Deflection is not a virtue, it is cowardice.
This is my third year living outside of the United States. Unfortunately, it is not my third time waking up to a tragedy on my native soil.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, yet another religious homophobic fanatic, who had access to an assault rifle, went into the Pulse nightclub and shot over 100 people; 50 were murdered, another 53 were critically, or mortally injured.
This tragedy is heartbreaking, and my thoughts, energies and compassion are with the victims, and their family.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that this event is only a side effect of the greater tragedy that is occurring in the United States.
I spent the greater part of that Sunday and the following Monday reading through posts, articles and commentary regarding this incident. What I saw was just as, if not more, disturbing than the actual incident.
I saw deflection, blame, name – calling, and a large amount of “I told you so”.
Humans are so preoccupied with our desire to be viewed as “good” that we will find any reason at all to not be held responsible for tragedies such as this. We are so afraid of accepting responsibility and be associated with “evil” that we are willing to push yet another shooting onto another group.
A Religious Homophobic Fanatic, who had access to an assault rifle shot over 100 people.
In that simple understatement of a tragedy, there are easily three root problems/causes that are identified.
The first issue we have is Religion. Islam, Judaism, Christianity are all branches from the same monotheistic tree. I, personally, do not care what religion this person killed “in the name of”. If you are a member of an organized religion, he belongs to you, he is a creation of yours.
However, instead of admitting that, I see nothing but Christians saying “well, he was Islamic, so we are still good.”
No. that is not the case. If you are part of an organized religion that has killed in the name of your god, you are part of the problem. (Note: I am not commenting on believing in God. I am commenting on the forced book teachings that come from organized religion).
Yes, Islam is currently more vocal, and has taken more action in modern society, however, Islam is a branch from the same tree as Christianity, and both are religions with violent pasts, (just because yours might have a lower body count, does NOT make it less violent.)
I see Islamists saying, “Well, we are not all like that.”
Great. I am happy for you. He comes from your religious affiliation. He follows the same book that you do. He is just as much a creation of yours as he is a creation of religion in general.
If you are part of a violent, organized religion, that reaches out to dictate how people should live their lives, and raises children to have these same beliefs (without the freedom to decide for themselves) you are part of the problem.
The second issue is homophobia.
To address this, I am going to quote one of my favorite posts from yesterday’s following:
“**Those of you who are #PrayingForOrlando but also think LGBTQ people should keep their “lifestyle” to themselves.
**Those of you who condemn this attack but go to church every Sunday and listen to the preacher talk about how the gays are going to hell.
**Those of you who are upset about this attack, but support the discriminatory bathroom laws.
**Those of you who are mourning but also thought the country was going to hell after same sex marriage was legalized last summer.
**Those of you who would beat your son if he decided to put on a dress and heels one day.
You are part of the problem. You pulled the trigger. And I don’t want to hear about your thoughts and prayers when YOU’RE the ones making it possible for these hate crimes to happen.”
I agree entirely with this quote, but I am also going to add something.
If you are capable of looking at ANY human being and think yourself better or higher than them, you are part of the problem.
If you are a “supporter of LGBTQ rights”, but do NOTHING against this discrimination, you are also part of the problem.
The final problem in the statement I made earlier, “he had access to an assault rifle”.
Yes. I’m going to go into gun regulation here. I am pro-gun. I was raised with guns; I have a long history with them. I use guns for hunting, sport, and the comical belief that they might help me in self-defense. I own several. I believe in the right to bear arms.
All that said, if you can look at this tragedy (and the ridiculous number before it) and say that we should change nothing about our current regulations, then you are absolutely deflecting responsibility and you are part of the problem.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Guess what? The gun helps. If he did not have access to an ASSAULT RIFLE, not a handgun, not a deer rifle, but a military-qualified, high capacity assault rifle, he would not have had the same capacity to kill/injure over 100 people. This tragedy may have still occurred, because regulations do not change intention, but they certainly don’t make it as easy.
Americans are so afraid to admit responsibility that we will not admit that the tool we use is not a factor (guns are not responsible, for they are inanimate objects) but they are a factor in the amount of people that were killed. He was an American. He had the right to own a gun. There is no need for this type of gun to be available to civilians.
Regulations and Bans are not the same thing. It is not unreasonable to ask gun-owning Americans to prove that they are capable of owning an item that is designed to end life. What this “proof” consists of, is a topic for another day.
If you are an American who looks at these tragedies: a room full of dead children (as seen in the Sandy Hook shooting) , a regional center filled with dead civilians (as seen in the San Bernadino shooting) a club full of dead Americans (as seen in this recent Pulse tragedy), and you are capable of completely dismissing guns as a factor (not the cause but a factor) then you are part of the problem.
We can not, as a society look as the way our society is run and refuse to take responsibility. We can not raise our children to have deep bigoted ideals, incredible fears and frustrations, ignore mental illness and then, when these people grow up and become enraged to such a level that they are willing to take lives, give them access to weapons to do so, and then pretend that we are surprised.
We cannot be part of a problem, and pass blame. We cannot be part of the problem and do nothing.
We have to take responsibility. We have to take action. We have to change.
In the words of Kezi E. Lewis:
“This was a homegrown, ‘Merican terrorist killing in the name of homophobic ‘Merican values. One of us.”
And a final quote, which I believe sums up this statement well.
“If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes, to which their first education disposed them; what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.“
~ Sir Thomas More