We Americans aren't particularly fond of subtleties. We like our politics black and white and our issues right or wrong. I once thought this was indicative of lack of intellectual energy, but lately I've been thinking we just like to fight. The problem is, most significant social issues are messy, and there are no perfect - or even near-perfect - solutions.
Citizen gun pundits are having a ball the past few days quoting Newt Gingrich to support their lack of support for gun control. The latest is that Newt picked up on the statistics about gun violence in Chicago,
I get in my cab tonight after dinner, and the cab driver says "I'm the best cab driver you have ever had." I tell him, "That's going to be tough to achieve. Everywhere I go I meet wonderful cab drivers - it's one of my favorite things about traveling."
So he says, "Well, I bet you never had a cab driver serenade you before." He's right. This has not happened. "What will you sing for me?" I ask. "One of my favorite songs," he says. "A love song in my native language."
"Are you a tenor or a baritone?" I ask. "Both," he says. "When I was a young boy in Mexico City, I could do every voice in the choir." "OK," I say, "Sing me your song. It's been a terrific day and this sounds like a wonderful way to end it."
And he begins to sing. A soft, melodic, then soaring Spanish love ballad. I put my head back, closed my eyes, listened, then wept. When he opened my door I kissed him on his cheek and gave him his due. "Yes," I said, "You are the best cab driver I have ever had."
Everywhere you go, people can surprise you. They are rarely just what they seem.
The Wisconsin Family Action Council won't even tolerate gays 'imitating marriage'. I had no idea that what we were doing for the past almost 20 years - raising children, taking care of each other, caring for in-laws, being active members of our extended families, and investing in our schools and communities, was an imitation. I always thought it was real!!
Our children - and now our grandchild - have paid a certain price for having gay (grand)parents. Back in the '90s,
Now that the tragedy of Newtown has happened the guns, God, and family-values brigade is out in force. Why don't people think before they stand up in front of an entire press corps (or post semi-ridiculous Facebook memes)?
Having armed gunmen in place didn't help at Columbine, which had an armed guard, didn't help at Virginia Tech, which had its own police force, and didn't help at Fort Hood - which is an Army base for Pete's sake. And while I'm on the topic, putting God back in the schools may or may not have value. But it's sure as hell not the reason that Newtown happened. After all - priests and ministers of all persuasions have a long history of sexually abusing children in places of God. So really? Let's stop with all the knee-jerk platitudes and do some real critical thinking and rational discourse. There are solutions out there - we just have to be intelligent and engaged humans and get out there and find them.