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Caseythoughts I consider myself a pretty steady character, not prone (most of the time) to being 'shook up', frazzled or just plain dumbstruck. But I am still pondering an experience of two days ago that begs for deep questioning, and left me almost speechless.

I was doing my daily news search on, which I consider to be reliable, as most of the stories of the day have a couple of reliable national sources which I can choose from. I don't remember why I clicked on this particular story, because the headline seemed innocuous (and not click-bait). It referenced a public service announcement (PSA for short) that had just aired on the Today show and was causing controversy. You may have seen it by the time you read this, but there is no doubt that millions more will be viewing it online and on national television in the next few days, as AMC (a national movie theater chain), Conde Nast (an international publisher of magazines such as The New Yorker, among others) and CNN have donated a total of two million dollars to air this video PSA nationally. I'm going to give you the information to search for it on the web (pretty straightforward and easily 'find-able'), with this warning: I was in tears when this 60 second clip ended, apparently joined by the untold tens of thousands who saw it the other day, and I can still barely speak of it to anyone without a chill running up (down?) my spine.

If you Google either Sandy Hook Promise, or perhaps Back To School Essentials, looking for a video/PSA (Editor's note: the video is embedded below), I'm sure you'll find it. There were more than a million 'hits' on it the morning I viewed it for the first time, and though it is bound to show up on network television thanks to the previously mentioned donated funding (including football games, etc.) you might want to view this with someone you trust, and be prepared. If you don't cry, you've probably been the victim of tear duct removal (not to mention heart and soul surgically removed). But, the emotional content brings the controversy about guns into an entirely new perspectives other than the same old unsolvable cliches which divide us.

This is not your typical tear-jerker stuff; it will give you a gut punch about one of the most pressing and raw emotional and seemingly insoluble problems of modern America. It has been produced by a parent of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook elementary. I'm not going to describe the one minute PSA, but it is definitely not what you may be expecting, and certainly takes the level of argument into a new realm, previously unexplored in the constant vehement arguments about guns.

And that is the point to be made. As a radio host for almost twenty years, and a producer of radio content, I have a sense for 'what works' and though radio is a different medium than television ('theater of the mind', as we used to call it) the idea behind a public service announcement is the same for both audio and video content. It has a theme other than 'buy me', and it has the goal of espousing one idea, one social goal, one agency, one event, etc. And it is most effective when it makes you 'stop, look and/or listen' for the short period of time it gets to grab your attention. There have been a lot of great PSA campaigns on radio and television over the years (Stan Freeburg and Dick Orkin's Radio Ranch were geniuses in this area) and the most critical manner of getting the message to take hold in your brain (or mind, as I will differentiate in a moment) was to, literally, 'make you think' in a different way. Maybe say "Hmmm." afterwards, and the point was to get you to change your perspective, or mental parallax. Efficacy in this mode was frequently tried in matters of race relations, spirituality, diversity, etc: issues which saw and spoke to a 'divide' in thinking which needed to be addressed by church groups ( National Council of Churches), non-profits (Red Cross), etc. The PSA would come at you at an unusual angle to get your attention, instead of bludgeoning you like its ugly twin sister, the paid commercial, or 'spot'.

The reason I am so struck by this spot named "Back to School Essentials" produced by Sandy Hook Promise is that it is not a typical 'anti-gun' or 'pro-gun' spot. It comes at you from the classic PSA 101 angle: it's not about the NRA, or against, which is the dividing line in America. It's not about Wayne LaPierre , or Ollie North, or 'the other side'. It comes at you from the point of view of a nine or ten year old, and for the first ten seconds you think you're watching a WalMart commercial. It shocks you, and confuses your senses. Ostensibly, the shock and confusion is due to the point of view, from a ten year old's eyes. It's not about guns, it's about kids. And this PSA points out, forcefully, that over a quarter million American kids have experienced a school shooting first hand since 1999, the Columbine shooting. That number, in my pessimistic thinking, almost seems low. But it's not about politics, stalemate, standoffs, Congress, the President, or all of the people who 'take a stand' on another issue which seems to divide the dinner table and homes. It's simply (and forcefully) from a point of view that seems to get lost: the trauma of a quarter million kids, and the millions more who know that their school may no longer be the bastion of safety. The way churches and synagogues and mosques used to be, too. The politics and 'winner'-less arguments are shunted aside to embrace and confront the simple, and cryingly complex, humanity of the issue.

Don't get me wrong. I am a firm and staunch advocate of the 2nd Amendment as it was written and intended. It was put into the Constitution for a reason and there's no practical way this country will ever agree to rescind or 'amend' it without a potential rending of civil American society (as if we weren't already on the verge of a civil war as it is, with or without 300 million weapons). But I really want you to see and experience the emotional content of this sixty second video on the web. Hopefully, you'll find it, and not condemn me for pushing it on you, allowing the tears to come, maybe yelling at the TV or monitor screen, and begin a conversation, when you recover, with someone you love about what you've just seen, absorbed, and allowed to linger in your heart for a long, long time. It's an emotional experience, to be sure, but a rational discussion can slowly be experienced, too, with this new angle and perspective, as a public service announcement, in its best form, was meant to convey.

Albert Einstein was attributed with the quote: "You can't solve a problem with the same brain that created it." The current 'mindset' of confrontational politics and a simplistic reading of the violence we are confronted with in America, a simplistic rendering of the argument as pro-gun or anti-gun, or as a Second Amendment argument, is what is keeping us in a quandary, and moribund in 'old thinking'. We need to see this with a 'new mind' to find a 'new solution, and this requires many a moment of reflection. This video minute offers that reflection, I would hope, with its gut punch of reality.

Next week: What I think may be a new way of thinking about gun violence and the terror of churches, schools, synagogues and mosques: and it doesn't involve the 2nd Amendment. Hint: The 1st Amendment may give us a path to solution, or at least a step on a journey of a thousand 'steps'. Thanks for listening.
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