Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day. He writes to me only on Thursdays. Well, actually he doesn’t write to me at all, but if he decides to, Thursdays will work on my end.
Dear Mr. President,
Here is a basic principle of life that I adhere to whenever possible: Don’t make grave decisions at a time of high emotion. By that I mean, for example, that no one should get mad, yell “I quit!” and storm off the job. He or she should wait until the fury passes; carefully consider if the job is desirable, and then decide to stay or go. People should not decide to divorce when they are furious at each other and throwing plates; rather, they too should wait until they are less angry, discuss their differences in a rational manner, and if they still want to smash the china, then they should call lawyers. And on it goes.
You get my point. Actions taken at a moment of heightened feelings can be very satisfying in the instant, but disastrous in the long run. (Oh sure, sometimes circumstances are so dire one must act right away, but often that is not the case.)
I mention it now because of all the debate over gun control in the wake of the Colorado shootings. I understand that this horrible incident is, for many people, a perfect catalyst for getting the conversation underway. I know as well that the conflict itself is perfectly valid; people who are for more gun control and those who oppose it have carried on a vigorous dispute for a long time.
But in the heated environment of the moment, I’m not sure we will get the best discussion, nor would we get the best legislation if both sides pressed it to the end. What we are most likely to get is a lot of inflamed rhetoric, accusations, and…once again…no conclusion of any sort.
Here is a novel idea: The people who are most vested in this issue, both pro and con, need to remember this moment and engage the issue when we are not in the wake of a national tragedy. I say this not out of any particular sense of moral propriety, and not because I am attempting to tip the scales either way, but rather in a spirit of practicality. Calm, rational, committed people almost always have a better chance of reasoning with each other and finding workable solutions, than do people who are upset and defensive.
The gun control debate, no matter which side you stand on, is a serious one that deserves serious consideration. All too often, however, we only hear about it when something awful happens…and it becomes nothing but another gust of sound and fury that soon passes and is forgotten by politicians of all stripes who are too timid to talk about it unless emotions are already flaming.
Hope all is well.
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