Amidst all of the tributes for Sandy Hook that will take place today, I would point to only one thing: our clear need to develop the space for an ongoing civil discourse about gun-violence and its effect on American life. Period.
There will always be divisions, anger, heated exchanges, but we must also have moments of reciprocated respect and civility. Moments—we can start with those, and only those.
Charles Blow in his New York Times op-ed today is already calling for such a demilitarized zone of discussion, and I'll close with his plea:
I thought of how productive it would be if more people with discordant views on gun regulations could have as civil a discussion as I had with my brother — full of mutual respect, adults disagreeing but not attempting to demonize, honestly searching for solutions.
The gun lobby poisons these conversations. It pumps out and promotes a never-ending stream of worst-case scenarios until it builds a level of fear and paranoia that only profits gun makers and grinds all progress to a halt.
So if you're concerned about gun-violence in this country, you might make room on your list of talking-points for civility and productive discourse: ask for it when it seems to have disappeared, and cease the conversation when it refuses to return.
That's my resolution for the New Year, which nowadays begins on December 14.