Don’t di­vert from real con­ver­sa­tion

Record Observer - - Opinion -

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.

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