As we look into the life and history of the shooter, the picture that is coming together is of a person who had a history of violence dating back to elementary school. He had a history of domestic violence, he made threats to coworkers, and seemed to be struggling with his sexual orientation. It has been reported that the FBI has asked the fiancé of the shooter not to tell the American media that she believed he was gay and had heard his father call him gay several times. The media will continue to stick to a narrative of "extreme Islamic terrorist" and ignore all of the other factors that led to this massacre. The more we continue to hate, the easier it is for them to convince us of the next war.
The reason Trump and the right wing's rhetoric is so dangerous is because it attempts to spread hatred to our fellow brothers and sisters. When we talk about and treat people who are different from us as the "other," we disconnect from their humanness. When we disconnect from their humanness, it makes it more difficult to feel compassion. When we treat any group of people like second class citizens, take their rights away, approve bills making it legal for businesses to discriminate against them, argue about which bathroom a person can use, we perpetuate an agenda of intolerance and violence. This shooter was a product of this country, just like most of the other mass shooters. He was born and raised in the United States of America. This country, his religion, his family's ideologies coupled with an already unstable, troubled individual created a ticking time bomb.
Texas Lieutenant Governor tweeted after the tragedy, "God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." This is a man in the second highest position in our nation's second largest state. Any ideology that teaches a person deserves to be murdered for loving another person of the same sex is what is most dangerous to our country's future. Whether it's Christianity or Islam, each person gets to decide how extreme they will believe. You can take the teachings from the bible or Quran literally or use parts of them to guide you on your own path but that doesn't mean you get to tell the rest of us that we are wrong for living our lives the way we want. It doesn't mean you get to force your beliefs on the rest of us. If you are an elected official, you must govern and serve all citizens, not just the ones who believe like you do. We all deserve to have equal rights, to feel safe & protected, to be free from others telling us what we can or can't do with our love or our bodies.
You see, when one feels it is impossible to live the truth of who they are, deep in their souls, they begin to despise themselves, which in turn makes them hate those parts in others who are able to fully express themselves in the absence of shame.
When we don't have the permission to fully express ourselves in fear of being mocked, excommunicated, or disowned we begin to feel expendable and that place is a dangerous place to be.
The only way to make positive change is through action, not silence. Let's take every opportunity to practice kindness and generosity, and when we meet people who are different from us, let's engage curiously to learn more. When we see two people kissing, let's rejoice in their love. Let us not extinguish other people's joy just because it looks unlike ours. We have our work cut out for us in this country but I believe it can be done. If we continue to lead with Love for all humans, we will win because Love always wins.