This is going to be a bit of a different post than your usual regularly scheduled programming here on the blog. But then again, times are a little bit different than usual.
By now, you have most likely heard about the absolute tragedy that has befallen the lives of 49 innocent souls and one perpetrator of the crime at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida this past early Sunday morning. Any loss of life is terrible, but a number such as this is absolutely appalling, especially when it was comitted by one person with an assault rifle and a handgun. Ah, many of you are probably thinking to yourself, I see where he’s going to go with this. This is all a set-up to talk about the necessity of gun control. But just hold on a second.
Now yes, I am a liberal. And yes, you may even consider me a godless one, though I have not ever been a member of the school of Atheism. Though perhaps, considering i hew the closest to the Agnostic side of things, you might think I may as well play on the same baseball team. But semantics aside, I suppose by appearance I would fit just about every stereotype of a left-winger that’s out there. However, that is why appearances are often so deceiving.
For you see, we do have a problem in the United States. It’s just not exactly gun control.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the idea of owning a gun capable of firing at the kind of rate that these AR-15 style rifles like the one that the Pulse nightclub shooter along with many other mass shooters over the last several years have had is completely unnecessary. It is not a hunting gun. Its a destroying one. And yes, I don’t believe that civilian, ordinary citizens should be able to own rifles like these. However, these guns, and really any kind of guns are simply a tool created for the real problem that affects us as a society.
Ah, others of you are now thinking. So he’s going to talk about why we need to get tough on terrorism and especially Islamic terrorism. After all, the man responsible for the nightclub shooting was Muslim and pledged his allegiance to terrorist groups during the rampage. But again, hold on another minute.
Now once more, don’t get me wrong. Terrorism is a vile, despicable act committed by individuals who pervert the whole idea of humane behavior. Under the guise of some kind of “moral” code, these individuals and groups perpetrate acts of mass casualties on innocent people to prove some kind of sick point about whatever it is they believe in. But again, these people are a body exploiting the real problem of society.
So then you are talking about homophobia both external and perhaps internal too. After all, Pulse was a gay nightclub and the father of the shooter had initially mentioned that his son got angry seeing two men kissing a few months ago. And very recently, it has been suggested that the killer himself may have been gay and was fighting with himself over his true orientation. Yet once again, you are jumping to a conclusion a little too quickly.
For the last time, may I remind you to not get me wrong. Homophobia in this day and age is completely wrong, old and ridiculous. Since when do we get to decide whom two consenting adults should love and get married to if they should so choose to do so? It is already hard to find love out there to begin with. When you are able to find true love out there, you need to take it and hold onto it for as long as you can. If that means that true love comes in the form of someone who is the same sex as you or you feel you were born in the wrong sex, or even that you love both sexes equally, so be it. No one should take away your ability to love whom you love. But homophobia is simply a naked expression of, you guessed it.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
America’s birth was a messy one. We were born on the battlefields in which we had to wrestle with the question of whether we were Englishmen or what we would later call, Americans. Our colonist forefathers did not like the status quo and fought hard to change it. In the end, when we were able to take control of our own destiny, we set up the opportunity to persue the perfect society we had been clamoring for. And, well, we started to feel a little exceptional after awhile. Granted, in our preamble to the Constitution we wrote that we wanted to “form a more perfect Union,” which is a bit different from saying a perfect one but nevertheless as time went on, as time is wont to do, people started to think we had. Of course, that perfection looks a little bit different to different people so that slavery, denying both African-Americans and women the right to vote and placing Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II were all at one time believed to be pieces to a perfect society. However, as we would find solutions to work towards eliminate these and many other problems in thiught proccesses, most Americans thought that we had gotten it about right and had created perfection.
So then, as more time went on, that idea of American perfection started to take some hits. The Korean War ended up being basically a draw. Vietnam turned into more of a quagmire. Millions had to wait in long lines to get gasoline for their vehicles as supplies were purposely dwindled. American hostages in Iran were taken and forced to wait 444 days for their release. We were able to get a bit of our wind back with the 1st Gulf War. But then we got hit with a helicoptor of special forces being shot down in Somalia. Terrorism in Oklahoma City. Columbine. 9-11. An Iraq War that has turned out to be not quite so easy the second time around. Terrorism in Boston. A movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Sandy Hook. Now the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. The list of events both before and after these particular ones goes on and on. And while we may not have shown it or said it outwardly, I do believe that we all inwardly began to get more and more…well…
The perfect utopia many thought had been created here in America was seemingly becoming more illusionary. Suddenly guns started to become an attractive option so as to help protect ourselves against a world that began to increasingly look like it was falling apart. Terrorism and terrorists increasingly exploited the fear that they perceived and worked to stir it up further to keep us fearing. We turned against our neighbors and the people we met because they were different than us and we didn’t understand it. Is it any wonder that after World War II we saw the increased flight to the suburbs in order to be further and further away from what wasn’t liked and increasingly clustered in communities of like individuals that seemed so much more secure and more like the perfection we thought we had?
So what does this all mean in the end? The simple truth is that to help stop these tragic events that happen and combat the fear around us, we have to do its antithesis which is two-fold. Love….and learn. Now that doesn’t mean that you are going to turn around in the next minute and love something you have feared for the last 10, 20, 30, or whatever number of years just like that. But what you can do, and what we can all do is start learning about each other. You may never like something about one of your family members, friends, co-workers, or somebody just walking down the street. But if it is law-abiding, and not impinging on your right to do whatever law-abiding thing that you are doing or want to do, then we need to be able to learn to love our fellow men and women. One characteristic does not make the human being. We are a combination of our collected traits. Freedom has always been the idea to be able to be who you are without judgement.
We are not going to solve all our problems overnight. We are going to have to take hard looks within ourselves. And yes, we are all never going to agree on everything. And yeah, I may sound like a naive kid who thinks we are going to turn around and start loving each other and nothing bad will ever happen again. I’m wise enough to know that people are still going to do terrible things. But the fact that there would be so many of us who have just given up on the idea of human beings one day being more…well…humane should really give us pause as to whether we really are letting fear win. We can begin to make the less and less frequent. We have the ability to help start the process towards love and understanding. We should continue to work towards becoming a collected body striving a little more each and every day to work towards that more perfect union that we accept as part of the fabric of this country. For if there is just one thing that we can take pride in is that we have the ability to understand and find solution to our problems to help us in the pursuit towards happiness. At the end of the day, isn’t that really what we all want in the first place?