#Progress #Stonewalling #Listening #Editorial #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
Another weekend, another rally will assemble at the state Capitol.
Few days go by without someone standing in front of the grand staircase that faces the Hudson River, with a catchy phrase to protest some act that someone did somewhere. This is Albany, the seat of our state’s government. So, of all the people in all the counties — 62, to be exact — who feel like they are not being heard, they come here. Just about everyday.
This Friday, we’re looking at another rally. Local high school students are gathering on the west lawn of the Capitol, as they did last month, to bring up the topic of gun violence in schools. As was last month’s rally, it’s a local event that coincides with a nationwide effort. The hundreds of students who stood and chanted in unison in Albany, did so as thousands more did the same in Florida, Connecticut, Colorado and more. Those states just seem to come to mind, unfortunately, with relative ease.
Last weekend another rally assembled at the state Capitol, that of people speaking out to demand the preservation of our country’s Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Our newsroom learned of it through emails and messages from people outside our coverage area, so we treated it like the countless of other protests in front of the Capitol. Though we’re hyper local with our news coverage, it is a discussion worth at least a mention here. Because, no matter how loud the voice, or how popular the person who is speaking may be, there is a debate going on. In a debate, all sides must be heard.
Therein lies the problem nowadays. There is a subtle art to act of debating, in that is, you need to be able to listen as attentively as you speak eloquently. If we ever possessed this talent, we’ve since lost it. Instead of working towards an agreement, and arbitration to satisfy both sides, we often choose to believe that the loudest voice, and the one with the sharpest barbs, ultimately wins.
Someone in our newsroom noticed that our local students would be gathered together on April 20, which marijuana enthusiasts have called upon as their day. And, in all likelihood, someone else is bound to make the same observation and somehow make a connection between these high school kids and pot. It’s an easy target. These kids have been made out to be figurative targets over the past weeks. And, so have gun enthusiasts. The barbs have been flying freely.
The day, however, has nothing to do with marijuana. There is no correlation, and should you laugh it off anyhow and decide to be clever, be sure your brush up on your history, too. It was one year short of two decades ago that we were all shocked by the news of two, heavily armed students firing upon their classmates at Columbine High School. Here we are, 19 years later, and the mention of Littleton or Columbine is synonymous with the term mass murder. Go ahead and say Sandy Hook. Say Virginia Tech. Now, what about Marjory Stoneman? It’s an ugly game of word association.
Let’s play another round of word association and start with the National Rifle Association. How about Second Amendment preservation? Gun owner? How you stand determines how your answer is swayed, if swayed at all. If you hear yourself saying redneck, conservative or uneducated — to use family-friendly terms — you are standing too far from center. You won’t be able to debate your side of the argument standing that far away from the podium, because you can’t hear the other side.
If you can’t listen, you’re stonewalling any potential progress from being realized.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.