Watching the differing responses from Left and Right to the Florida school shooting perfectly captures fundamental differences in Left and Right thinking.
After the school shooting news broke yesterday, I quickly pounded out a few thoughts based in large part on data from and reactions to past shootings. Now that there is more data available, and I’ve had more time to think about things, I’d like to add a larger, more philosophical point.
In my mind, I categorized what happened as a terrible tragedy. A Progressive friend, however, called the shooting a disaster and was upset that I preferred to say tragedy. I understand why my friend was upset, because there’s a world of difference in the way in which we view bad things in the world.
To explain this, I need to pull back and point to a practically prescient article Dennis Prager wrote earlier this week, riffing off his regular inquiries into the nature of happiness, about the different ways in which conservatives and Progressives view the world:
Unhappy conservatives generally believe they are unhappy because life is inherently difficult and tragic, and because they have made some unwise decisions in life.
But unhappy liberals generally believe they are unhappy because they have been persecuted.
From these simple statements, one can deduce that conservatives have a grimmer view of the world, but feel a greater sense of control. That latter point matters because the most frustrating thing in the world is responsibility without control.
Meanwhile, Progressives, even as they ostensibly believe the world and mankind can be perfected, also believe that, when this perfection fails to manifest itself, there is nothing they, as individuals can do. Even in times of peace and plenty, when people should mostly be happy, they feel victimized and abandoned. Talk about a frustrating loss of control.
These philosophical differences inevitably lead to different responses, not just to happiness, but to shattering events. Before I proceed with this idea, let me point out again that I am talking about times of peace and plenty. The person who can be happy and in control in a Nazi or North Korean concentration camp, in an ISIS-controlled village, or while being eaten by a bear is a rare person indeed. No, what I’m talking about is ordinary life, with its ordinary ups and downs and its ordinary tragedies.
When I see what happened in Florida, as a parent I naturally think “there but for the grace of God go I,” and I hope devoutly that something like this never befalls my children. I have the deepest sympathy for the victims and their families. I’d like to have empathy, but my imagination is limited and I truly cannot grasp the immensity of losing one’s child in such a senseless way.
However, I do not see what happened as a disaster. To me, a disaster is something of greater scope than this: a disaster is 3,000 Americans dying over the course of an hour in targeted terror attacks; a disaster is thousands of acres and homes burning across the West; a disaster is a hurricane wiping out the levees allowing the Gulf to inundate a major American citizen; a slow-moving disaster is the scourge of opiates killing Americans in unprecedented numbers; and the endless body count in Democrat-run inner cities. Maybe I’m being an English-language obsessive, but tragedies play out on a smaller, more personal scale.
It is possible that foresight could have prevented the tragedy in Florida. The perpetrator turns out to have been so many things we know are dangerous: He’d experienced profound, traumatic loss in life, because his adoptive father died before he hit his teens and his adoptive mother died unexpected from the flu just months ago; he may have been on psychotropic drugs; he was obsessed with any kind of violence and killing and flirted with both Antifa and the Alt-Right [a very rude Leftist advises me that the Antifa photo is not this Cruz, so I’m passing that assertion on to y’all]; people were aware of his propensities and were afraid of him; and even the FBI had been warned about him but, despite having his name, couldn’t figure out who he was.
(As an aside, we know that he was not affiliated with local white supremacists which didn’t surprise me because most of his victims were white. Cruz was an equal opportunity hater. Still, a credulous media desperately wanted him to be a white supremacist and reported an unsourced claim as actual news, because that’s what the modern media does.)
In any event, the tragedy wasn’t avoided, and 17 vital young people on the cusp of life died.
With those poor, broken bodies still lying on the ground, Democrats began demanding more gun control. They did this despite not knowing the facts and despite the fact that I’m struggling to think of any mass shooting that gun control (as opposed to nationwide gun confiscation) could have prevented. This is the typical Progressive victim mindset: You demand protection. It’s the weapons; it’s the NRA; it’s the racial hate. It’s all stuff that we can perfect through more legislation and government control.
Meanwhile, conservatives are looking deeper, and what they’re looking at isn’t government ukases, which always promise protection, but never provide it. Instead, they’re looking at societal changes that only individuals can effectuate. [Read more…]