Trucks and guns. Both are supported by huge organizations with deep pockets, organizations that donate heavily to congressional campaigns. Organizations that expect their contributions to protect their interests.
I’ve been fighting the uphill battle of anti-truck safety issues for a very long time. And as I watch the unfolding events after this latest mass shooting I am reminded once again that those fighting for gun law reform are climbing a similar mountain. A friend re-posted an article about the progress gun law reformers have made joining forces and gaining support. It sounds familiar, though with the media coverage mass shootings get it looks like their cause is getting more celebrity support and funding than our mission has to date. Still, even with funding, fighting the NRA, just like fighting the ATA, will always be a David and Goliath battle.
I’ve been thinking about these battles, ours against big trucking pushing anti-safety agendas, theirs against fervent gun owners pushing gun rights at all costs. If I’ve learned anything in my fight it’s that there is not always clear and obvious right and wrong. Sometimes, but not always. And I’ve learned that time spent listening to the other side without letting trigger words wash over my mind and emotions is worth the effort.
But both sides need to listen without talking over the top of each other.
What I’m seeing on television, as usual, is that no one is listening to anyone else. Everyone is talking loudly about their point of view. Maybe that’s good television, but it’s not going to resolve anything. We have learned that on some issues we need to work with truck companies, and I think there are going to be issues in the gun control fight where both sides have to compromise for the good of everyone.
But no one will be able to figure out where compromise is possible as long as both sides are busy building walls and flinging grenades of accusations, some true, some not, over those walls. In order to make progress and make the world a little safer everyone needs to look for ways to work together. These are complicated issues, with heavily entrenched views.
Nothing is easy when big industries and lots of money is at stake. But there’s always more than one route to problem resolution. We need to work together to find those options. We can’t continue on the way we are, arguing loudly, resolving nothing, the chasm between sides growing wider and deeper. We need to listen to each other, recognize the kernels of compromise hidden in the rhetoric and begin the difficult work.
Change is hard.