The earliest lessons of this country that I learned in school included the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. My teachers taught us how his vision extended beyond what his eyes told him. Unlike those who believed that the horizon defined the edge of the world, Columbus proved that horizons can hide greater promise. This education came for me at a time when America was aiming men in rockets at the sky, not knowing exactly what was there, but forging ahead nonetheless., The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were the ships among the first fleet of voyages beyond the horizons of our world, followed by other ships in projects named Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Having the courage and tenacity to meet the impossible is in our nation’s history and in the American DNA. From planting the seeds of democracy to planting a flag on the moon, we have proven that when our hearts are right, we don’t just rise to a challenge. We transcend it.
This country was founded on impossible dreams and predictable failure. The Revolution seemed an impossible win. Democracy was an unproven theory. The Declaration of Independence promised death to those who dared to put their signature to it. Reuniting a country when secession fractured it cleanly in half seemed unlikely. But we are here today because the naysayers did not have the last word. The dreamers did.
We have a formidable obstacle with guns. Some will state all the reasons this national dilemma cannot be resolved. If we were any other country, they might be right. The sheer number of weapons and their chilling capacity to kill with increased efficiency seems an impossible problem to reverse, much less control. Some don’t even see it as a problem and blame other variables, while a lobbying organization deeply embedded in the pockets of our legislators is powerful enough to influence government in the face of differing and prevailing national sentiment. For those of us seeking leadership that prioritizes national safety, these hurdles are discouraging. But it is worth remembering that we have faced worse, from binding a nation back together in 1865 to walking on the moon in 1969. It is easy to forget how improbable it is just to be an American today. Obstacles have never defined us. How we surmounted them has.
I salute the #NeverAgain #GunControl movement. The younger generation of Americans untethered by their elders’ pessimism will cross the next horizon. It is increasingly evident that an unregulated gun culture and the safety of our children are mutually exclusive. We are at the crossroads, and our actions – or inactions – will define our choice.
From Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook to Parkland and, most recently, to Santa Fe, Texas, thoughts and prayers have proven as hollow as the lack of legislative effort to even study the issue. I respect that there are those who will cite the second amendment as immutable. I would remind them that our founding fathers are long gone. They thought their way through the problems of their day—bold, new ideas that defied more pessimistic conventional wisdom. They handed down to us what they have learned in their time. I doubt they would have expected us to stop learning in ours.
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