NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
I am writing to express my dismay at the tone conveyed in the letters of both Mr. Steele (published Feb. 10) and Mr. Herfurth (published Feb. 24). Both of these letters communicate that public discourse on a complex issue — such as the moral, ethical and cultural values surrounding guns in our society — is not worthy of thoughtful engagement and serious consideration. Steele’s sarcastic and silly letter failed to move this important discussion forward, and in equally poor taste, Herfurth’s response communicated anger and threats of violence.
Gun-related injury and death is a serious problem in our country, one that deserves analysis, regardless of how you feel about issues of gun ownership, licensing, distribution and public/private carry laws. Silly name-calling and threats of bodily harm do no good in moving forward what is truly needed: a collective examination and discussion of this problem.
Perhaps there does not exist the collective will to look closely enough at ourselves and see that while we in the United States struggle to reconcile individual freedoms and the public good regarding guns, we often simultaneously glorify forms and acts of violence, including gun violence, in our daily lives.
Rather than craft a public exchange over this powerful and important issue, it is easier to be anti-intellectual. We crack jokes instead of sitting down to talk. We threaten “come and get some” rather than offering to listen and consider opposing views.
I strive to teach my children that we solve problems together in mutual dialogue. I believe that we as humans are each responsible for caring for one another, and that ethic of caring translates into respectful discussion.
I want all of our children to be a part of a country that invites, even craves, reflective inquiry into its problems, a place in which elected officials and those they represent spend time in their daily lives examining multiple opinions and positions.
I want my daughters to know that though we may disagree, positions of agreement and disagreement are not permanent and that sometimes to change your beliefs, you must first change your actions.
Finally, I want them to understand that individual actions have great power, especially when joined to a collective cause. There is no problem we cannot address together, should we choose to do so. I believe we must seek common ground on the complex problem of guns in our society. There are no easy answers. How shall we begin this discussion here in our community?