critical thinking

guns again

I had a great conversation about gun control with my brother-in-law a while ago. My context was Sandy Hook, where a man slaughtered 20 children between 6-7 years old, his mother, and six teachers, using weapons including an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle that his mother had bought legally. My brother-in-law’s context was Canada, where that just doesn’t happen. He’s also a very responsible gun owner.

At first we seemed to be in opposition. He heard me saying guns are bad, and I heard him saying guns are fine. But *eventually* we learned a lot. Gun control in Canada is not perfect but it’s light years superior to most of the US. And there really is a sickness in America – gun violence holds a sick fascination, and the male psyche is, for some insidious and complex reason, especially vulnerable here.

The solution to the problem in America is not *just* gun control, because that sickness is the most gut-rotted cancerous mess you can imagine, but gun control is *part* of the answer. If someone is bashing his own head with a hammer you don’t start with a lengthy talk about his feelings.

In Canada, Trudeau just announced a ban on assault-style weapons, which includes a list many people rightly say is not comprehensive. Some of these same people say that, because of the culture and the regulations already in play in Canada, the problem doesn’t exist and that this ban, timed as it is two weeks after the slaughter of 22 people in Nova Scotia, is a political stunt that will do nothing more than cost Canadians millions of dollars.

Could be.

Could be that this law changes nothing except to make a few thousand gun owners a little wealthier in exchange for a few thousand semi-automatic weapons gone from Canada.

But really, I’m good with that. Take my money.

No, it’s not a perfect solution to the complex and subtle problem that some people decide at some point that mass murder is some kind of option.

We need to take better care of each other. THAT is the only Real Solution.

But while we’re trying to find the compassion to do that on a national and global scale, I am 100% all in for ideas that make it harder for people to get their hands on weapons that only exist to kill people. You and I may disagree on the details (I am also all in for demanding effective implementation) but if we disagree on that, what’s your plan to get us to the Real Solution? And do we even agree on that?

dear Canada

I’ve recently been seeing Facebook posts from well-meaning Canadians demanding that candidates refrain from dirt-slinging this federal election season. Some posts even declare that such behaviour will cost their vote. This is particularly troubling, because it smacks of childish petulance and we need to be so much better than that. I mean, what, in protest you’re going to vote for the other guy? Abstain? Please.

Dear ??, respectfully, it sounds like you’re somehow missing the big picture. We have a responsibility to get informed on the positions our parties are taking. Who cares what the campaign ads are saying? It’s just marketing. Ignore the promises and stick to the facts. There are things we know. Conservatives will cut public services and deregulate business, trusting the free market to do something about the environment. The NDP will expand public services, curb corporate malfeasance, and promote green investment. They believe we should pay taxes and fully enjoy the benefits of paying them. The Greens are a one-platform party who work most effectively as part of the opposition. The Liberals want to get all the oil out while it’s still worth something, even at massive risk to the environment. They believe corporate investment will fix everything, even though it historically doesn’t. They are incentivizing green development, but simultaneously massively subsidizing fossil fuel companies (that’s not new, but I do think it needs to be wound down). You may disagree with my characterization of the parties, and that’s great. I welcome debate because it means you’ve gone to the trouble of getting informed. And that’s what we desperately need right now – a population that knows as much as our elected leaders.

9/11 and doing better

This year on 9/11 “Never Forget” is not enough in the era of trumpism. We have to do better. The hijackers were mostly middle class Saudis, some of whom had Christian European education. They did not come from a vacuum. We were instrumental in creating al Qaeda. Attempting to contain Soviet influence, the US actively worked to destabilize the Middle East, funding and training radical Muslims. And here we are, with a racist president who publicly insults Muslims and casually destroys decades of international and interfaith detente. So while you’re honoring the memory of 9/11 and the three thousand innocent Americans killed, think about how we got there and where we go from here. And think about your vote in the next election.

We’ve tried regime-building and proxy wars and it has never gone well. It came home disastrously. Now we’re trying insults and isolationism. It’s not going well. Maybe it’s time to fulfill our own idyllic fantasy of being a benevolent and powerful engine of global peace not through force but through compassion. Just my two bits.