In a recent appalling incident 49 people were shot dead, and 53 wounded in a shooting that took place in Pulse, a club in Orlando.
The rise of gun violence in the United States is common knowledge. Quite disturbingly, there have been recent incidences in Panaroma City and New Mexico. But what makes this incident different from the rest is probably the fact that Pulse is a gay club.
The killer was Omar Mateen, a man known to be sympathetic to jihadi sentiments. However he does not seem to be directly affiliated to the ISIS or any other terrorist group. Routine background checks (which included psychological evaluations) by G4S, the security company he worked for, did not reveal any tangible information that might have been predictive of his actions.
However his internet search history has shown that he consumed a lot of propaganda. He seems to have been influenced to quite an extent by jihadist sentiments.
This shooting was in fact, a demonstration of an effort by a radical person to ‘cleanse’ out the community. And this is in a country where gay marriages are legal in all states.
Maybe it is time we looked at how tolerant we, the people of the world, are.
In a country like India, where homosexuality is banned by law, questions asking if homosexuality is ‘right’ or ‘natural’ are still debatable to many.
However, the more important thing here is not whether the people who were shot were ‘justified’ in their sexual orientations or not, but if such extreme actions are warranted on anyone’s part towards people who do things that they deem dishonorable.
There are seven billion people in this world. To expect everyone to accept, or even understand the rationality of our arguments is in fact, at its very base a flawed idea. As citizens of this nation, and of this world, the sooner we make our peace with this the better.
When we talk to people, when we listen to them, it opens our minds to broader avenues. We develop as individuals, we become capable of thinking differently. We do not have to ingrain their beliefs or think that we are wrong. Just listen. Nod our heads. We will become more intelligent.
Unfortunately for us, our intolerance affects us more than anyone else. There is only so much of the world we can change to suit our mindset, and we will have to live with the rest of it in pain. And that pain can be excruciating for some of us, so much so that we might end up doing things like the ones that led up to the events that transpired on that fateful night.
Omar Mateen was no extraordinary man. He worked as a security guard in Florida. He was driven by homophobia, he had access to a gun and he thought he was fit enough to decide the fate of those people in the club. If he had been more tolerant, the people who died that night would have lived. He would have lived.
Around the world, the incident has garnered widespread support.
A vigil was held at Los Angeles City Hall on Monday. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times
Eiffel Tower lit up in the rainbow colours
The world has gathered to show its support to Orlando victims and their families. People in Orlando are rallying to donate blood for the victims. The turnout for blood drives has been so big, traffic is snarled in several areas, and OneBlood (https://www.oneblood.org/) had to start turning donors away because it ran out of supplies. People were parking on the grass and sidewalk to get in line. Others walked through the crowds, passing out water, bagels, sunscreen and Gatorade.
POTUS Barack Obama has petitioned to put an end to gun violence. It is time we are more tolerant, more accepting of the fact that not everyone in the world is going to see things our way; and simply killing them is not the way to go about it.
There has been a lot of debate going around the world as to whether this was an act of ‘terrorism’ or if Mateen had mental health issues. In either case, Mateen the Terrorist or Mateen the Mental Health Patient had a hard time accepting an idea.
Let us be more loving, more vocal, and put our words where our weapons are. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.