Come this November, Americans will attempt to make a decision that will drastically change our future: the selection of a presidential administration. As usual, the dialogue will break into two factions. Fierce partisanship is accepted and embraced part of American politics and society, sadly. Although many of us find this unhealthy and unsatisfactory, we stand helpless as discussions break down into mutual counter-demonizing. I'm personally convinced that my countrymen need to learn to understand one another.
Gun control. Bang — that wasn't a bullet, but the unleashing of slogan-slinging, chest-beating, and NRA membership card-waving. All of this is in vain, naturally: there's no way guns are going to leave our metaphorical hands, even if they are cold and dead. Personally, I like rifles; I think they are attractive, always have. I'm not a gun control advocate, nor am I an NRA member or gun nut. I just don't think it is much of an issue. I still hear people talk about it, and what I hear isn't pretty: 'gun nuts' don't even seem to consider the 'other side' of the debate human. The following is an experience to help these people understand:
Back in the mid-nineties, I lived in Rattan, Oklahoma. I went to the Rattan elementary, and was taught society and history by a white-haired woman named Mrs. Hawkins. She was a good speaker, wonderful at breaking ideas down, and very opinionated. She was a member of the NRA, and made it a point to slip a pro-gun argument or rant into every single class period. Another student, a neighbor, shared one my classes with this woman: Donny. He lived right across the street from us on our rural country road, and it was all beautiful land. I spent a great amount of time wandering our back property alongside some black cattle a family friend kept on our pastures. I was standing by the pond one day when a shot rang out and I felt something fly past my head. I looked to my side, and a high dirt hill on the side of the pond had a plume of dust pouring up and out of it. I ran, jumped the fence, and saw Donny standing amongst the pines behind the short wire fence on his side of the road. He was holding a rifle. I asked him, “Was that you that fired that shot earlier?”
“Yeah.” he tonelessly stated, looking at something on a tree.
“Why?” I asked, annoyed.
He spit and answered “Th' Some birds on the fence.” in his heavy accent. He wasn't even looking at me.
I wasn't going to question why he thought the supposed birds' infraction of sitting on the fence was worthy of death, but instead summoned my best matter-of-fact tone to say “Oh, because that shot almost hit me.”
“Oh.” he said with crushing ambivalence.
“In the head, Donny! That shot almost hit me in the head!”
He finally looked at me, and not a hint of regret was on his face. In fact, he looked rather annoyed at my frustration. “So?”
I shook my head, confused, and went home. The next day in Mrs, Hawkins's class, she went off on a pro-gun-ownership rant, but all I could think was he almost killed me. I knew it would have been an accident, but the facts were still the same: he almost killed me. I thought it over and over again, in every argument Mrs. Hawkins made, every rant, and every time I saw him. That idiot almost killed me. For the next few years, I was secretly all for gun control. Now I realize that any NRA member would have beat the shit out of Donny for his carelessness and irresponsibility, but that never occurred to me back then.
This is not an argument for gun control, but instead an episode of my life that illustrates what people who believe in gun control might have rolling around in their minds. This wasn't to change minds, but instead to expand minds by revealing the possible contents of other minds, nothing more. The same for the following:
In high school, I had to take a class named “Current Issues.” The class involved discussions, exercises, and simple assignments that would increase our knowledge of the political and social world around us. In other words, forcing students into discussion of controversial topics. A friend and I quickly lost authentic interest in this and spent most of our time discretely mocking the entire affair and the opinions of our fellow students — it was great fun, I'd do it again if we could. One of the controversial subjects was abortion. I despised this part of the class because we were forced to choose sides, and I simply did not care either way.
During the arguments, it became clear that it was a matter of personal philosophy. When does a human becomes so and deserves life? This isn't a scientific question, it's a philosophical one, and attempts at a solid answer only 'work' for the self. Regardless, people on both sides seem rather sure of themselves, and assert that they are Right, and the opposing group Wrong. If anyone is to ask why I don't care for the issue, I will point them at this paragraph.
I could move from controversial topic to controversial topic, but I prefer to end it here; I've set a precedent for controversy in general. As my dear ol' dad said earlier, “I think the biggest devil we have is partisanship. One side says something, the other side automatically answers the opposite.” The dialogue is broken in America: “liberal” has become a curse-word and Fox News is “Fair and Balanced.” We've grown dishonest to one another and ourselves, and we have only ourselves to blame.
On Star Ocean 2, there's a “super specialty skill” called “comprehension.” The description is only these words: “Learn to understand.” I find this moving, because that's what all my country needs to do to fix many of it's problems: learn to understand.
COMPREHENSION SUPER SPECIALTY SKILL ACTIVATE!
Now for the funny word! This one will make you sound like you have a mouthful of marbles. No, it isn't “mrbthfflmp.” It's liberaler! Liberal... er! More liberal! Try saying it at different speeds. Now try “laughrolleroffer” over and over again. Ha ha! This is fun.