In gun control debate, sacred human values often forgotten

s we begin 2014, we still haven’t engaged in a conversation about gun control that brings both sides together.

Polls indicate a country more or less divided over how to prevent another school shooting. And while legislation has been proposed to reign in the gun lobby, sales of guns have soared.

Global Post: This debate is not a new one in theUnited States, and while it intensifies with each tragic mass shooting, the conversation rarely advances. Frustration sets in as each new action causes the other side to dig in their heels even further.

We wonder: Is there another way to frame this issue?

For the last 20 years I have led an international organization that works in war torn countries to negotiate an end to conflict. In places like Northern Ireland, El Salvador, South Africa and the Balkans, groups once driven to violence to defend their beliefs have put down their weapons, sat down at a table, overcome their differences and negotiated. Moving beyond conflict is, indeed, possible.

One dynamic I have observed present in all successful negotiations — which is missing from our current debate over gun control — is a recognition of the role of sacred values.

Social scientists define sacred values as a set of values or principles that individuals and communities hold dear to their idea of right and wrong, that define who they are and help guide their daily lives. We first came to see the critical role played by sacred values in the 1990s in dealing with the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland in which thousands of people were killed.

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Categories: Americas

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