The tragedy that occurred on June 12, 2016 - the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, happened less than a week after the 2016 Global Peace Index ranked the United States 103rd out of 163 countries in order of most peacefulness.
The United States falls in the bottom 37th percentile of peacefulness. That is a sobering and terrifying fact.
There have been a lot of reactions to the attack against Pulse, an Orlando gay club hosting a Latin night that featured trans black people on the advertisements. Many call for stricter gun control, others the right to defend themselves from unpredictable mad men. There is pleading for both stronger security against Islamic extremists and a uniting of LGBT and Muslim leaders. Some call for an end to identity politics, noting this as an attack on all Americans, while others ask that heterosexual cisgendered white people (such as myself) stop co-opting the narrative we already dominate, and allow the affected minority communities to speak out instead.
There are a lot of forces at play, and these are all reasonable reactions to this tragedy. However the repercussions of this devastating attack will ripple out far beyond even the dynamic and diverse confines of these conversations. How this impacts the upcoming election, gun control legislation, market forces, and foreign policy, will impact the rest of the world. Whether or not the United States has earned its influence or not, it is indisputable that all of these factors impact the international community at large, disproportionately so our world's most vulnerable populations.
So how did we get here, and where can we go? There are countless forces at play that we have allowed to fester and grow that ultimately lead to the mass murder in Orlando.
The one thing that all of the reactions to the Orlando attacks have in common, is fear.
This fear is not the natural response to environmental stimuli that activates our fight or flight response. This fear is manufactured. This fear is designed to pit us against one another, to obscure those profiting off of insecurity and destruction from the power of the people.
We were not born with vitriol in our hearts to those who are unlike us, who hold different beliefs and persuasions from us. However we have given in to these hateful desires, and allowed others to profit off of our shared human precarity, our vulnerable bodies, our communal dependencies.
If you want to know who is benefiting from this tragedy, follow the money, find the power.
Corruption is apolitical. Conservative politicians use fear to convince us we need guns to protect ourselves, while liberal politicians use fear to convince us we need gun control to protect us from others. These are not mutually exclusive desires, and they both avoid the real solution - fostering a just and peaceful society, healing long infected wounds. The problem doesn't stem from the common scapegoats; poor black communities, illegal immigrants, religious extremists, powerful white men. The problem stems from ourselves, from allowing ourselves to be bought and paid for, for supporting those in power that have created an unjust, unfair, and divided society.
In the wake of this horrible tragedy, we must link arms, and call for peace. We must work towards a just society. A society where there is no desire to take up arms, because there is no fear of the ambiguous other. A society where straight white men can't co-opt the conversation, because everyone, of all religious and cultural backgrounds, skin colors, genders, and orientations has a voice. A society that's markets do not profit off of violence, but off of equality and progress.
We must not let ourselves be manipulated once again - we have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other, and to the world. We must stand against those that would divide us, and create a society of justpeace.