Been trying to decide if I should comment on what happened in Orlando. I’ve “been there, done that” on that round-about of futility that I call debating/arguing over the pertinent issues/controversies surrounding tragedies like this. Being in a line of work that takes me to countless amazing public events, I occasionally reflect on how easy it would be for somebody to commit an act like this anywhere. And not just an event, but any bar or club where people gather. But ultimately I get immersed in the event and do my thing and have a good time. Just last week a colleague and I shot a band at KC’s own Pridefest, and at the time my colleague expressed concern about a wackjob opening fire there. I understood his concern, but in the end, we can only live our lives.
It’s maddening that the dynamic of the narrative is almost completely predicated on if the shooter is white (“He had MENTAL ISSUES!”), or Muslim (“His religion MADE HIM DO IT!”), or black or hispanic (“DRUG DEAL gone bad!”). Be honest, when the news broke, how many of you were hoping it would turn out to be the scenario that fit YOUR political viewpoint? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So far, it seems like it’s the second one, which sets its own tone of debate away from gun access to religious motivations and how we need to “do something” about “those muslims”. Yeah, let’s persecute people based ENTIRELY on their religion (and let’s dig up Muhammad Ali’s remains and burn them while we’re at it). The fact is, any of those scenarios are possible and all have happened, and not always with the attendant motivations attached to the ethnicity of the perpetrator. I happen to think assholes like this will use anything that conveniently rationalizes their actions because what they really want is a sense of power and agency in a world where they’ve never had any, whether it’s a religious verse in a book motivating them, or something as mundane as not being able to get laid (or sometimes even both).
What are the answers to stopping things like this? The pointless debates everyone keeps rehashing seems to assume there are straightforward answers that will fix problems like this, IF ONLY the other side got their heads out of their asses and complied. But the thing is, maybe there ARE NO answers and this is just something we have to accept as being a fact of life in the 21st century. Tighter gun control laws wouldn’t necessarily have stopped this; if the asshole who did this was determined, he could’ve acquired a gun illegally with only a little effort. Monitoring and profiling muslims also wouldn’t have necessarily stopped this; a lone wolf actor (like this guy probably will turn out to be) is very difficult to identify and, despite Donald Trump’s assertions to the contrary, often times his own family doesn’t see it coming (as the asshole’s father has already issued a statement on).
I’ve said this before: nearly all of us drive a car or truck everyday, and many of us fly on airplanes on a regular basis, each with its attendant risks from accidents and crashes (car crashes alone accounting for a far higher death total in a year than mass shootings/terror attacks). But we still do it, because we accept the risks and take the best precautions we can. I’m sure there are people reading this ready to come after me for coming across as being callous, insensitive or “blind to the facts” or some other bullshit that will fit their political vantage point. Fine, whatever. I hate what happened in Orlando. And I hate what happened in San Bernadino and in Paris. I also hate what happened at the movie theaters in Colorado and Louisiana. Not to mention the black church in South Carolina. We need to do the best we can to prevent things like this from happening, but with the full understanding that nothing we do can really end it, only mitigate it and perhaps prevent as many such incidents as possible.
I realize this may sound fatalistic or even depressing, and for a lot of people who are convinced that this is a problem that can ultimately be “fixed” if only we executed the solution of their choice (banning guns vs banning muslims), it probably sounds ludicrous and tantamount to throwing my hands up in surrender (more like futility). But it’s really not. I believe that when you accept the world as it is, you begin to live you can begin to make the best choices for your own life personally, and also to promote change in more effective ways. Say a prayer for those who lost their lives and their families, and give thanks for the blessings we do have.