When times become threatening, dangerous, and oppressive, we must write to show our humanity and influence others to do the same. Writing It Real member David D. Horowitz shares his thoughts. I hope that encourages others to take to the page as we wring our hands over the tragedies that are mounting at this time in our country’s history.
Friends of Patience by David D. Horowitz
Innumerable fatal shootings are committed by men against women. And many of these crimes are committed by estranged or ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends avenging themselves against a woman they believe was disloyal or overly independent. Rejection, though, does not justify retaliation. A person has the right to set relationship boundaries. This is where I would start to limit gun violence: teach men they do not own women, and women need to respect their partners’ boundaries, too. No one owns anyone else, and a breakup or divorce should never be reason for violence.
And behind this complex of gender and relationship issues simmers the unresolved tension between individualism and communitarianism in American life. For many on the political right, individualism represents heroic entrepreneurship, bold innovation, release of the great-spirited genius from the shackles of tax-addicted bureaucratic mediocrities. For many on the left, individualism represents selfish indifference to the poor and underprivileged. Likewise, many on the right stereotype communal responsibility as incipient socialistic evil, while many on the left praise the communal as responsibly compassionate and morally superior to individualism and its capitalist spawn.
Let me suggest most people need individualism and communitarianism. A pro-choice activist demands individual rights as a church-going conservative insists on developing strategies to help build strong families and cohesive congregations. A socialist commentator relies on First Amendment individual rights to present dissenting views in the public media—as a far-right commentator aims to evolve an audience into a unified alliance. Human beings are complex, and most are continually revising and calibrating the yin and yang of their particular blend of individualism and communitarianism. Let’s junk the mean-spirited stereotypes that push people to hatred and active shooter incidents against “enemies.” We have far more in common than not. Indeed, in five years someone you deem an enemy worth shooting could turn into your ideological ally. People switch political affiliations all the time—because life is complex, and we continually learn. Good! I daresay most affiliation-switchers are risk-taking explorers, not traitors and cowards.
So, before discussing the particulars of gun control legislation before Congress, I would emphasize human commonality—and not in sentimentalized terms, but with respect for others’ thorny complexity that tests but shouldn’t erode our patience.