Photo from MarketWatch
I first heard about the shootings in Orlando, Florida during prayer in church on Sunday morning. I spent my weekend watching home improvement shows, watching movies, and puttering around the house and garden.
As information became public about the shooter in the worst case of gun violence in our history we learned he claimed association with ISIS. We learned the shooter may have had issues with his own sexuality, visiting the bar several times. For any person of faith, Christian or Muslim, questions about sexual orientation are difficult. We also learned his behavior became unpredictable over the last year, perhaps due to mental health issues.
His wife, co-workers, and friends contacted the authorities about the erratic behavior which resulted in the shooter being added to watch lists, and investigation by the FBI. The FBI found no association with terrorists nor sympathetic organizations. The FBI did find him “an angry young man.” We also learned the shooter purchased his weapon during this period.
In the months before the Orlando shootings this “angry young man” listened daily to political talk about building a wall, closing boarders, domestic surveillance and/or deportation of anyone of his faith.
Also during the months leading up to the shootings was the passage of bathroom and other laws which can be viewed as state sanctioned discrimination against members of the LGBT community. Members of the LGBT community have been portrayed as a danger to women and children.
“An angry young man” full of hate killed 49 people in the most deadly mass shooting on record. Our political language, as well as our personal language has an impact. There is a war going on not only against ISIL, but against hate. It is a war defending the American experience and values. The values of inclusiveness, and giving everyone a chance.