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All of us are feeling rage, sadness, and hopelessness following yet another tragic school shooting last week. As a parent of young children, I have cried with other parents, and we have all had the heartbreaking conversation with our kids, telling them, yes, indeed, this is something that happens in America, in schools just like yours.

And in response to these events, we see the public discourse so impoverished of meaning and complexity, with opinions dug deep into their sound bites of “Guns don’t kill people, people do” and “We should thank our children for sacrificing their life for your right to bear arms.”

Both of these slogans demonstrate false “either/or” thinking that the ancient Greeks warned about in their writings on democracy—and, instead of promoting peace, sow division.

We must find new ways of talking with each other, and about these issues, if we want a safer, more peaceful, and less violent world for our children. How can we look for a “both/and” instead of “either/or”?

Gun ownership has, throughout our history, been an essential element of the American story. We can admit this as a fact, while at the same time admitting that easy access to guns, particularly assault style weapons, makes mass shootings possible.

It is not fair to our children to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this is not the case. More guns, on more people, will only precipitate more violence, with our sacred learning places turned into prisons and our educators into guards.

The words of scripture urge us to not “repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing.”

One way to “repay with a blessing” instead of “abuse” is to engage in the democratic process. The democratic process is designed to support a society where solutions to problems can be found peacefully, without resorting to violence.

Through civic discourse and respectful listening, reaching out to our elected representatives, voting, and legislating, we can work together to find both/and solutions.

I hope we can rise to the challenge since our children need us to do so, now more than ever.  

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