At a conference last week, I walked in to the hospitality suite to find a group watching Fox News. I almost turned around and left. Somehow, I landed in a discussion about gun control that led to my feverishly Googling for statistics on my phone while my friend Tim did the same on his. I couldn’t find the chart I wanted, so I asked Facebook.
The immediate response from my friends was Get. Out. Of that. Discussion. But Bill found it for me:
Then my friend Steve, a conservative and a scholar, asked me to consider this one:
Which, of course, did not help my argument.
I went several rounds with Tim that night over statistics and several more with Steve the next day on a topic where people are unbelievably entrenched. With Tim, I had to concede that you can generally find statistics to prove anything you want. With Steve, I had to concede that statistics generally don’t prove Cause and Effect. But I left both of those discussions feeling good and believing that there are plenty of people on the other side of this issue that are also trying to be thoughtful and realistic and engaged. Here are my conclusions:
- We should all do a better job of doing our homework and considering different points of view. This isn’t going to get resolved in one conversation, or with one new law. It’s going to take lots of conversations to hash out. It is going to take some compromise. And there might be unintended consequences to address.
- We will only be able to do that if we believe that we are all in this together. Acting in good faith.
Sometime online, during the election primaries, I was on a thread about how the world is not going to end if “the other one” is elected. No one is really moving to Canada and Texas isn’t actually going to secede from the Union. We’d better find a way to work things out.