A few months ago I wrote an article on my kids having access to guns. It was a piece intended to highlight one of my core values as a father; responsibly raising children in a home that has firearms.
I am a life member of the NRA, but not because I’m a lobbyist for gun advocacy. Certainly, I care about my right to bear arms, to protect myself, my family, and my home from violent attack, but I also care primarily about gun safety and the responsibility that invariably comes with the use of any firearm. I care that thousands of people each year die needlessly at the hands of violence involving the use of a gun. I care that some of my friends in those circles see the color of Vester Lee Flanagans skin as more important than the heinous crime he committed. I care that people are terrified of the NRA and it’s members, or guns and their owners in general. I care that they don’t feel safe.
I care that yesterday, Carter Gaddis, a fellow dad blogger over at DadScribe published this post about ‘what your NRA sticker says about you’. In the post, Carter passionately describes that the NRA sticker on the back window of your vehicle is an “endorsement of violent death”. That it makes you a threat to him, his friends, and his loved ones and that you care more about your right to bear arms than any of the aforementioned. That you as a member of the gun lobby, will potentially, randomly snap and open fire without provocation.
Summarily, this is what Carter thinks of you, of me, because of our NRA stickers.
I care about why he thinks that of you, of me, because it is a very real fear. Despite what Carter thinks of me and my NRA sticker, I care that he feels that way. I feel for him.
As I began this draft last night, Reddit and FaceBook dropped the hammer. Hate and scorn rained upon Carter the likes of which I have never seen. I read many of the comments on the post before Carter took them down. Unfortunately I did not capture any. Some were civil, seeking open discussion and understanding of the authors point of view. Others lambasted him for even thinking about having a differing opinion. Still others responded with unbridled hate.
I want to focus on a key aspect of all of this here; lets talk about the hate.
I wish there was no hate, but unfortunately all I can do is wish. We live in a world full of hate. ISIS is hacking peoples heads off based on hate of other religions. Angry, hateful boys gun each other down in the streets of Chicago, IL. The internet swarms with the fury of Africanized Honeybees at the first sniff of something it doesn’t agree with. An angry man gunned down three human beings and posted a fucking video of it on the internet.
We live in a world where it’s easier to tell somebody to “fuck off and die” than it is to say “I understand your point, might I offer an alternate position on the subject?” I say this in self-reflection, recalling many threads where flaming an unpopular user was easier than attempting to understand their point of view. It was easy not to care. Suicide threat? “Pics or it didn’t happen.” or “Do it.” or the ever popular “Tits or GTFO”. The things we continue to do to others behind our computer screens is awful. What’s more awful is that it’s bleeding over into our everyday lives, where people are being ‘Swatted’ or even tracked down and attacked by somebody they pissed off online. It’s become easy to hate.
And what do we do in the face of hate? We respond by hatefully lashing out at those would be our friends because in fearful ignorance, we do not know who our friends are. We’re stuck in the wash cycle here.
Do I agree with Carter? No, I do not. Do I think his points are misguided? To a degree. Do I care what he thinks of me based on his blog post? Well not in the sense that it will affect my day-to-day life, but yes I do care that he’s horrified by the acts of a generalized population in which he sees a major threat. The point is, I am not blowing up Carters email, Facebook, and blog to tell him how much of a loser he is. I’m not shitting on his character or degrading his family over his opinion. I dislike his post, but I do not hate the man. The problem is that there are too many people attacking the man… and women, and children, and anyone else who slighted, wronged, ignored, or hurt them in any way.
There is too much hate.
This post was originally intended as a rebuttal to Carters arguments, but I cannot bring myself to compare the apples and oranges of our opinions. Instead, I want to express how much I care for people like Carter. People who have the bravery to stand up against hate. To stare it down and to take the brunt of its force. Two people died at the hands of a madman with a gun yesterday. Two innocent people shot by an angry, hateful man who wanted to kill. I can say for certain that whatever differences of opinion Carter and I may share, the one thing we can agree on is that there needs to be a change.
But hey, Carter… hey, angry mob…. If there is anything that my NRA sticker says about me, it’s that I cannot afford to hate.
I do have an idea about that change though. We should all try to care a bit more.