Updated: July 10, 2014 6:03AM
Gun control. Mental illness. Media hype sensationalism. “Open carry” rallies. Copycat killings. And school shootings, the latest one at Seattle Pacific University.
Plus, the latest controversy du jour, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s “swap” for five Taliban prisoners. And the bonus debate: Decided deserter or prisoner of war — you make the call.
These hot-button issues crash on us like violent waves, one after another, pulling us into a dangerous undertow of numbness. Or, worse yet, normalcy.
We’ve gotten so used to this daily carnage, and related issues in their wake, that we’ve convinced ourselves we know the answers behind it all. For instance, the mass shootings that take place all too regularly. Guns are the cause, I hear. Mental illness is the cause. Media hype is the cause. Our country is the cause.
Most Americans are convinced — convinced — they know what they’re talking about when debating these polarizing topics. Why? Studies, they cite. Experts, they claim. Long-held beliefs, they assert. Second Amendment rights, they insist.
The latest mass killings, near the University of California Santa Barbara, once again triggered an outcry from both sides of the gun-rights debate. It caused another spike in gun sales (not knife sales) as well as public cries for fewer guns in our society.
I’m not against gun owners or their rights, but I don’t want some yahoo openly carrying a military-type assault rifle into a local Home Depot either.
Right to bear arms? How about a right to bear an educated opinion without resorting to knee-jerk, fear-based rhetoric? More of us need to arm ourselves with more information, knowledge and personal experiences than more guns, bullets and belligerence.
Still, the number of concealed carry permits for handguns always spikes after such killing sprees. If only we were required to have permits before voicing our loose-cannon thoughts on matters we know too little about. But no.
On social media, I routinely post items about such subjects strictly to read the opposing viewpoints from readers. I find it immensely intriguing that so many people are so sure of themselves and their stances.
Confident. Positive. Unwavering. This is how they come across, painting issues in the broad brushstrokes of black and white. Obviously gray doesn’t exist in their palette. Too many of us have too many answers and not enough questions.
Critical thinking has become an oxymoron. You know who you are. Or do you?
Do you really consider yourself a credible source on gun control issues because you own a gun? Especially in a trigger-happy country where mass shootings have taken place every month for the past few years? Do you really know enough about the complexities of mental illness to shoot your mouth off to others?
On another powder-keg issue, are you really informed enough on the incomplete case of Bowe Bergdahl to not only harbor a self-assured opinion but to voice it so boldly. You have all the facts at hand? Really?
Here’s the real kicker: Most of these simpletons simply regurgitate what they hear, read or watch without forming an opinion on their own. Then again, why use critical thinking and detailed research when blaming, say, President Obama for everything and anything is so much easier. And oh so convenient.
I’m not defending Obama. I’m challenging you, Mr. and Mrs. Know-It-All, to challenge yourselves. Do your homework. Educate yourself beyond Bible-based beliefs or antiquated cultural norms. Listen up and study up before pretending you know what you’re talking about on any given topic. Especially these complex and intertwined ones.
Also, learn and use these three simple words, which are obviously foreign to you: “I don’t know.” Go ahead and say them out loud right now, possibly for the first time: “I don’t know.” Why? Because most likely, you don’t.
John Wayne or The Onion?
For comedic relief on such dire subject matter, here are two opposing jabs from each camp on the gun-rights issue. First the old joke attributed to Hollywood cowboy John Wayne: “Gun control requires concentration … and a steady hand.”
And here’s another one that reflects the antithesis of what Wayne stood for, from The Onion. The satirical news organization posted this tweet after the recent killings near the University of California Santa Barbara: “ ‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
Whichever one you think is funny (or funnier) depends on your stance on this issue.
Roots and wings
Dear parents of young kids and teenagers, with kids last week either advancing to another grade level or graduating from somewhere, here’s some advice from your friendly neighborhood columnist.
Your job as a parent is to give them roots and wings, not crutches and training wheels, if they are to grow up as strong, independent adults. Too many well-meaning parents too easily forget that their role is to be a safety net, not a hovering helicopter.
Keep this in mind as your kids try to take flight, at any age.
Belated congrats to ...
Finally, congratulations to Steve Ayala and his new bride, Ashley Clark, who got married on Friday after being together for four years. He’s 29, she’s 25, and hopefully they’ll live happily ever after until death do them part, decades from now.
I’ve known Steve since he was a young teen playing hockey with my son. I lost to him many times in tennis, and I still see him at the Portage 16 Imax, where he has steadily climbed the management ladder.
I also watched from afar as he admirably dealt with the death of his father. He’s a good kid, a class act and, now, a new husband. Steve, your dad would be so proud, I’m sure.
Connect with Jerry via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.