The Deadly Triangle
The Pulse incident in Orlando combined the combustible mixture of homophobia, religion, and assault weapons into an explosion that rocked the nation. The reactions have been all across the board, depending upon people’s political persuasions. The big question remains: will another mass shooting change public policy in any way?
We’ve already seen “religious freedom” bills that legalize homophobic bigotry as a backlash against same-sex marriage. We’ve seen transgender people singled out for particular discrimination. We’ve had numerous calls for new gun control laws and bans of assault weapons, and the other side says we need more guns. We’ve heard the about the terrible state of mental health services in the US. We’ve experienced a rapid growth of radical extremists of all stripes. We’ve hunkered down in a state of fear, confusion, blame, and dug into our entrenched positions like the bunkers of WWI. The bloody assaults continue in an expanding war zone, but solutions seem even further beyond the horizon.
Violence as a strategic weapon of political and religious zeal isn’t new; it’s as old as history. Only the players change on the world stage, and we’re witnessing act 2016. Some have described the tensions in the US as the culture wars and the rise of religious militias across the world as a push back against modernism. The difference is that the wars are not limited to national states or even regional conflicts, but now we seem to be at war with ourselves, even within the Christian community. On June 14, the North Carolina Values Coalition and Keep NC Safe held a press conference at the NC General Assembly building to promote HB 2. They said the Orlando killer was a radical Muslim terrorist and not a homophone. Other Christian ministers have praised the killer, and the Lt. Gov of Texas commented "reap what you sow.".
We have instantaneous communications all across the world, but little context or understanding of what is happening. We had two great wars in the 20th Century that devastated nations and cost millions of lives, but they were not a new phenomenon. They simply were grander in scale. The conflicts now are as much about ideology as nationalism. We shrug it off and say we can’t get rid of all the mad men who are full of anger and have the means to kill a lot of people. When we’re asked to pray for peace or comfort those who suffer, it has a hollow ring to it because we can’t see a path to the future.
Violence is still perceived as a viable resolution of conflicts. In a world of uncertainty, we strike out at each other rather than cooperate. We clamor for a small piece of hope that might provide some security while we lack good will and trust. Love will conquer all only when it is given a chance, and we only see glimpses of it here and there. All of the LGBT vigils across the nation this week have talked about love and grieved for the victims and their families. Many religious leaders and the President of the United States decried the violence against the LGBT community. Even the Governor of North Carolina lowered the flags in memory of the disaster. But a few inside the NC legislature and others still see the murders as God’s will. How can we dialogue with such a perverse group of people?