Something I learned very quickly after starting my first teaching job is that you will never know just how much you affect people. At times like this it's easy to lose your cool after repeating the same thing over and over, or to just want to throw in the towel, thinking that you will never get through to people. It's true that there are some people you will never get through to - the japetes of the world - but those people truly are few in number, even if they are vocal. There are many more out there who are moderately on our side or moderately against us and these people we can reach - but only by realizing that our impacts go further than we know.
Over the past week and change I have been focusing my efforts on one particular forum that I have been involved with for nearly a decade. It's a forum made up almost entirely of women. Some of us have met in real life, some of us haven't. We all have one thing in common. Beyond that, we run the spectrum, including politically, with perhaps a small tendency to the left.
To be entirely honest, there were several times over the past week when I wondered why I was bothering trying to explain my position to people who felt it was okay to just insult me personally based on my beliefs. I kept at it, though, and very recently I realized how much that work had paid off.
I had received several private comments from people supporting me, which certainly helped some but those were mostly from those who agreed with me to begin with. Then one of the pro-gun control people made a public post in the forum in my support. She thought that I was being unfairly attacked. She still considers herself anti-gun, but said that her views had been softening over the past few years largely due to my influence and, while she still opposed arming teachers in general, she would have no problem with her kids being in my classroom while I was armed.
It might not seem like much, but this is huge progress, people. She came to this over time, through knowing me as a person. That is what we need. Gun owners need faces. We need to be neighbors and friends and coworkers and teachers. It's too easy to hate what doesn't have a face. So go out there and make those personal connections. But while you are making them, remember that what you do will spread further than you think. I was really astonished by what this person wrote - I hadn't expected it in the slightest. And it made up for all the moments I wanted to give up in frustration or return in kind the insults I was receiving. Reacting negatively is never worth it, especially on the internet where words are preserved. Let the vitriol and hatred come from the antis. Let us continue to respond logically and civilly. The differences will be obvious to those who are quietly watching, and those are the majority we need to win over. Make yourself known, but as you do, make sure that you never forget that you are representing all of us, every moment.
Two young adults talking about personal responsibility, public service, civic preparedness, and whatever else crosses our minds.
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