Saturday, April 21, 2007

Resolving Differences. BLAM! BLAM!

In the days following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I've been fascinated by the battle of beliefs.

Some folks believe that had other students been armed, the gunman wouldn't have gotten as far as he did. The shooting bolsters their advocacy for legally owning and carrying firearms.

Other folks believe this is one more tragedy that would have been prevented with stricter gun control laws.

Each side has plenty of research and statistics to substantiate their claims, each side repudiates the research of the other, and neither side can comprehend the other's beliefs.

I think this is a pretty good demonstration of people observing the same event and drawing diametrically opposed conclusions. It's a phenomenon that happens, unseen, hundreds of times a day. Most of the time, we assume others think like we do. It's only when we stop keeping our thoughts and opinions to ourselves that disputes arise... and we have to collaborate on how we want to live together, what values we share, and what behaviors we are (or aren't) willing to tolerate.

I've been disappointed that the NVC and Social Change discussion list never mentioned the Virginia Tech shooting: not to offer prayers; not to discuss how NVC could have changed anything, at any step along the long path; not to discuss how NVC might have a measurable effect on preventing this kind of occurrence. I had hoped that people so focused on reducing violence would have something to contribute to the discussion.

NVC talks about "Empathy before Education" and "Connection before Correction," and I've seen little of this in the conversations about gun control. (I've heard lots of ridicule, however - each side saying the other must be brain damaged to hold the views they do). I like NLP's S.O.A.R. process.

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