Instead of a moment of silence, what if we had a moment where we all screamed at the top of our lungs, "Stop!" What if we realized that gun control does not have to be some panacea that eliminates all
killings in order for it to be one of several effective solutions? What if any sort of common sense gun legislation didn't have to presume to lead to innocent and responsible gun owners losing their rights to own a gun? Do we really want to transport our society back to the Wild West where so called "good people" can freely walk around carrying firearms as some suggest? One can only imagine what might transpire after someone cuts in line at the local supermarket or how a dispute over a restaurant bill might be resolved. Besides, how would we tell the good guys from the bad?
What if we stopped questioning the patriotism of those who believe it shouldn't be possible for someone to purchase an assault weapon; a weapon allegedly protected by the second amendment that was enacted at a time when such weapons didn't even exist? What if the right to "keep and bear arms," an amendment in and of itself to the constitution, was amended to become more restrictive. Is it not true that our constitution, which explicitly claims that all men are created equal, at one time allowed slavery? Women were not able to vote and the manufacturing or sale of alcohol was once deemed illegal. We as a country and a society have evolved over time and so have our laws.
What if we didn't demand quick and easy solutions. Why must we have glib sound bites intended to coalesce complex situations into simple answers? What if we didn't define strength as our ability to ridicule and demonize others. What if our solutions didn't involve building both physical and psychological barricades that separate us all as humans? What if we were more concerned about coming up with solutions than our need to be right? Why must our knee-jerk reaction be that an act of violence and hate must be categorized as a terrorist threat perpetrated by a select group of individuals?
What if this week's shooting in Orlando that killed 49 innocent lives was the result of an individual's fanatical religious belief gone awry? Do we then punish all individuals who share that faith simply because an individual had a distorted version of that religious belief? History has proven that approach to be not only illogical but extremely destructive. What if this is the result of an individual with a severe mental disorder that has gone unchecked. Is it then finally time for us as society to take mental illness as seriously as we do cancer, heart disease, and diabetes? And wouldn't it be both sad and ironic if we learnt that this horrific event was the result of an individual struggling with their own sexual identity. Someone who has lashed out at an unaccepting and homophobic society because they were not able to accept their own self-hatred and sexual turmoil? What then? Do we become a more accepting society and give all individuals the freedom to love whomever they want?
What if there is no simple answer? What if these factors and so many others are what has caused our society to allow such heinous acts to be perpetrated? I want to know why there are so many people who are filled with such visceral hate and anger, that differing sexual preferences, religious beliefs, or political persuasion could cause them to kill another human being? What if we knew the answer to that question, what would we do? I want to know how many more people must die for something to change? We are wasting so much precious time fighting for one side or the other and pointing fingers at the other guy that we are losing sight of the problems before us. I am both sad and angry at the event that took place this week. I am frustrated and not sure what I can do. This is not an American issue or a religious issue this is a human issue. When will we all step away from the reality TV shows that we are glued to and begin to act like the caring and loving society that our constitution and our individual religions claim we are?
What if we could put an end to these killings right now? What if we just decided to make it stop. What if we decided to donate blood or express our support for the LGBT community and those who lost their lives this week? What if we stopped tolerating hatred or became thoughtful of our own words? What if we gave our time and money to help others? What if we did something as simple as smile and say hello to a random person without knowing their political belief, sexual orientation, or religious background? What if we all just decided that today we would choose love over hate? I am not sure what would happen but these are all the questions to which I have no answers. I can only hope that as these hypotheticals swirl around my brain and drown out the blaring non-stop news coverage of this week's tragic events that I am not the only one out there that asking the question, what if?