Fifty years ago today the world stopped as President Kennedy’s motorcade sped through the streets of Dallas in a futile effort to save his life. It is one of those moments that becomes seared into the minds of those who lived through it much like 9/11 will forever haunt my generation. It makes you look at the world a little differently when you see the pattern of tragedy and the regularity of its occurrence in our history.
Whether it is a single life lost or the lives of many, they are all equally tragic and the questions will still stumble from the tips of our tongues about what we could have done differently. There will always be people unwilling to accept the reality of tragedy and there will be ones who go too far in the emotional response to such heinous acts. However, one thing we should keep in mind as we attempt to cope and recover is that we can’t rely on others for answer.
As President Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
If you come to the same conclusion as others after searching yourself and finding what makes sense in your own mind that is one thing but simply accepting the suppositions of others without the effort of original thought is what President Kennedy warned us about. Simply going along with the crowd does not make us free, in fact it makes us unable to grow both as individuals and as a nation. Agreement isn’t enough without the ability to offer your own means of drawing that conclusion.
Such has been the case in recent years with the frequent calls for gun control, the same lobbying that occurred in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Why is it that in the past fifty years we have learned about every detail of one man’s life but we refuse to learn about society and the murderous motivations of people? Why are we so willing to glorify one man for his accomplishments but unwilling to condemn one coward for his actions? JFK didn’t make every Irish Catholic a Saint so why does a person who commits a murder with a firearm make every firearm owner a criminal?
I have read the articles leveraging this anniversary of mourning as a call to action for more gun control which is why I have made the statements above. But this is also a day of great contradiction which makes me wonder how well informed some of the antigun people are as today marks the birthday of Eugene Morrison Stoner who was born on this day in 1922 (we will celebrate his birthday tomorrow). For those of you who don’t know, Stoner was the genius behind the AR-15 platform which was designed just eight years before the world went silent.
So, on the same day that we mourn a great loss we also celebrate a tremendous innovation. Well, some of us mark the birthday of Stoner while other, those filled with hate, would rather eliminate this many from the history books. Kennedy and Stoner, one really has nothing to do with the other beyond a simple date… just like the actions of one deranged man has nothing to do with the rest of us.