2018 is barely through month two, the second month, the one with the fewest days but the shortest tempers. In Northern New England we all get a bit grumpy in February, because its still winter. The snow becomes ice, the ice becomes rain and mud and we know that it will be two more months before we feel the warmth of the sun. Many of us will escape to warmer climates for a few days, just to remind ourselves that not everyone wears a winter coat for six solid months.
In my new novel, Aesop Lake, the second fable is about persuasion. The story of a person who is wearing a jacket and becomes the focus of a battle between the north wind and the sun, both believing that they can get the individual to remove their jacket. The wind blows, and the person tightens their grip, pulling the jacket closer. The sun sends brilliant and warm rays, and the person not only loosens their grip, but takes off their jacket, willingly.
I’m reminded of the persuasive posts on social media this month. The thousands of youth across the country who are tired of being gunned down in their schools. They want to persuade the government to take action to ban assault rifles, to legislate universal back ground checks, and increase the funding for mental health services that might prevent someone from again getting their hands on a weapon and killing their peers, or them. The adults, to-date, haven’t been able to persuade the President or Congress to take action. They don’t seem to be moved by people yelling, or staging sit-ins, or calling them out. Is this because the NRA has found a way to provide the warming rays of sunshine, that comes in the form of campaign funds? Or is it because politicians are afraid of the gun-lobby? Are they being bullied into voting against these proposals?
I’ve been listening to both sides of the issue, reading articles posted by family and friends, some who want to persuade me that guns are not the issue, and some who want persuade me that its all about guns. I don’t think its that simple. We have a lot of challenges in our current culture, and the combination of them has led to children dying. Isn’t it time to come together and listen to each other? To put aside distaste for each other’s point of view and try to find some common ground? Clearly, staying stuck is not working. Try checking out Better Angels and learn ways to enter into a dialogue with others who have a different view point than you have.
The power of persuasion is both an individual experience and a collective one. I hope we are able to use the collective one for good, and better outcomes for our children and youth in their schools.