|Change Is Possible|
In the spirit of full disclosure, I was born Canadian and am naturalized as a US citizen. That means that my core value set is often different from many of my American friends. I don't need to be armed to protect myself from my government or fellow citizens.
In addition, earlier this year – before the Aurora shooting – I witnessed a shooting incident. It was in a restaurant facility where a crazed husband stalked his wife injuring her and a friend before turning the gun on himself. The emotions of the patrons ran from: being perplexed to being catatonic to be being terrorized to being thankful. If any of the Texas diners were packing concealed heat that night they were using a table to protect themselves, not a glock.
So I have a bias. I believe the level of gun violence in the US can be reduced; not eliminated, but reduced. I believe there is more to be done than mourn the victims and pray for the families.
What can we learn for Change Management?
1. Recognize the Issue:
Rationalizing the status quo will get us nowhere. We need to accept that we are not doing enough to protect the innocent – particularly children.
2. Paint a Monet:
There is no detailed answer. We need to paint a Monet where we can kind of see a pond, a bridge, and a tree. We can fill in the details as we travel toward our aspirational vision.
3. Create Pressure Through Dialogue:
We need to talk. We need to create grass roots awareness and pressure. We need to castigate assailants and memorialize victims. We need everyone in the gun violence supply chain to feel the pressure and modify their behavior.
Be clear, I’m not talking about big government passing intrusive laws. I’m talking about a government that leads by facilitating and following. A government that funds research and creates opportunities for fact based debate.
I believe that we can create a culture that responsibly questions the national attitude toward: gun ownership; the power of firearms on our streets; and even the open worship of gun violence in our entertainment.
We can renew ourselves. We don’t need a big change in laws to control guns or their aggrandizement in our society. Prohibition and censorship are not answers. Responsibility is.
We’ve Done This Before!
Pollyanna, you say! No, historian. Look at big tobacco. Fifty years ago it was out of control. Big money in big tobacco was enticing vulnerable youth into a life of bad health and likely early death. Bogie and Bacall gave rise to the Marlboro Man and Camel’s Joe Cool as icons of our culture.
I’m not an apologist for the tobacco industry, and yes I recognize that many laws and regulations have been passed to define where big tobacco can play. However, I also recognize that public outrage – usually in the name of our children – created limitations that were inconceivable only a few decades ago. Sure, maybe it was a bad idea to let everyone smoke in packed movie houses, but now you can’t smoke on a restaurant’s outdoor patio.
We didn’t outlaw tobacco and there is no need to outlaw guns. What we did was classic change management: we recognized the issue; we envisioned an ideal future state; and we created a public dialogue that pressured big tobacco to become a responsible corporate citizen.
We know how to reduce gun violence in the US. We know how to protect our citizen’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no “paint by numbers” answer, but there is a reward.
The reward is the hard work of moving forward.