How do we fix a system that was never broken to begin with? Most may disagree with this statement but what is sad is that some feel like the system is doing everything it was designed to do, and in a way that is true. The other night Orlando’s premier gay night club, Pulse, was tragically shot up and hundreds of casualties came out of it, 50 being pronounced dead. After word of this event traveled around the social sphere, it felt like a shift in the paradigm, this being the worst mass shooting America has ever witnessed.
When I first heard of the news I truly could not believe it. It was surreal. How does one person manage to kill this many people by himself? And to imagine what must be going through the mind of a person who is willing to commit such a horrific act. It is almost as time stood still for an entire day.
One thing that I always consider when events like these occur, is how the families of the victims must feel and how they are dealing. The mental trauma that comes with this news must be horrifying and in most cases permanent. These people lost children, friends, husbands, and in certain cases, parents. We can watch news coverage of these events and feel empathetic for the people who lost their loved ones, but we could never truly experience the nightmare that they are currently going through.
Although this happened within the LGBT community, it is uncertain what the killer’s motives were. It is easy to assume that he was homophobic and maybe he was, but it goes much deeper than that. This man killed 50 people, regardless of how these people identified themselves. America never condones this type of behavior within this context, though when it comes to our military forces killing people in another country, it is praised and accepted. Though I believe the system is not broken, there indeed is something terribly wrong with it.
Guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Guns cannot invent themselves, and they don’t pull their own triggers. Guns would not exist without us, but now, because of guns, our existence is becoming numbered. America especially has this problem, having 88 guns per 100 people in the country and reporting more deaths by guns than any other developing country. I can’t seem to figure out why we need so many guns, and why we feel like we need to take people’s lives . It is truly something I can never wrap my head around. While guns are a huge problem in America, none of these things are able to happen without human intent.
The LGBT community is suffering especially after this and rightfully so. After all of the advances they have made, having same sex marriage legalized across the country, they still face extreme difficulties of simply existing here without fearing for their well-being. Minorities all have obstacles to overcome here in America, blacks, latinos, homosexuals, transgenders, and basically anyone who is perceived as different than people within the status quo (white America).
A conversation with one of my Spanish co-workers really put it into perspective for me when he told me about how he got into the country. He basically had to cross the border and find a place to settle without being caught by patrol officers. He then faced the difficulties of having a language barrier with his peers in school and just about everywhere else, but other than that had a pretty typical Americanized childhood, except for one major detail. After graduating from high school with a stellar GPA, he was accepted on scholarship to Johnson & Wales University, but was unable to go because of his lack of citizenship. This showed me while it is true we all face limitations to certain opportunities, the ceiling is higher or lower for several different kinds of people.
Not trying to take the attention off of the demographic at hand, the LGBT community, but after this tragedy and the focus of the #blacklivesmatter movement, we need to realize that there is one thing in particular that we all have in common despite our privileges and advantages: humanity. Killing unarmed black children is inhumane. Shooting several people at a gay club is inhumane. We tend to focus on the identities of the victims at hand and only consider that, but the truth is all humans are the problem, but we’re also the solution.
While I think it is important to point out the demographics of the oppressed, it is just as important to put ourselves in the shoes of people who are different than us. When you really think about it, we’re not all so different after all. The victims of the Orlando shooting all had families and loved ones, as did the shooter. Forget about the ism’s for a moment, the racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamaphobia, ageism, and think about your family, the people you truly care about to the core. How would you feel if you lost a loved one in a tragedy such as this? Nothing else would really matter at that moment.
Hate is an illness that America has been afflicted with for several hundred years. How do we overcome this? Love. Love yourself. Love one another. Despite who or what they may be, because reality is that is you too. This article is not me trying to prove a point but rather a piece trying to make personal sense of this horrific event, and even after writing this I still can’t. Peace to all those affected in Orlando and around the world. Violence is never the answer.