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Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.


What Could Go Right? Breaking the gun violence cycle

Monkeypox is not the next Covid-19, wild mammals are bouncing back all over Europe, and more.

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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Breaking the gun violence cycle

Facing the news about the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and on the heels of the Laguna Woods and Buffalo shootings, is crushing, particularly so because this news has become so status quo in the United States. As The Progress Network (TPN) Member James Fallows wrote on Tuesday, we’re in a gun shootings cycle where the same features occur again and again and again and again. The rinse and repeat is exhausting. Over time, it drains our energy to respond, until one day we wake up to find that our belief that a response is even possible has been stolen in the night.

So before we can respond, first we must honor the emotional piece of this. The loss of young, innocent kids just hits differently—it’s incredibly damaging to our psyches, individually and collectively. Give yourself time to acknowledge this and to mourn, if you need. 

Here at TPN, we’re choosing to mourn alongside the words from one among us who has suffered the worst from gun violence, those of Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, was killed at the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“Days like today amplify an already heightened sense of lack of safety, hope, and love,” she wrote on Twitter yesterday. “The grief is overwhelming. Every feeling we are having is right and worthy. There is no judgment from me. This message is for the ones close to deciding there is no worthiness in the fight to stay.”

She added, “I want to encourage you to stay. Not because I can promise you better . . . but because not having you here would make it worse.”

Although the store has made some effort to curtail gun sales, the point remains.

Indeed, as this interesting meditation on crisis mindsets posits, “there is no such thing as being individually good or bad in a crisis. Humans either deal with crises in effective groups, or not at all.” It’s painfully obvious that we’re falling on the “not at all” side of things when it comes to the American gun violence crisis. Dealing with it requires a group. It requires us, as Márquez-Greene put it, to stay—and to stay with those with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye.

The most basic component of staying is simply giving our attention. As Márquez-Greene told NPR in 2020, “Some of these legislators out there, they’re banking on you to stop putting pressure on.” 

Don’t. Keep giving the gift of your attention, and all of your choices on how to respond will flow from there.

And what choices, you ask, do we have at our disposal? Last week we mentioned the reframing of guns as a public safety matter, so we can deal with firearm fatalities like motor vehicle fatalities, a nonpoliticized issue that we have successfully mitigated. The New York Times is recirculating their circa-2017 take on that, by Nicholas Kristof, with several practical suggestions on how to reduce firearm fatalities without falling into the trap of talking about “gun control,” which “scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales.” Yesterday Kristof came out with a new version that emphasizes upping the legal age for purchasing a gun.

We also found the thoughts of Isaac Saul, who runs the independent newsletter Tangle, helpful, especially because Saul himself is a gun hobbyist. (Scroll down to the “What should we do?” section.) He suggests a licensing and permit system á la—you guessed it—driving a car.

We’re making a little progress on a couple of suggestions from these lists, including developing smart guns and a bipartisan effort around revamped mental health legislation.

And Illinois just became the first Midwest state to pass a ban on ghost guns, which is a term for guns assembled at home from unserialized, and thus untraceable, gun parts bought online. Eleven other states and DC already have laws in place around ghost guns. 

One of TPN’s slogans is “progress is still possible.” Even in this tragic mess, we believe that. To stop believing is to give up.

Before we go

Is monkeypox the next Covid-19? Very likely not. For starters, it’s not as transmissible as Covid and doesn’t commonly kill people. Vox with the full explainer here.

Australians turned out to vote with climate change top of mind, leading to a parliamentary “supermajority” that is hungry for climate action. Australians have also voted in their most diverse parliament yet.

One thing we have been struck by since starting this newsletter is learning that when humans put energy into conservation efforts, they are astoundingly successful. Hannah Ritchie from Our World in Data has a great new roundup on Europe’s wild mammals, which are now flourishing after being driven to near-extinction. The Eurasian beaver, for instance, has seen a 14,000 percent population increase since 1960. The grey wolf? A “mere” 300 percent increase.

Our friends at the newsletter Today Do This have an array of suggestions for those looking to take action on anything from supporting Afghan women to protesting greenwashing. On the flip side of things, sometimes the best course of action is to take a break. Here are some good tips for taking one from the Internet.

And, we wish this response to the question of “how do we live alongside extremists?” from TPN Member Eboo Patel would go viral. 

Below in the links section, portable solar microgrids are helping save lives in Ukraine, Dads are getting longer parental leave in Morocco, and more.

The world has had a challenging two years, but what an improvement it is to now be on the right side of that line.

We have the first fully complete human genome. So what?

With genome sequencing becoming more accessible, more rare disease patients can get an accurate diagnosis of their conditions. | Read more 

Race in America, 2 Years After George Floyd | S2 Ep. 9

How do we grapple with the most challenging issues surrounding race, political division, equality, and more? Theodore R. Johnson, author, senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and retired commander in the US Navy, joins us to make a compelling case for a national solidarity necessary to mitigate racism and fulfill the American Promise. | Listen to the episode

I firmly believe the old maxim in public policy that you are hard on institutions and soft on people. If we are to have a democracy of 330 million people from different customs and cultures, different races and ethnicities, religions, languages, regions, et cetera, then we can’t look at half the country as being anti-American, undemocratic, unworthy of the experiment. We have to look at them as our partners in this thing, or else democracy doesn’t work at all, for any of us. And so I spend a lot of my time making the case to people that folks wouldn’t suspect someone like me would talk to. But I want to talk with the Right about racial inequality and structural racism. I want to talk to the Left about forbearance and incrementalism. Because I think this is the way societies work, that you have to find some kind of middle ground—principled middle ground, but some kind of middle ground—to move forward. And I think you do that by putting flesh and bone on ideas instead of just relying on frameworks and theories alone.

Listen to the full episode here. Read the full transcript here.

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The Certainty Trap | Tablet
The solution to our broken political conversation won’t be found in censoring “misinformation” but in recognizing the profound limits of our own beliefs.

Why we picked it: It encourages us to embrace openness, curiosity, uncertainty, and charitable interpretation as paths to—among other things—putting out the dumpster fires of our political and cultural discourse. —Brian Leli

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Respect to anyone who can find us a more moving grad speech about “having curly hair.” 😭👇

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Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.