact with graciousness, try to see the complex beauty with which God has gifted each person and attempt to appreciate those who hold views that are different from mine. But, what I have noticed about my own spirit is that I can feel these interactions eating away at my soul and my ability to truly honor and see the child of God in all people. As a Christian, when I begin to lose the ability to see the other as holy, I become an unhelpful and even destructive voice.

Sometime we must disengage.

But lest you think I am TOTALLY out of the conversation, I am no abdicating my voice and my ability to help connect people and resources. We must each hold our public servants accountable, strive to participate in helpful ways and, even when we are unable to ourselves, instigate and support thoughtful dialogue.  So with this in mind, as I stumble upon good articles and resources, I will be pinning them to  my Support Gun Control Board  via my Pinterest life.

So . . . I’m not shying away from hard conversations, rather, I am striving to be a healthy part of whatever conversations I do choose to have. And right now and for the foreseeable future, it will not be about guns.

See original post on www.reyes-chow.com and/or sign up for my mailing list to stay in touch.

How This Parent Will Strive to Disagree Better

On the way to school this morning, the girls and I had a great interaction about how we treat one another. It began as they were talking about a t-shirt that they often wear to school that has the phrase on the front, “I love Lola” followed by the definition of “Lola” . . . “grandmother ” in Tagalog.

Middle, “When people read my ‘I love Lola’ shirt they think I’m talking about my dog.”

Youngest, “Seriously, don’t people bother to read?”

Eldest, you should totally say, “You know I enjoy careful reading . . . you should try it.”

Laugh, giggle and then Daaaad had to talk . . .

What followed was a great conversation about how some comebacks may seem really funny, and may even be clever, but that using cut downs meant to humiliate or demean was not okay.

“Go ahead, let your inside voice say it, but please don’t actually say it outloud. Deal?”

“Deal.”

No major eye-rolling. Just another teachable moment as they say.

Some of you are reading this and may be thinking this was not the best advice. You may be right, but it did get me thinking about how we parents model interaction in times of conflict and disagreement.

As a person who has the privilege of having a writing and speaking platform from which I can raise issues that are important to me, it’s not a surprise that I get a good deal of nastiness directed my way. Don’t worry, I let most of it roll off of me . . . though don’t let my momma find out who you are ;-) I’m not naive and I know that the big bad evil trolls are out there lurking. Waiting. At the same time, just because they are out there, does not mean that we should now abdicate public discourse to those who seek and reap division; accept this posture as the new normal or resort to the same kind of tactics.

Yes, this is one more post pleading for all of us to rise above the fray and choose to disagree differently. And I will say until I am blue the face that my commitment to remove tactics of humiliation, destruction and dehumanization from our interaction is not one that leads to a weakness in fortitude, devaluation of truth or limited impact. In fact, I would contend that in today’s hyper-snarky, techo-crazy world, I think people who have the discipline to exhibit unexpected humility, excruciating graciousness and passionate love of the other are the architects, curators and builders of a better tomorrow.

With my interaction with the kids and comments from this post and this update fresh in mind mind, I posed this question on my Facebook Page:

I wonder if most parents would be proud if their children interacted the same way at school during passionate disagreements about playground life as the parents do during passionate disagreements about politics?

If you take the time to read through the comments on the above links, I think you get a good sense of where I probably am in my own modeling: most of the time I feel okay about how I respond to others in the heat of the debate, but every so often, I resort to tactics that are patronizing, humiliating and destructive to the body as a whole.

These are not traits I want to pass on to my children.

So for my daughters’ sake and all who may observe me, I will strive to be and do better.

Anyone else?

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