It's interesting to me how a major life event can drastically change your perspective on things.

I've written before that my wife, Tabitha, and I are expecting our first child sometime in mid-late December. That one, singular thing — albeit a big one — has the power to make someone look at the world completely differently.

It happened this week with a song that I've heard many times before, but listening to it — really listening to it — from the perspective of becoming a father packed an emotional wallop I wasn't quite prepared for.

Of course, this also applies to how we react to the news. Thursday, there was a mass shooting at a college in Oregon. Too many are dead, too many are wounded. "Too many" also describes the number of such incidents that have happened over the last several years.

In the social media age, it doesn't take long for the debates to start.

"Mentally ill, blah, blah, blah."

"Too much access to guns, blah, blah, blah."

"Guns aren't the problem, blah, blah, blah."

"We need more guns, blah, blah, blah."

Go to your Facebook news feed right now and find a post relating to this shooting. Read the comments, if you dare. Are you seeing civilized discourse? Are you seeing people coming around to a different point of view, one way or the other?

Not likely. What you're probably seeing is a lot of "stand-my-ground" vitriol, bordering on hate. It's an ugly world, which gets even uglier in the comments section.

We're not capable of having meaningful conversations on the big topics like race, violence, basic economic principles, etc.

Those who are willing to speak loudly also speak frequently, drowning out any reasonable point of view.

Whenever there's an incident like the one in Oregon, there's call for change. We need new laws. We need fewer laws. Whatever.

What we "need" is to change the way we talk to each other. There is zero respect for another person's point of view on almost any subject. There's only, "I'm right and you're a jerk."

Then I think about my sweet daughter, less than 80 days from coming into this world. What kind of world is she coming into? We, as her parents, can create a space for her, to a degree. We can make her room pretty and make sure she is dressed nicely. We'll teach her to speak and write properly and try to make her care for others. We'll also teach her respect for those around her.

But, at some point, the world will get ahold of her. What happens then? Are others, the people she'll interact with on a daily basis, learning the same lessons?

Go back to that comment section, now, that I directed you to earlier. Are you seeing care and respect?

You can only control what you can control, I suppose. We can't control who our daughter comes into contact with. What we hope to able to influence, though, is that she'll have a positive impact on the world. That she won't fill your comments section with ugliness, but will be an agent of change.

In order to do that, you have to be able to listen. To me, that's the problem. Everybody wants to talk, but nobody wants to listen.

These are major issues facing us and we can get through them. But change has to happen together, or it won't happen at all.

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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