Atheists are a small minority in the U.S.  Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions.  There are probably divergent views.

I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes.  It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.

As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion.  I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes.  Gun control and universal health care.

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Tom, why do you have to be so rude. Does it benefit you to be so caustic? 

Joan, you've heard or read the saying, "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen."

The kitchen is metaphor for politics, and what you consider rude is candid, direct, straightforward, etc in politics. It's also necessary for seeing through the lies that "polite" people tell.

Yes, if I am in a boiler room, I could expect to hear language fitting politics. In my kitchen, when people disagree, they spell out the disagreement in clear, concrete, terms fitting a gentleman. There is no place for insults, put-downs, trivialization, discounts, or demonization. 

You are a dear and trusted friend, Tom, one who challenges me all the time. I like your challenges. Why are you gentlemanly with me and not with others?

Thanks, Joan, for the belated clarification. I was for a while concerned that you had seen rudery(!), not frankness, in my remarks about overpopulating the earth.

Gentlemanly? Madame, I deny that slur!

I am however gentle with people who are themselves gentle or who have felt unjust violence. (There's a backstory to that but it's long and lunchtime is now.)

Oh, for goodness sakes, Tom, rub it in with your gentlemanly/madame comment. I know, I act as though I have my nose up some butt; and I know you are very gentle with me. I don't think you make any points with others when you write as though you are a thug!

Thanks Joan. It takes courage to speak up to a bully.

I don't know how being polite makes you a liar.

We can all learn from people's perspectives from different cultures. As a Canadian, I just listened to a book written by an English lady on the culture of Denmark. "My year of living Danishly". Fascinating country that ranks as the happiest in the world. I would like Canada to be more like Denmark which offers free education and better health care. Canada ranks 7th while the U.S. is not in the top ten.

It's also necessary for seeing through the lies that "polite" people tell.

Russell, with "I don't know how being polite makes you a liar," you missed the unhidden irony.

I am a slow learner, Tom, explain to me the things that are not lies, please. 

For example, 

people unthinkingly increase the earth's population;

those who rule nations do not try to reduce the population;

* those who rule nations tend to look out for the interests of some and not for others; 

* poor populations grow because of policies and practices of governments; 

* there does not have to be a poverty class, defined as not enough food to sustain healthy bodies, inadequate shelter, not enough education or healthcare, insufficient support for children and elderly;

* profits trump people and we all pay; 

*

*

You're not a slow learner, Joan, but your idealism blocks some of the information you need for realistic thinking.

I returned from the Korean War believing that old men sent young men to war so they (the old men) would have more young women for themselves. Cynicism replaced some of my idealism and blocked some of the information I needed for realistic thinking.

A few years later I joined Toastmasters and lost my fear of public speaking. Then, in Arizona's hardball politics I became more powerful and for the first time saw idealism and cynicism as evidence of powerlessness.

I agree Tom idealism and cynicism are evidence of powerlessness. 

Given that I have an idealistic strain to my character, it seems that to be otherwise renders me powerless. With all the chaos taking place, with members of our august group calling each other names, with the blame game taking off at rocket speed, my only and best recourse is to set a vision of a preferred future and then build toward that. 

There is no reason we can't hear each other out, even if some of us are unrealistic. We deal with probabilities that things will turn out badly. We should be able to take in information from each member of our group, think about the options, select one or more that have a possibility of seeing it happen. If we are wise, we can select the outcomes that we prefer and work toward that end. 

Cynicism is not my style. Someone else will have to work on that one. 

* We need to take a serious look at family planning. 

* We need to think seriously about eating lower on the food chain. 

* We need to stop name calling and stop blaming others.

* We need to face what is real instead of creating a make-believe world. 

* We need to express ourselves assertively without fear of being called a name or blaming each other. 

* We need to listen with an "active ear" to hear the possibilities of others' ideas. 

* We need to identify differences. 

* We need to find common ground.

* We need to negotiate and compromise. 

* We need to act as though we are mentally healthy, mature, adult human beings. 

The skeptics society embraces science and reason. Are there any social models with millions of people that have a smaller gap between the haves and the have nots, rewards work, competes well against other countries ... and in this case does not have a gun problem. What does the cynic and idealist say about being powerless with that working model evidence. If it exists, then we can't say humankind is incapable of achieving some of Joan's idealistic goals. I wrote a brief review of an English woman's experience in Denmark. One thing she mentioned in her book was that society insisted the rich CEO's son went to the same schools and got the same opportunities as the postman's son. Canada could learn some things from Denmark. The U.S. could also learn something from this country

You wrote further down in the thread, too deep to "Reply" to directly:

"One thing she mentioned in her book was that [Danish] society insisted the rich CEO's son went to the same schools and got the same opportunities as the postman's son."

That reminds me of an NPR interview with US journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, "How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By 'Individual Choices'", in which she talks about having chosen not to send her daughter to a private school, because she doesn't deserve more than other kids -- or, rather, other kids don't deserve less than her:

"I think that we can't say 'This school is not good enough for my child' and then sustain that system. I think that that's just morally wrong. If it's not good enough for my child, then why are we putting any children in those schools?"

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