Friday, December 26, 2014

Words' Worth

You know the scene: the one where the good guy and the bad buy are in a standoff, pointing guns at one another, each waiting for the other to pull the trigger? That's tension, right? Then, because he's the good guy, he starts to talk. He says just the right things that help deescalate the situation until they both can put their guns down. It happens all the time. In the movies and on TV.
In real life? That's different. As was the case recently in Australia. Once you firearms are introduced to the negotiations. things don't turn out so well. It's not really a matter of rights. That part of the discussion will be left out of this particular rant, since the laws of Australia should have kept anything as awful as the siege on the Lindt Cafe. After talking for hours and hours, the hostages staged their own break for it, and were caught in a crossfire that they might have anticipated had they been highly trained SWAT team members. Civilians were injured. And killed. The good news? The bad guy was shot and killed too. I suspect that even now an enterprising screenwriter somewhere is working up a treatment of that sixteen hour crisis, and will have to decide just how to depict those last thirty seconds. Sixteen hours of waiting followed immediately by a hail of bullets that lasted less than a minute.
That's kind of how these things really play out. Then there's the aftermath. Ismaaiyl Brinsley had time to post his intent on Instagram before he went out and shot two NYPD officers as they sat in their patrol car. The time it took for him to pull the trigger four times on officers Liu and Ramos. Just a few minutes later, he blew his own head off. It takes seconds to manage things with guns. That's part of their unearthly power. They are like man-made lightning. Words take so much longer to change things. 
Generations, in fact. With patience and time, I continue to try and teach the with whom I come into contact to "use your words." It's a simple enough concept. It keeps the number of bruises and bloody noses to a minimum, and it creates a place where peace is still an option. It is precisely the reason why educators are so adamant about that whole "no gun" policy. When you are teaching kids how to behave in a community, putting guns into the mix is far too simple a solution. We are also more equipped to deal with the bloody noses and bruises than we are for gunshot wounds. Sticks and stones can break your bones, and words can sometimes hurt, but guns end the discussion. For better or worse. I would just as soon that the discussion went on and on, and no one had to die.  

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