Thinking about what transpired in that crowded nightclub in Orlando is both heartbreaking and infuriating. Heartbreaking to imagine the sheer terror felt by the victims; infuriating because the carnage took place in my country, not some third world, war-torn nation thousands of miles away.
Many have pointed to the ISIS influence on the murderer as the motivation behind the slaughter. The ISIS influence certainly played a major role even if only as a convenient excuse for the gunman to wreak his havoc. The root cause, I believe, goes a lot deeper than ISIS.
Others have pointed to a hatred of the LGBT community as the primary motivation. Certainly another contributing factor, but, again, the root cause goes a lot deeper than that.
In line with the LGBT theory, it is also speculated that a key ingredient to his motivation could be a possible self-loathing by the gunman as a result of his questioning his own sexuality. However, self-loathing due to a confused sexual identity never seemed to result in carnage when the self-loather turned out to be one of our Congressman. Their reaction has always been to take stronger stands on family values – see Tom Foley or Dennis Hastert.
The sad reality of this situation is that what caused this American-born citizen to massacre these dozens upon dozens of innocent individuals goes a lot deeper than to simply write it off to ISIS influence or LGBT hatred. What happened in Orlando is no different than what happened in a Charleston church or a political rally in a Tucson shopping center or an Aurora movie theater or a Newtown elementary school or a university in Virginia or a mall in Columbia, Maryland or any other place across America.
Now I know what you must be thinking by now. I am going to put all of the blame for this horrific event on the ease of access of deadly firearms by these crazed individuals. Well, you would be wrong…well, not wrong, just not exactly right.
There is absolutely no excuse for this country to allow such easy access to firearms by individuals who intend to do the rest of us harm. We have so much concern about the so-called terrorist threat yet we continue to arm the very individuals who pose that threat to the rest of society. To think that we allowed this individual such easy access to a military assault rifle is inexcusable to say the least. Moreover, anyone who resists tighter scrutiny of those seeking to obtain lethal weapons bears some degree of responsibility for what happened not just in Orlando but all across America on a deadly basis.
So yes, there definitely needs to be established nationwide standards for ownership and use of firearms in this country. However, the root cause of what happened in Orlando and elsewhere goes even deeper than the debate over easy access to guns in this country.
The root cause of what happened in Orlando and Charleston and Tucson and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Aurora movie theater and San Bernardino and the Columbia Mall and countless other locations is something that has been evolving in this country, maybe since its birth, but, certainly taking on new growth and transparency over the last several years. The root cause of all of the hostility in this country which all too often becomes deadly is the growing sense among too many individuals that they have the right to impose his, her, or their beliefs and values on others.
Compound this with an ever-growing disregard for the sanctity of life and the result is what happened in Orlando and elsewhere on an all too often basis.
Yes, it is the lone gunman who is “directly” responsible, Senator McCain, for the mass murder in Orlando. However, it is every Pat Robertson or Donald Trump of the world who feeds the intolerance of many because of the life choices they make. It is the feeders of intolerance who make it seem acceptable to punish those who follow a different path in life.
It is the feeders of intolerance who make it seem acceptable to blow up abortion clinics and the doctors in them in the name of pro-life. Those Congressional leaders who fuel the hatred of doctors who perform legal abortions must take responsibility for “inspiring” terrorist acts against those doctors and their patients.
Those religious leaders who pointed to the Bible as a moral justification for the LGBT slaughter that occurred in Orlando have contributed greatly to the next mass slaughter.
It is our leaders who all too easily choose to engage in war before exhausting all other means that have contributed greatly, as well, to minimizing the value of life. In terms of the baseless Iraq war, specifically, it also contributed to the rise of ISIS (thanks Misters Bush and Cheney – now we have a real conflict on our hands of mammoth proportions).
It may be time for every member of our society to re-read our Declaration of Independence. The founding fathers were on to something when they stated quite emphatically that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
Wearing an American flag lapel pin does not make one a patriot. Standing up for all to live as they choose as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others is what makes one a true patriot by living by our founding principles.
Spreading this kind of patriotism and rejecting destructive and divisive rhetoric whether from political leaders, religious leaders or any other kind of leader is what this country needs more than anything else to stem the tide of mass murders and the total disregard for life.
As the great lyricist Oscar Hammerstein so eloquently put it in the musical South Pacific “You have to be taught” to hate. We need to begin emphasizing the need to teach tolerance. A good place to start may just be the upcoming presidential election, although I do have to partially agree with Trump on one issue. There is a use for waterboarding, but ONLY to force Trump to release his tax returns.