I am what I am, and what I am is my creation- La Cage Aux Folles
Sitting with some ministers after 9/11, one minister, a man called Gary, said of the attacks, "How could I possibly do that?" No he wasn't saying that he had had anything to do with the attacks in New York and in Washington, but what he was pondering was that human beings have the ability to inflict such harm on one another. We can kill. We can fly planes into towers. We can do such evil things. We can hate. He was amazed at how hate can so take over a person that we can murder and destroy. Countless others looked for people to blame in the course of these attacks: muslims, terrorists, etc. But my friend Gary said no- it wasn't a muslim problem. It was not an issue of terrorism. It was an issue of humanity. How could we hate so?
I think we have all become rather numb to the violent attacks and mass murders since then. We have watched despicable violence happen in places such as Belgium, Indonesia, Paris, Palestine and Israel, Sandy Hook, London, Kenya, and countless other places since then. Our fingers are all to quick to point the blame at others. It is their fault. I think sometimes these acts quickly escape our notice. "Thank God it didn't happen here," we might say. But sometimes these attacks hit close to home. All of us grieved when the 20 school children and 6 adults were killed at Sandy Hook. So many hopes and dreams were cut short by a young man filled with hate. We were all left wondering, "Why this happened?"
As a gay man who has visited Orlando, I find myself filled with various emotions after the attack this past weekend: fear, rage, looking for someone to blame, seeking justice, sadness, loss of patience, and countless other emotions. As a gay man, I could have been easily have been at that club. It could have been me. I grieve for the 49 lives cut short. I grieve that someone like Omar Kateen could be filled with such hate to carry out such violence. What led him to such violence? Was it his religion? Was it mental illness? Was it internalised homophobia? Was it racism? Who knows? But how could he do it? And if he could do such an atrocity, that means that all of us have that ability to do something like that. How could I do that?
After the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France, many people placed on their Facebook profile the words Je suis Charlie, I am Charlie. They were saying that they stood with Paris. This past weekend, on Facebook, there was a picture of Donald Trump and other homophobic people with the words I am Omar Kateen. The idea of this was that these folks hatred of gay people led to the events at the Pulse nightclub. It made me laugh for a minute but then I realised it was totally wrong in another sense. It is wrong in the sense that again it divides the world into us and them. And as long as the world is us and them, there can be an excuse for violence.
It is easy to point fingers. It is easy to blame. It is easy to criticise. As long as we view the world as good and bad, saintly and evil, it is justifiable to draw lines in the sand and declare ourselves virtuous and others demonic. But all of us have the capacity for violence. If we allow ourselves to give in to fear and hate, violence will increase and more families and more groups will be suffering losses of lives cut needlessly short. And despite what the National Rifle Association says, guns are designed to do one thing- KILL. They are not a God given right. How many more children have to die before we realise that violence and blame is never the answer? As a human, I can be filled with love and compassion or I can choose blame and anger. I choose love. Blessings.