All of our hearts go out to the victims of the recent shooting and their friends and families in Parkland, Florida.

So here we have it, another school shooting and another regrouping of people into their respective corners ready to come out swinging about whom to blame.

It seems that we have lost, as a culture, the ability to have a conversation. We demonize anyone who doesn’t agree with us and demand that people step in line with our thinking or brand them traitors to the cause.

I believe that we are much less polarized on issues than we’re told that we are, but we live in a debate culture that demands that we take a position—usually the one given to us by people we don’t even know—and defend it with righteous indignation.

How can we take back our own thoughts? Is it possible that we might be able to build a culture that can have a dialog? Can we learn to simply listen without preparing our argument?

Ending the continual series of school slaughter seems like a topic that should bring us together. I’m guessing that if we picked a random group of 100 people off the street in any town or city and asked for a show of hands of who is against school shootings that everyone would raise their hands. We can all agree on that, right? And I’m guessing that if we asked the same 100 people if we as a community, state, nation should do something about it that we’d get close to everyone agreeing that we should.

What if we then asked the group, what should we do about it? Is it possible that we could have a discussion, maybe a brainstorming session, without it devolving into a shouting, finger-pointing match that then does nothing to help anyone? I have to believe we could. I just have to.

Maybe it starts small at dinner tables and with friends. Maybe we can listen to other people and not dismiss their ideas simply because they’re not our ideas. If we can keep in mind that we all want the same thing: to protect children, teachers and staff from being murdered at school, then we’re off to a good start.

It’s not as simple as outlawing this gun or that bump stock or having a better system to track threats or having cops in every school. It likely includes some version of these but is certainly not limited to them.

We have a collective responsibility to learn from each other, to not dismiss people who do not share our ideas as heartless thugs or naïve dreamers, to take off our gloves and leave our corner of the ring.

Our kids lives could very well depend on our ability to talk to each other.

Please read Kim Sharpe’s story on page 20 about school shootings to learn what our local districts are doing and what support systems are in place in northern Colorado.

Here we go,