Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Too Much Information

This is the era of TMI - “too much information”. I am new to blogging and already I am worried about speaking too much too often about things I know too little of.

Blogs are supposed to be for philosopher wannabe’s like me. And yet it isn’t writer’s block that is giving me pause about joining the latest fray over the latest controversy. I ask myself: What do I have to say that can add to the conversation and not just to the din and clatter of the disgruntled? What can I say that hasn’t already been said?

The issues of the day are those that keep coming back into our collective consciousness because of current events. Gun violence and how to address it, poverty, unemployment, government intrusion into our lives… These are just a few. There are all kinds of information available about these topics. You can find a study or a statistic to back up any point of view. So when does common sense finally take precedence over the reactionary mob mentality which seems to prevail in these conversations?

For example, a few days ago cable news pundits were debating about whether legally blind people should ever be denied the right to own, carry, and presumably use a hand gun. Trying to defend a blind person’s right to carry a gun is ridiculous. Sure, a legally blind person might still have some vision, but if they can’t see who or what they are shooting at, they have no business using a gun. If you can’t be cleared to drive a car why would anyone clear you to carry a gun?

Listening to people bend over backwards to give this concern a full hearing was really sad. As some of these folks were talking you could see by the look on their faces that they were not buying their own arguments. You could see them experience cognitive dissonance in real time. Their brain was disagreeing with their mouth. Some of them looked like their eyes were about to cross permanently. They had to be wondering the same thing I was: How many blind people are actually so paranoid and selfish that they think carrying a gun is so important that there should be legislation to guarantee it?

In the following days we experienced yet another mass shooting by a mentally impaired and distressed individual. With a dozen people dead and more injured I could not help but think back to that ridiculous conversation about the rights of the legally blind to own and carry a gun. The real blindness is our society’s inability to see what drives these senseless acts and what needs to be done to minimize the carnage wrought with guns. I can’t site a study or a statistic to back up my premise but here goes anyway.

Common sense dictates that guns are dangerous tools which people should be licensed to carry after a background check and a 2-3 day waiting period. That is not a lot to ask. Common sense also dictates that we spend too much time talking about gun control and not enough time about mental illness. When will we learn to recognize and help people who are on the verge of causing so much destruction?

For the next few weeks there will be TMI - too much information about the shooter, too much intrusive rehashing of the terrible experience of the victims, too many inept excuses about helping the mentally ill. There will be too much inaction to address the problems that lead to mass shootings.


  1. When I first read Chester Himes' title _Blind Man With A Pistol_ I thought of it as an example of his crazy humor. And then I met a legally blind person, a customer in my bookstore, who had bumbled his way into getting some local lowlife angry enough to kick him, and had then become so nervous about the incident that he told us he'd started carrying a pistol in his briefcase. His visual defects weren't severe enough to keep him from seeing in a narrow field of vision -- but the whole affair showed another sort of narrow vision at work...

  2. Our friend told us, now that I remember it, because he'd lost the pistol.

    [This in a well-populated area downtown a few blocks from where a friend of our stepson, a policeman at the time, ended his career... Shooting at a recently-escaped prisoner, nearby, he'd killed a young woman across the street. He hadn't been at fault, simply was not able to return to that kind of job.]

    The kicking incident... We didn't see it. Our blind friend had turned his back on the lowlife while he was still angry, been kicked in the butt, called the police and went to the emergency room -- came back the next day with the gun in his briefcase. Getting involved in misunderstandings doesn't mean someone should get kicked... but neither is a gun going to help in such affairs.

  3. Can't help but notice the (vast) room for this symbolic observation: "people can be so blind!"

    What does that say about us, or point us toward in solutions? I only see it referring me to the passage about "the blind leading the blind."

    So, given that perhaps we are all blind and falling quite short of the Glory....
    I am left with your comment on mental illness and perhaps feeling a little invited toward: what are our options so that we can individually and collectively feel less fear? feel stronger in ourselves, etc.?

    I once had a conversation with a close relative who enjoyed so much going to the shooting range and was raving about how every time she went, shooting just gave her such a powerful feeling. Something swooped through me gently as I listened to her fully and gave her space. When she had shared in full, I asked "but why does the power always have to come from outside of yourself?"

    The reason I tell this is because of her response. Something got all caught in her throat, I mean ALL caught... and so poignantly, she said (mid-catch) a sort of stunned and painful "i don't know."

    What can we do about THAT??

  4. I am still fairly new to blogging and setting aside the time to answer comments but thanks for these replies...