Ignoring facts leads to skewed perspective on big problems

By Michael Adkins

Here is an interesting fact: D-Day, the largest invasion force in the history of the world, produced fewer American casualties in its first 24 hours than in five hours at the lesser known Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

Knowing such a fact gives us a far clearer perspective on the vast horrors of our greatest domestic conflict. It would be useful if America put its current issues into such a clear and proper perspective.

But the modern world is so complex that we tend to simplify our thought process by accepting conveniently narrow-labeled perceptions rather than taking time and energy to put them into a broader rational perspective based on facts.

Evangelicals supporting Alabama’s Roy Moore, in spite of the number of claims against him, do so merely because he is labeled a God-loving conservative.

To a greater or lesser extent, we are all guilty of such intellectual laziness. That collective lethargy draws us further into the damaging division of the U.S.

If we all took the time to place issues into proper perspective, we would find common ground for resolutions and more civil discourse.

It becomes difficult to accept the argument that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ineffective when air and water quality is demonstrably improved since the agency’s inception.

It is problematic to argue the EPA costs jobs and harms the economy when more jobs have been lost to technology than any other cause, when alternative energy jobs are growing at such a rapid rate and when corporate America is thriving at record levels.

In attempting to balance our individual freedoms with the defense against foreign terrorism, it is useful to realize that since 9/11, more Americans have died at the hands of domestic hate-groups than from jihadists.

The correct statement is at the hands of right-wing hate groups, but too many people automatically hear that term and dismiss the fact outright because it simply doesn’t fit with their preconceptions.

If we accept proven facts, we can set a more effective national agenda. Foreign terrorists are a serious problem, but they are one that has taken valuable resources away from a larger problem.

Perhaps on no single issue would Americans be better served letting facts guide our debates into a proper perspective than that of gun violence. To state that America, far and away, suffers from more gun violence than any other nation is proven fact.

To argue that gun-control laws are ineffective denies the fact that gun violence has been on a steady decline since they were passed.

To argue, as the NRA does, that this decline is because there are more guns in America than ever before ignores the fact that there are actually fewer American homes with guns. Yes, there are more guns sold than ever but they are going into fewer hands.

Another important fact that helps put the debate into perspective is while gun violence is on the decline, mass shootings have vastly increased since Congress lifted the restrictions on assault-style weapons.

Accepting these facts, rather than dismissing what we don’t want to believe would better enable the U.S. to resolve the gun violence problem and still maintain the right to bear arms.

Facts are not fake news, and they are invaluable when placing divisive issues into proper perspective, but to do so means we must expend the energy to study those facts.

Michael Adkins is the former chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.