Three examples from recent weeks leap to mind.
One is this week’s resignation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman James Schwab, claiming pressure put on him to support misleading statements about ICE raids in California. Schwab said statements about hundreds of “criminal aliens” escaping capture because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the public weren’t true.
“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” Schwab said. Interestingly, he added that he didn’t support Schaaf’s actions, but he wasn’t willing to deflect questions with falsehoods. He’s now unemployed.
My second example is the decision by Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling assault-style firearms entirely and cease gun sales to people under age 21. The decision by CEO Edward Stack came after the tragic shooting deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While many praised Stack’s call, multitudes of gun-rights advocates have assailed the company. Protests, lawsuits and fiery rhetoric on social media are ongoing.
Stack himself warned investors that the decision may cost some of their customers, but he is undeterred. “"As we looked at what happened down in Parkland, we were so disturbed and saddened, we felt we really needed to do something,” he said.
Closely linked is my third example: the student walkouts on March 14. Inspired by the outspoken survivors of Parkland, hundreds of thousands of young people across the U.S. held silent vigils and demanded action to reduce gun violence. Communities, businesses, even media outlets like Nickelodeon joined in to support the students.
For the record, I support these kids as well. Common-sense legislation won’t diminish the Second Amendment. Neither will it alone solve gun violence, but it’s an ingredient in the recipe to hinder it.
What I especially admire is the students’ courage; it seems they’ll need it. Take a cruise through online comments and social media, and you’ll discover many negative—and often vile—declarations against them. One school district in Texas threatened three-day suspensions even for students who had parental permission.
These are reminders that standing for truth, for principles and for positive action may be the right thing, but it’s rarely the easy thing. Enemies will abound. Sadly, in this highly connected world, a world desperately in need of dialogue, even the best communications can’t change that.
But let’s keep trying.