Like others, I have been deeply moved by the horrific shooting that took place in Orlando, FL. Unfortunately, we may see more of these types of tragedies in the future.
Unlike others, however, I do not wish to politicize this event, the loss of life, or the targeting of homosexuals. Their lives mattered more than our often petty desires to say “see, I told you so.”
Personally I find it absolutely grotesque that our elected officials no longer wait for people to stop dying before they advocate for their favorite policy. They use death as a vehicle to further their political clout. Where is the humanity in exploiting tragedy for immediate political gain?
Along these lines, WE are also the problem. Any time something like this happens, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media erupt in finger pointing and conflict. Partisan lines are drawn, allegiance is reinforced, and the citizens with whom we may disagree with instantly become the “other."
To be certain, there is a difference between examining policy options after a mass shooting and immediately calling for gun control and confiscation or, conversely, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration. Neither elevates the better angles of our nature and neither allows the families time to grieve, to bury their loved ones, to say goodbye to those who are going to pass, or to pick up their lives. We do not honor victims or show a deference for human suffering and grief when we rush to elevate and to affirm our personal and political biases and to blame those we don’t agree with. These are the actions of the narcissist.
I’m going to do two things here as both an educator and a person moved by the terrible loss of life. First, I’m providing a link to a NYT’s editorial. The editorial examines how WE construct our reality out of events like this to reaffirm our biases and bigotries. It’s called “motivated reasoning” and it affects us all. Maybe if we understand this very human propensity we can better control it.
The second link I’m providing connects you to the names of the victims and to the various pictures of them living their lives. These were talented, beautiful people with dreams and aspirations. They had families who loved them................ and they deserved better than this.
Please, take a moment to mourn their loss. Call your family members and let them know you love them. Make right with people you have wronged. Forgive those who have wronged you. Do so in their name so their final contribution to this world can be the transformation of hate into love and the conversion of intolerance into tolerance.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology