Dear Editor:


According to all the usual fake news sources, the Florida state legislature has rejected a plea from survivors of the Parkland, Florida school murders. The plea asked for a debate on new gun legislation. Legislators justified the rebuff on grounds that the survivors of the tragedy were “too emotional.”  

Well, of course they were emotional; it would be shocking if they weren’t. But the justification given by legislators is not without broad support among reasonable adults: Don’t let your heart run away with your head. Let us cool down; let the dust settle.

There are indications, however, that the survivors of the Florida shootings, joined by survivors of the many other events of its kind, will not cool down anytime soon. Nor should they.

Most psychologists these days will agree that emotions too often get a bad rap. The dynamics of evolution, they will say, have graciously equipped us with a suite of emotional systems because our emotions are, by and large, life savers. If you’re not afraid of the hungry lion, then you probably won’t run away. That sort of thing. Emotions are the sources of motivation (emotive=motive).

Maybe the problem in Florida has less to do with families that are “too emotional,” and more to do with politicians that are too insensitive; too Spock-like to be moved to take reasonable action. Yes, of course, politicians will fall all over themselves with professions of sympathy. “Our thoughts and prayers,” they effuse, “are with the families impacted by this horrible event.”

That’s it? Their sympathy has all the irresistible force it takes to motivate them to take a knee and pray? Seriously?

Forgive me, and forgive the hundreds of families damaged by gun violence, if I insist that I’m not buying it. Sympathy that produces nothing but prayer is simply not enough sympathy. Genuine sympathy will demand action that can be measured by change within one’s sphere of influence, and the sphere of influence for legislators is legislation.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst is one of the top-ten recipients of campaign largess doled out by the National Rifle Association? Yep; in excess of $3 million. But Joni is really sympathetic with Floridian families. She even said she is praying for them.

For my part, I am sympathetic with poor Joni. Just imagine all that praying. Maybe we should all pray for reasonably strict gun laws so that our leaders won’t have to spend so much time and effort in prayer for bereaved families.

On second thought, I’ve decided to pray instead for a complete reform of campaign finance laws. As long as elections are purchased by the likes of the NRA, our “sympathetic” politicians will remain beyond the reach of both prayer and reason.


Loyal Rue 

Decorah