I woke up early Sunday morning the horrible news and was forced by both conscience and curiosity to turn to it on and off all day. A madman, entered a night club in Orlando, Florida and engaged in the massacre of at least 49 people, wounding 53 with the shooter, himself being killed by police at the scene.
It was a horrendous scene, even from 1200-1300 miles away. A gay nightclub. People minding their own business. Having a good time. Visited upon by an unspeakable act of violence designed to traumatize them and terrify our nation.
The textbook definition of terrorism.
Four days have passed and we know more about the gunman. We know the weapons he used – at least one of which was an AR-15, the dreaded killing machine of choice, the design of which serves no other purpose but to take human life. We know that although he was of Afghan descent, he was an American, born in Queens, New York. We know he was a terribly disturbed young man who’s actions took many lives and ruined many others.
Politically, I think we all know – at least the most rational thinking of us – that this will keep happening, as long we have no meaningful gun control laws to stem the tide of such carnage. I agree with Hillary Clinton, no gun control law is going to stop all gun violence, but it will save some lives. What type of death toll is acceptable? Far, far fewer than we saw Sunday morning.
But such an action lies with the legislators we elect, which to some degree, puts it out of our hands, at least until election time. What we need is to feel as if we are doing something. I heard one suggestion that gets to the heart of it. We need a day of National Mourning. A chance to grieve what we have lost, indeed what we are losing as a country. In our congregations, of whatever faith, in public gatherings of a peaceful nature, we need express our frustrations and fears regarding this tragic incident and this tragic time. We need to be heard.
But we also need to hear from mature people of courage in those congregations and secular gatherings. People who have, themselves, born heavy burdens, and who can remind us that it will be alright and remind us of the foundations of our spiritual and, even our democratic faith.
We need to feel some connection with those who are suffering. Perhaps we need to write letters to the survivors and let them know we thank God for their lives. Write letters to the families of those who did not survive and let them know that we thank God for the lives of their loved ones.
Most importantly, we need to avoid knee jerk, easy answers that make us feel better, or superior to those still searching for answers. I had to take the time to We don’t need to be rushed to conclusions that this was an attack by a terrorist (It’s looking more and more like its not); or that we need new gun laws (which I believe we do). This is a time of reflection…
We need to reflect on these 49 deaths, and the deaths 22 babies in New Town, and the deaths in the Arizona shopping strip that nearly took the life of a sitting member of congress; the murders in the Denver theater; the massacre in the South Carolina church, the near daily slaughter in the city of Chicago.
We need time to reflect.
Because there’s not just something keeping us from doing whats wrong; there’s something keeping us from doing the right we know to do. And I believe that’s why these heinous acts keep reoccurring.
What do you think? Talk it over…