Each known for their frequent fervor, the two surprised me this past week. In a good way.
The conversation began on Twitter — and consistent with said venue, that was neither the surprise nor the good. (Twitter is also not a “conversation.”)
Unsurprisingly, it began with a passionate topic. And isn’t that the reality? The more passionate we are about an issue — the deeper our conviction — the more likely we are to succumb to the societal lure that respect is not only no longer necessary, but not even wise to employ. This conversation, friends, began with gun control.
Let’s face it. It’s a tough topic. Proponents of more gun control legislation believe the 2nd Amendment was intended for militias and that gun violence would be reduced. Opponents believe the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns and that gun ownership deters crime rather than causes more.*
The interaction began when actress/activist/active-tweeter Alyssa Milano posed a question regarding the existence of any Biblical passage stating that gun ownership is a “God-given right.”
Attorney/Senator/equally-active-tweeter Ted Cruz responded with a lengthy series of tweets.
After Cruz’s response, Milano challenged him specifically: “I’d love to come in and meet with you on the gun issue and many other issues that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, @tedcruz and also, 1 Peter 4:8. I’ll be in DC next week. We can live-stream the meeting so the American people can hear your bullshit 1st hand.”
Fascinatingly, Cruz then welcomed the idea. The two sat down on Tuesday.
Afterward, Milano shared about her experience through a CNN op-ed [Note: all emphasis mine]:
“… Cruz and I agree on very little. He is a stalwart conservative; I am a committed progressive… On issue after issue we have fundamentally different views on freedom and humanity and our government.
So why did I agree to meet with him? What could we possibly accomplish when we have such diametrically opposed views on, well, everything?
… I met with the senator because we can’t fix the problems that face this nation unless we talk with people who disagree with us. The truth is that no matter what happens in the 2020 election, there will always be two parties in the Senate which will be close to evenly divided. If we keep living solely in our echo chambers, we will only hear what we ourselves say. And our nation will continue to suffer.
I know we didn’t change his mind on how we fix gun violence in America. And he didn’t change ours. But maybe we understand one another a little better. Here’s what I came away with that I wasn’t so sure of before the meeting: Ted Cruz is a human being. He is a real person. He isn’t a villain in a movie. He cares when these shootings happen. When people on my side of this fight say he doesn’t, they’re wrong.
I hope he came away with the fact that we are caring people, and supporters of the Second Amendment, just not unlimited gun rights. I hope he recognizes a little bit more the fear parents have throughout the country…
Ninety percent of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, agree that we need a fix to the problem of gun violence in this country. Maybe by talking to each other as humans, with open hearts and listening to each other with open ears, we can inspire our leaders to do the same.
Isn’t it worth a try? For your children. For my children. For us all.”
Here are two people who truthfully, have not been known for their consistent expressions of respect. Here are two people who could have remained hidden behind their keyboards, where — let’s face it — disrespect is always easier. And here are two people — representative of most of the rest of us — who probably felt like the other person was worse, lesser, bad, evil, amoral, you-name-it primarily because they disagree.
Then they met face-to-face; they listened to one another; and things changed.
Want to make progress on this issue and more?
Perhaps we surprise ourselves by stopping the judgment, stopping the disrespect, and quit hiding behind our keyboards. As Milano said, “We can’t fix the problems that face this nation unless we talk with people who disagree with us.” They are real people, too.