June 16, 2016.
Calling the murderous actions of a lone gunman in Orlando a tragedy doesn’t say nearly enough. The politicization of the murders began within minutes of Sunday’s breaking news. Blame was being hurled from all quarters as a reaction to the horror and sadness of this loss of American lives, but it’s not a salve.
The murders at the Pulse club are not a reason to attack President Obama, the NRA, or gun laws. This is not about Republicans, Democrats, gays, or terrorism per se. Once again, this appears to be about the actions of a sociopathic, dangerous individual with a twisted view of the world, access to weapons, and an utter disregard for human life.
The history of humanity is rife with stories of brutality against individuals, groups, and the masses. ISIS is the latest and won’t be the last to conduct itself in selfish and murderous ways, and to inspire men like Omar Mateen to do likewise.
History is also filled with stories of good men and women rising above the fray. Witness the healing tones of (most) speakers at the funeral service for Muhammed Ali in Louisville. Arguably the world’s most well-known Muslim, Ali’s greatest legacy may be his spirited, principled, and non-violent pursuit of human connectedness – regardless of race or religious belief.
It’s right to express our collective grief and punish those who inspire murder and celebrate it, but it’s also right to further examine the human condition and what we’re doing about it. As a nation, we don’t do enough to mitigate the risk of another Orlando, Virginia Tech, or Columbine. We don’t pay enough attention to why these perversions of our Western civilization occur. Without sustained, thoughtfully directed policy, the demand for a better mental health system is just rhetoric. Without more innovative screening tools that respect law-abiding, responsible gun owners — and red flag those who may be acquiring guns as weapons of aggression — we’re reduced to arguing the meaning of the Second Amendment. And without aspiring to the highest moral standards for ourselves, our communities and our nation, we can’t be the most inspirational nation in the world. The Greatest would likely agree.