A Conservative Says…

A couple of days ago, I read an article where a man who calls himself, “Joe the Plumber”, claimed that the recent deaths of victims in the UC Santa Barbara shooting “don’t trump” his right to own a firearm.

In a letter to the parents of the 7 victims, he wrote:

“I am sorry you lost your child.  I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through right now.  But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.”

This just blows my mind.  How anyone can say such a thing, and believe so strongly in it, is beyond me.

There’s a saying that goes, “A conservative says, ‘If it hasn’t happened to me, I don’t care.’  A liberal says, ‘This should never happen to anyone, and that’s why I care.’”  And at the Davis County Convention, I recall Utah Representative Brian King saying something along the lines of, “There are a lot of things that Republicans and Democrats have in common.  There are also a lot of things that set them apart.  But I think the one thing that makes Democrats stand out the most is genuine concern for their neighbor.”  Joe the Plumber is a perfect example of what the quote and Rep. Brian King meant.

It is absolutely important to look out for yourself, and for your family.  That’s natural.  Everyone is looking out for their best interest, and it makes rational sense to do so.  But imagine how different the world would be if people were less selfish, and actually made a conscious effort to ease the lives of others, both friends and complete strangers – not necessarily to the extent that they do for their own family, but just a bit more than they do now.  I feel that the world would be a much better place.

We all have things we value, and to many, freedoms and rights are among those highly prized possessions.  But to be so insensitive to say that the death of a family member – an invaluable and irreplaceable part of any person’s life – comes before your rights?  To be clear, your right to own a gun is not being taken away at all.  New laws are being considered that are designed to make our communities safer and to protect others as well as allow those [responsible enough and] who want to own a gun to do so.  In this way, we cover all our bases, and everyone is happy.  I don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want that – everybody wins.  Joe the Plumber may place the same or even more value on his ‘constitutional rights’ as the UC Santa Barbara shooting victims’ families place on the lives on their loved ones, but neither should be devalued just the same.

We live in a world where compromises are necessary to move forward.  One person’s disagreement with another person’s is not the be-all and end-all – instead, we all need to be tolerant of each others’ opinions.  In order to live in harmony, we need to accept each others’ differences, even though we may not approve of them ourselves.  We need to see things from our opponents’ points of view and be understanding of where our enemies are coming from.  Understanding will make all the difference: The world does not revolve around you; others have wants and needs, experience the same joy and pain, and are doing what they can to make the most out of their existence just as you are.  Be respectful, be kind, and make the world a better place by thinking about ways in which you can improve the lives of others.

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