We are all horrified by yet another mass shooting in our country. Like many of you reading this, I’ve heard the news reports and read the articles which lay out what needs to change in our country to stop these kinds of events. Do we need stricter gun control laws?
Does better provision need to be made for mental health? Does the breakdown of family life in our country need to be addressed?
Does a healthier model of masculinity need to be exercised in our culture?
Depending on who you read, one or another of the above or yet other responses are proposed as what we need to do to stop these tragic events. My thought: yes. Yes to all of the above.
One of the worst ways to solve a complex problem is to adopt an “either/or” approach when a “both/and” mindset is needed. So many of the TV reports and news articles I’ve read in the past ten days have adopted the former way of looking at the issue arguing which one approach should be taken. I’ve seen very few that see that the issue is broader than any one solution can adequately address.
The “both/and” approach is a hallmark of Catholic thought.In theology, it can be seen in much of what we believe:Scripture and Tradition, Faith and Works, Grace and Nature.Synthesis, not division, is how Catholics think.
Obviously, it’s easier to take the “either/or” view of issues.It’s easier to think that if we find that one perfect solution,everything will be fixed. It makes things more complicated to have to balance different factors of a solution to some problem. At the same time, the “both/and” approach to problem solving is able to address the many sides of an issue. With such a complex topic such as how to properly respond to mass shootings, we are obviously dealing with a complex issue.
What does taking this approach mean for us? First, when consuming media, do we do so with a discerning ear and eye? Do we take the time to balance the merits of every argument made for one approach or another on its own terms, and not because of any particular attachment or disgust for who is making the argument? Do we take the time to form our own reasoned view of an issue? And, when the time comes to vote, does our reason guide us in the candidates and causes we choose to support?
Legal and policy changes are not the whole solution to mass shootings, but they are a part of it. As Christians, we Pray for God’s Grace to bring healing and guidance to this situation. As citizens, we accept this guidance in how we act and vote. Again it’s a “both/and” approach.