THE BLOG

Florida, Guns, and a Failure of Imagination

What will it take? Not this. This won't change anything. An apparent terrorist? Fifty or more gay men? What about 20 cute little children between the ages of 6 and 7 at Sandy Hook? Nope. Dozens of other mass shootings this year? Nope. Thousands of gun murders every year? Nope.

What will be enough for the NRA and those who share its views? I have asked this before and will ask it again: Could we have a number, please? How many deaths do you want before you allow our laws to change? Fifty is a horrible number, but as a person who uses his imagination to make a living, it's not at all hard to imagine a mass shooting leading to 1000 deaths all in one go. It would not be so hard. Maybe it would take two people, or three.

And it will happen. If that's what the NRA insists on... it will happen.

There ought to be a crime "Resisting the Historically Obvious," and the punishment should be the firing squad. There will be changes to the gun laws, obviously, sooner or later. Just look at other countries with strict gun laws and what their homicide numbers are like compared to ours.

Apart from science and a couple of local issues, I've written more about guns and LGBT rights than any other subjects. That these two issues come together here is terrible - but infuriatingly relevant to the point I want to make. Look at gay marriage in America. Despite the fact that gay marriage was resisted with fervor by preachers and their flocks, by homophobes, by conservative politicians and other cowards - these dogs biting at the pant legs of progress - gay marriage (and other gay rights) came to be. Having stopped progress for decades and made people's lives miserable for decades, these people essentially said, "Oh, well, guess I was wrong." Yes, and for the LGBT community, and for the rest of us who care about life and other lives, us humanists, us generous people, us open people, us people with imaginations - we've been seething for decades, apoplectic, our hearts blowing up with frustration waiting for you cruel laggards to catch up.

No, actually it probably won't be a large number of deaths that turns things around. It will be one pretty white child, the offspring of a powerful Republican, perhaps. What's that phrase, "A million deaths is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy"?

Of course, a single death is not a tragedy if it's someone else's kid and you have no imagination. And in the end, this is what it all comes down to. A lack of imagination. I am not a believer, but in honor of the gay people who died, and as a message to those who are still blind to the obvious, many of them fundamentalist Christians, I'd like to leave this piece with two quotes from Oscar Wilde, a believer but one who most admired Christ for something most people overlook.

"Christ's place is indeed with the poets. His whole conception of Humanity sprang right out of the imagination and can only be realized by it..." "The imagination itself is the world of light. The world is made by it, and yet the world cannot understand it: that is because the imagination is simply a manifestation of love, and it is love and the capacity for it that distinguishes one human being from another."

Along with everyone else who is capable of love, I send condolences to the friends and relatives of all the victims of this latest tragic failure of the imagination.