I had not planned to write anything concerning the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando. I didn’t think it was my place: I’m not gay, not Muslim, not Republican or Democrat, not a responsible weapons enthusiast or a gun-toting moron or even a gun owner, and I’m neither a right-wing nor left-wing extremist. I’m sort of what one could call vehemently moderate. But, in the couple of days now following the event, I’ve seen this troubling trend my nation seems to repeat after each of these horrible events.
Extreme Conservatives blame the perpetrator or the victims (depending on which group is hated more,) then raise paranoia about losing gun rights. Extreme Liberals blame guns then threaten stricter gun laws, after a token nod to the victims’ plight. Both extremes find ways to tie in terrorism even when terrorism isn’t involved. And, at some point, depending on the victim group, drum beating starts up the cry “this can never happen again!” until it happens, again and the cycle repeats.
It sickens me, and this morning I worked out why. It’s because we are “The Great American Melting Pot.” We are the bar that sets the standard for one nation out of many disparate parts. We are unity through diversity. E Pluribus Unum. But, we have some faults and fissures that are being exploited.
Picture a car’s windshield after a small rock hits it. Usually a small pit gets chipped out of the glass. It’s not usually a big deal if it gets repaired right away. Now, think of the U.S. as this windshield. Only, we aren’t fixing the problem. As time goes on, the chip expands into a star of cracks, and those cracks expand across the windshield; because, we let them. The windshield becomes irreversibly broken. Unlike a real windshield though, we can’t just replace the U.S. to fix the problem.
I don’t think that as a nation we are irreversibly damaged, yet. At the same time, this event shined a light on the U.S. and exposed many of our expanding cracks.
Every authority to as high as President Obama agrees this shooting was an act of terrorism. That makes the home nation, religion, sex, and personal beliefs of the perpetrator practically irrelevant. Terrorism isn’t about the perpetrator(s), it’s about the country in which the attack(s) takes place. It’s about dividing neighbors.
Terrorist attacks are calculated to make the highest impact with the least effort or to punish ideological threats, so the target for any attack is key. The targets have little or nothing to do with straights or LGBTs. They’re not about any religion. They have nothing to do with weapons control of any sort. They’re about making neighbors afraid of neighbors. They’re about making people afraid to live where they live. They’re about breaking the trust between a government and its people. They’re about fear. If there’s one thing I’ve seen increase from each of these cycles, it’s the level of fear.
Look at some targets: The World Trade Center (Monument to Western Capitalism), Pentagon (Head of U.S. Military), Charlie Hebdo (Fearless satirist), Pulse Nightclub (A neighborhood bar.) Targets representing freedom to earn, freedom to lead, freedom to dissent, freedom to gather with friends. The terrorists symbolically target freedoms. Then, we choose to limit or take away those freedoms. Terrorism makes us fear the results of living free.
This time, some of us are even helping the terrorists’ cause. One example is a so-called “Christian” pastor’s praise of the terrorist for targeting a gay nightclub and killing gays. Yes, that really happened. But, what would Jesus Christ say?
“Love your neighbor…”
~ Jesus Christ.
“But, gays aren’t our neighbors. Their lifestyle is abominable. That makes them enemies of Christianity.”
~ Pseudo-Christian Whack-Jobs
“Love your enemies…”
~ Jesus Christ.
Liberal groups have called for more gun-laws. Conservative groups have called for anti-Muslim or tighter immigration laws. Christian groups fall on both sides, and also cheer 50 fewer gay people in the world. The Terrorists sit back and watch the U.S. wrest itself from all it holds dear… and they laugh.
How can we not be disgusted by this? We need to unite, not divide. We must be what our Pledge of Allegiance suggests: Indivisible.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” ~ The Pledge of Allegiance as adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1942