People seemed to be pretty fired up these days. Whether it’s a picture of President Barack Obama not putting his hand over his heart during (what is presumably) the national anthem or the notion that Mitt Romney outsourced thousands of American jobs, the liberal leanings of Progressive Insurance or the bigoted policies of Chik-Fil-A, people in my web of friendships have been taking to social media in great waves to strongly voice their opinions. While political dialogue would normally be a symptom of a healthy democracy, the increasing levels of intense vitriol shows that we are truly a nation divided. Both extreme sides of this divide are convinced their vision is the only way forward, while neither side seems willing to yield on a single point. This scares me. As President Abraham Lincoln famously stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Nowhere did this level of division become more apparent than after the shootings last week in Colorado. Before the corpses of the innocent were even cold, the extremists on both sides began calling from their respective rooftops (from “we must ban all guns” on the left to “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” on the right). I what is becoming an increasingly American form of stupidity, we ignore the elephant in the room (there are 12 people dead and dozens more wounded) and go directly to protecting our own self-serving ideological positions.
I wish I knew what the answers are, but I don’t. But I’m sure if we work together, as a nation, we can figure it out. Preventing the next horrific mass murder will require us to work together and arrive at sensible solutions regarding guns in our society. I hope this includes allowing responsible citizens to own guns but prevents people with the potential to turn on innocent civilians from owning guns. Both sides may have to yield on some things. I have my opinions on this and would be willing to express them to anyone who wants to hear them. But be advised, my opinion is neither liberal nor conservative when it comes to gun ownership. Or anything else, really.
So why am I writing this? Easy: I have two daughters who I love more than anything on earth and I want them to enjoy the simple things in life, such as going to movies or high school, without the fear of being murdered. And it goes beyond that. I want them to enjoy the America that I have enjoyed and that my parents and grandparents have enjoyed. Maintaining the gift that we have all inherited will require compromise. People don’t want to hear that, but we are a nation at its best when we compromise. Our greatest moments as a country came after our leaders yielded in a manner that put the country first, from the drafting of the Constitution, to Lincoln’s “team of rivals” to Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill negotiating policies that ushered in the prosperity of the 1980s.
Let’s stop the petty infighting and rallying around the stuff that divides us and instead focus on the stuff that unites us. Let’s agree that, while it’s perfectly rational to have divergent views, life involves give-and-take, and for us to all have the best nation in the world, we’re all going to have to give a little before we can take a lot.