Don’t divert from real conversation
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 exwife 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 all-too-frequent rate in the United States. 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, gender, lifestyle and, quite possibly as in this case, whether someone is a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender community. As is the case with nearly every mass shooting, those murdering others are also mentally unstable.
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 discussion, but the timeline for conversation 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 feed.
We are not taking enough time to address these issues — and this is a threat carrying far greater weight than who should or should not be able to use a public restroom.
Countless lives are being lost to hatred. Maybe we should work harder to address the roots of hatred than bicker over who is right about that day’s hot-button issue.