nra annual meeting exhibits

“You’re going to get out of life precisely what you put into it.”

I don’t know precisely when I first heard those words of wisdom, nor the context, but I’m relatively certain that they came from my father, who has gotten wiser as I’ve gotten older. What that phrase means is both simple, and profound. It’s about the “sweet spot” between perception and exertion. It’s about how a person looks at a given situation, and how they chose to respond.

I’ve always been a people-watcher, and since the wi-fi in the press room at the NRA Annual Meeting was spotty (at best), I did a lot of looking around.

Most of the journalists in the press room on Friday were either happy or non-committal, but one stood out starkly for her dour demeanor. She simply didn’t want to be there and it showed in every bit of her body language… and her scowl. I caught last name on her press credentials, and immediately recalled that I’d seen her angry, pursed lips before, back when she was actually recognized by (some) people in public.

It was obvious what she was going to write before she typed a single word, and she played true to form.

Others had the same take on the NRA Annual Meetings, because they went in with similar agendas.

There were a lot of people without such perverse biases, of course. They might have had some preconceptions, but their souls weren’t invested in having a bad time, or of making the attendees out to be monsters.

At least some of them found themselves converted (my bold):

John E., Ben K. & I have been at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis over the weekend, and I’ll try to distill the full 2.5 days into the post below. But before getting to the gun-related stuff proper, I’d say the best thing about the meeting was spending time with lots of people we’ve known on-line for ages but hadn’t met in person. The list of great folks we’ve met is staggeringly long and I won’t bore you with it, but for all the folks we’ve spent time with in the last couple of days, you were the highlight of the weekend.

And on that note, John and I were coming back to the convention hall this morning, and we were chatting with the shuttle driver from the hotel. She told us that her impression of the NRA had totally changed over the weekend. Last week, she had the view of the NRA and its members that the media promotes … bloodthirsty gun worshippers who cheer at school shootings or whatever. But after a few days of driving a bunch of happy people (her words) who are, as a rule, polite and just enjoying being in each other’s company, her perception changed.

Changing hearts and minds one at a time. This is how we win.

There are many people in this world who have a view provided to them of what the NRA is, and what gun owners are. Some walked through the doors of the Indiana Convention Center, with every intention of finding things to complain about. They looked for reasons to be upset, angry, alarmist, and shrill… and they found precisely what they set out to find.

Others went into the show wide-eyed and curious, wondering what interesting things we might see and what interesting people we might meet, and we had a marvelous if exhausting time. Others went in noncommittal, and may have come out the same way.

But I’m relatively sure that the shuttle bus driver encountered by John E. and Andy wasn’t the only person in Indianapolis who came out of the NRA Convention with a much more positive view of the organization based upon the context of their interactions with the people who attended.

Indianapolis Police—including the officer who went to the breakfast buffet in the press room  Sunday morning, quipping, “no cracks about cops and doughnuts” with a smile on his face—reported any problems with the 75,267 who attended.

Why would they?

You get out of life what you put into it.

Sometimes, when you’re lucky, exceptional people step into the void and can change your entire attitude.

There are a lot of such people in the NRA.