Just stop the ha­tred

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

The news a week ago was fraught with heart­break.

In the early morn­ing hours, a lone gun­man — whose mo­tives are still be­ing dis­cussed and de­bated — en­tered a night­club in Or­lando, Fla., and opened fire on pa­trons, leav­ing a death toll of 49 peo­ple and dozens of oth­ers in­jured. The gun­man was killed by po­lice of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to the in­ci­dent.

The club, Pulse, was known as a pop­u­lar hang­out for gay men and women. Re­ports have re­flected the gun­man may have been rad­i­cal­ized by in­ter­net pro­pa­ganda, while later re­ports sug­gested more per­sonal rea­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press re­port: “De­spite [his] pledge of sup­port to the Is­lamic State, other pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions emerged. His ex-wife said he suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness. His Afghan-im­mi­grant fa­ther sug­gested he may have acted out of anti-gay ha­tred, and said his son got an­gry re­cently about see­ing two men kiss. But ques­tions also emerged over whether [he] was con­flicted about his own sex­u­al­ity” amid re­ports the shooter had fre­quented the gay night­club and was on gay dat­ing apps.

Mass shoot­ings con­tinue to hap­pen at an all­too-fre­quent rate in the United States. Ac­cord­ing to the non­profit Gun Vi­o­lence Ar­chive, the Or­lando in­ci­dent was the 133rd mass shoot­ing in 2016 alone as de­fined by at least four peo­ple shot not in­clud­ing the shooter. By that def­i­ni­tion, there have been 76 days this year with mass shoot­ings in the United States — and 88 days with­out. A to­tal of 207 peo­ple have died in those in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing the known vic­tims of the Or­lando shoot­ing.

But also all too fre­quent is the rate of those of us who rush to judg­ment and opin­ion. One side of the ar­gu­ment says to throw more guns into the hands of cit­i­zens so they can bet­ter pro­tect them­selves from those who in­tend to do them harm. The other side says to keep guns away from as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. Then there are many in the mid­dle, look­ing at the is­sue from a va­ri­ety of view­points.

There is one thing we can all agree on. These mass shoot­ings, re­gard­less of con­tribut­ing mo­ti­va­tion, are mostly mo­ti­vated by one thing: ha­tred. Those who are spurned to take up weapons and ran­domly tar­get strangers are fu­eled by ha­tred of an­other’s skin color, re­li­gion, po­lit­i­cal views, life­style and, quite pos­si­bly as in this case, whether some­one is a mem­ber of the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der com­mu­nity.

No one has pre­sented a clear, ra­tio­nal an­swer as to why these in­ci­dents are seem­ingly oc­cur­ring with greater frequency than ever be­fore. Also, no one can pre­sent a ra­tio­nal op­tion for how to pre­vent them.

What we can and need to do is stop with the horde men­tal­ity of “us against them” when vi­o­lence oc­curs. It is so typ­i­cal in the mod­ern era to quickly shout our opin­ion or push an agenda, what­ever it may be, that we of­ten lose sight of what brought us to the con­ver­sa­tion in the first place — that in­no­cent lives were sense­lessly lost. We in­deed need to have a di­a­logue, but the time­line for those con­ver­sa­tions is all too brief. It starts with ini­tial out­rage with solutions bandied about and calls for change but, days or even weeks later, every­one goes back to ig­nor­ing the is­sues. The next po­lar­iz­ing story of the day has popped up in our news feeds.

Our lead­ers need to do a bet­ter job of be­ing the ex­am­ple for us all and fos­ter­ing pos­i­tive dis­course rather than di­vi­sive rhetoric. Frankly, a com­pro­mise on every­one’s po­si­tions is likely go­ing to be the an­swer that pro­tects more of us into the fu­ture.

In the mean­time, count­less lives are be­ing lost those who lose them­selves to ha­tred. We can work harder to ad­dress the roots of ha­tred — a bet­ter ex­er­cise than bick­er­ing over who is right about that day’s hot-but­ton is­sue.

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