As the shock of what happened last week in Orlando begins to subside, we are left with many serious questions about what happened, and what the future will hold for America.
Countless people have been impacted by this horrible tragedy, and in its wake, we are left wondering why there are those out there who continue to hold bigoted beliefs and perpetuate senseless and targeted violence towards the minorities they despise. Consider what has happened only in the lifetime of some of your grandparents – the kind of violence we saw in Orlando is sadly nothing new.
However, this big question remains: how do we react?
One thing that strikes me as I consider this horrible tragedy, and those in the past that mirror it, is that these acts always seem to be driven by some sort of belief system or faith. Many of the white southerners who were bombing black churches in the 1950s and 1960s were doing so in the name of Jesus.
Many of the terrorist groups who claim responsibility for attacks around the world do so in the name of Allah. The KKK, which is one of the biggest scars on America’s face of tolerance, was founded as a religiously affiliated organization – this list goes on.
How do these monsters rationalize their actions with scripture and messiahs and martyrs who preach peace, love, and harmony amongst the people of the world?
The truth is: they can’t.
If you’re a believer in any of the major faiths, violence, especially against innocent people who have done nothing to wrong you, is completely unacceptable. No God that I know would say these kind of actions are okay, and neither would the billions of peaceful committed religious people who are also appalled by the events in Orlando.
Instead, these select few so-called “believers” have hijacked what are age-old religions based on the principles of morality and distorted them in their own minds as justification for their violence. And now it is our job, as a united group of believers and non-believers alike, to stand up and tell them we will not be intimidated by their actions, we will not give in to their hatred, and we will not allow them to marginalize the beliefs of millions of people for their own disgusting acts.
If the tragedy in Orlando has taught us anything, it’s this: no matter how free a society, no matter how free a people, there will always be those that seek to divide us. And they try to divide us the only way they know how: through violence, fear, and intimidation.
Why do they use these tactics? Because the beliefs they have, the ideas they believe in, are so outside of the sphere of normalcy that utilizing terror is the only way they can get people to pay attention.
And that’s exactly what we should do – pay attention. But our attention shouldn’t be focused on the perpetrators or their hijacked bigoted belief systems – we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by glorifying their names and faces in the media. Instead, we should pay attention to what unites us, and what we can do to bring this world closer together.
In the case of Orlando, we can work together to support the LGBTQ community and make sure they know that we do not hold them to be anything but our equals. We are all citizens of this earth, and
together, we can force out this kind of hatred. But we must act now.
Whether you’re an LGBTQ activist and this attack represented a slaughtering of your brothers and sisters; whether you’re an American and 49 of your innocent countrymen were slain for no other reason but hate; whether you’re simply a member of the human race and 49 of your kin were murdered for being who they are – there is only one course of action going forward:
We stand together, united against hate, for the whole world to see.