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Applying Reason to a World Fueled by Emotion
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The shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day gripped the nation with a fury of emotion, as well as debate. No reasonable person was apathetic when they heard the accounts of a young man gunning down dozens of students; killing 17, injuring many more, and traumatizing an entire community. But as this story gripped the hearts of much of the nation, so too has it been blinding their good sense.

Surely, as the nation switched quickly from sorrow to rage, the debate surrounding guns become less about actual facts and solutions and more about who holds moral superiority in their arguments. This is the unfortunate matter in our political discourse today. It is void of any notion of rational thinking and rewards those who place nonsensical emotion over clear-headed reason.

In the current instance, it is about guns. We are told we must “do something” to ensure we stop these shootings from happening. This, of course, means that government must be utilized in some capacity to keep kids from being shot. Regardless of whether this is actually something that could be effective, you are made out to seem like you don’t care if kids die if you don’t support these measures. This alone, in fact, does more harm than it does good.

The idea of “support what I support or you want kids to die” is damaging to both discourse and actually finding solutions. Suggesting that people who want to find alternative solutions to mass shootings don’t care about people dying only alienates both sides further when we should be coming together. Furthermore, it severely limits the number of possible solutions that can be found.

No matter how much someone may claim to care the most about children dying, it doesn’t mean their emotion-filled solution is correct. We as people tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to want to involve government first when looking for solutions. This is the inherent flaw in our nature.

Government’s natural duty is to do one thing and one thing only: protect the natural rights of individuals.

Whenever it oversteps those boundaries, it inevitably fails. This doesn’t become any less true just because one side might feel morally superior in their desire to do something. With gun control, any government law or regulation imposed ignores the inevitability of unintended consequences.

What we see immediately is the intention behind a law, the desire to save “just one life” as President Obama once said. What happens is the undesirable consequences that are often ignored. For example, the Gun-Free School Zones Act had bipartisan support and was passed under the idea of child protection. The unintended consequences of this act, as we have seen far too often, is that teachers and students alike are left without protection if a shooter arrives.

There are many facts and statistics that so many people have already pointed out that suggest that gun laws don’t work and endanger more than they protect. I’m not going to rehash them here. But it is important to point out that the facts matter, and ignoring them because they make you feel bad gives you no higher moral superiority.

The most caring thing anyone can do in situations like these is to not let your heart cloud your good judgment. Effective results are far more compassionate than well-meaning, yet unintended consequences. 

The saying “facts don’t care about your feelings” is perhaps a bit overdone, but it is also no less true. Now, saying that, it is equally true that we should message these facts in a way that doesn’t make people feel like they have to choose between their heart and their brain. Both can coexist. 

It should not be forgotten that while the left may be the overactive emotional ones when it comes to gun control, conservatives are no more rational in other areas as well. While the left may try to give people the false option of “support gun control or you hate children,” the right does this just as much with the national security, foreign policy, immigration, and the military.

Both sides have an inherent desire to seek government solutions to problems they are politically attached to. They will both ignore the unforeseen consequences because they are self-righteous in their own narrative.

This is a major problem that must be solved first before we can even hope to fix anything else. There are very easy steps that can be taken to ensure we don’t fall into this thinking trap. But keep in mind that before it can happen to anyone else, you must apply it to your own life first.

Consider the possibility that you are wrong.

Nobody likes thinking that they may not have all the right answers. It requires that you swallow your pride and admit to everyone that you didn’t have the whole picture as figured out as you thought. That’s okay. As hard as it is, that is the only way you can grow in your convictions and it is the only way larger discussions around the issues can improve. If you’re wrong, you’ve become a better person in finding the truth. If you’re right, you can find comfort in the fact that you are more sure of yourself than ever.

Your ideological opponents are neither evil nor apathetic.

It is so easy to be quick to pass judgment on those who disagree with you. While it is true that some people with certain ideologies are truly abhorrent, the majority of people in our national discourse are more similar than they are different. They likely have families, jobs, lives, and experiences just like the rest of us. The quicker you embrace your ideological opponent rather than shun them, the quicker we all come closer to finding the truth.

Allowing your heart to cloud your rationality is a vice, not a virtue.

As mentioned before, many people are very quick to judge a certain policy or idea by the intentions behind it, rather than the results that follow. This is something we all must stay clear of. “Doing something” just for the sake of doing something is not virtuous nor effective. If you care about kids or the poor or the military or whatever the cause is, then do something because it actually works, not because you hope it works despite evidence saying otherwise.

Don’t put your heart and mind against each other.

To deny your own emotions is as ridiculous as letting them take over your mind. People are not robots acting only out of facts and logic. Likewise, doing things based on feelings alone is dangerous to yourself and others. You must use reason to solve your problems not in spite of your emotions, but because of them. Your heart and your mind are not meant to be enemies, they are both parts of the same body. Let them work together to achieve the same goals.

Find out what YOU can do before demanding the government do something.

Change doesn’t start in Washington. Government is the slowest to adapt to change because they are the least effective at producing it. For something to be lasting, it must start inwardly and grow out. Ask yourself what can be done by yourself and within your own house before taking further action.

Obviously, there is no limit to what can be done to fix our political discourse, but these are a few steps that you can take in your own life that can have a tremendous effect on those around you. It is so easy to get caught up in the heat of arguing and the fear of being perceived as heartless. Nobody wants to be thought of as someone who doesn’t care. But it can’t be ignored that the actions of those who “care” often make things worse instead of better.

Restoring reason to our thinking is not cold or heartless. Rather, it is the most compassionate thing any of us can do. This is the biggest thing that needs to be communicated. We all have it in us to critically think, but we don’t always allow ourselves to.

In the case of the recent shooting in Florida, my heart aches for the families who unknowingly sent their children to school for the last time that day. I want to see them end as much as every other American. And because I want them to end, I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in seemingly easy solutions that won’t actually work. Nothing can ever completely prevent these horrible things from happening, to think otherwise is foolish. But it is far more effective to allow teachers with a fighting chance than to leave them defenseless. Many teachers already have CCWs, simply allowing them the liberty to carry if they so choose would at least allow them to protect their students effectively.

I believe in that solution because my heart tells me something must be done, but my logic tells me how something can be done effectively.

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