In defense of optimism

The Newtown, Connecticut tragedy fades from the media, replaced with fiscal-cliff updates and myriad stories of international tensions. That’s not to say those affected have been forgotten – that’s not possible. It’s just that the proverbial dust has settled and it seems the populace has zeroed in on gun laws as the issue.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I get it. We all want to feel like we’re doing something. Anything at all to help ensure such a horrific tragedy never gets repeated. So we point to gun control – either for or against – as the way to accomplish this.

I debated whether I should divulge my position on this emotionally-charged topic. But I figure I’d better; anyone who takes the time to read these words deserves full disclosure.

So here goes: I support the Second Amendment. Not a hay-bale-barricade-in-the-woods support, but a right-to-protect-my-family-if-it-ever-came-to-it support. I don’t believe we need to ban guns and, if we did, I don’t believe a ban would stop the bad guys.

That said, I don’t believe a gun-control argument is helpful. One glance at Facebook or the comment section on CNN.com or Foxnews.com speaks to the sad truth that most of us aren’t emotionally ready to have an intelligent, logical debate on the topic. Instead, we’re hurling insults and turning on each other. Again, not helpful.

So I wonder, if the real issue is that we’re struggling with our helplessness in this situation (and I believe that is the issue), how do we address that in any concrete way? As pessimism sinks in, how can we feel like we’re making a difference in a world that at times can appear to have gone crazy?

The world harbors bad guys. That, unfortunately, is a fact that won’t change no matter how enlightened and civilized we think we’ve become. Whether we outlaw guns or we plant an armed guard in every school, darkness will continue to lurk. It’s always been there; it always will be.

Does that stink? Yes. Yes it does. But long ago, my late and beloved Aunt once said to me, “I can’t change the world, Julie. I can only love and protect my family.” I didn’t understand what she meant back then (largely because I was miffed that she was keeping me from “friends” who were no good for me), but I understand now.

We don’t need a nationwide gun-control argument to prove that we have a great deal of individual control. We can make a huge impact, as my dear Aunt Beth asserted, in our own families, our homes, our communities. We all have our spheres of influence – they’re larger than we think – and if we all utilize them they will overlap and grow and begin to force out darkness.

So let’s stop arguing and blaming, even though it feels safer to be cynical and to keep our expectations nice and low so we won’t be blindsided when things go wrong. I takes a certain strength to be optimistic, to follow the golden rule even when humanity doesn’t seem to deserve it.

We all posses this strength, so let’s be the light. Let’s be optimistic. Believe in humanity. Pay it forward. Go home and love your children. Kiss your spouse. Buy a stranger lunch. Show more love to your loved ones, for I’m willing to bet Adam Lanza may have felt many things, but loved wasn’t one of them.

* * *

What do you think? Am I wearing rose-colored glasses? Can we possibly improve our world through caring and acts of kindness? Or is gun-control (whether for or against) truly what will help this country heal?

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2 thoughts on “In defense of optimism

  1. Amen! if we were a more loving people, there wouldn’t be shootings to rant about. The two “great” commandments of the Bible are to love God and love our neighbor, which Biblical scholars tell us would negate the need for any additional commandments if we just obeyed them. But because we couldn’t be nice to each other, additional commandments were added. Cheesy as it sounds, love really does conquer all! 🙂

    • I wish I could “Like” this comment. Well said. You’d think after all this world bas been through, we’d all be obeying by now. I’ll take cheesy any day! Thanks for visiting 🙂

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