The recent tragedy in Orlando appears to prove everyone's point.

Depending on your particular views, it proves that Muslims are terrorists, that homosexuals are a hated, targeted minority, that we need to ban guns, that we need more armed citizens, that Republicans are evil, that Democrats are idiots, that we'll continue to have mass killings unless we spend a lot more on mental health issues, that we'll continue to have terrorist attacks unless we bomb ISIS into the ground.... Take your pick.

It also proves my own point:  To view another human being as something less than human is to stand on a precipice in a hurricane. And the problem with America today is that we are all doing this. There is no "America"—there is only Those Kind-hearted, Intelligent Folks Who Agree with Me, and Those Good-for-Nothing, Moronic, Evil-Minded Others Who Don't Deserve to Live.

After the attack, a rant popped up on my Facebook page listing someone's random, gut-level thoughts. I can't be too hard on him, given that my own immediate, gut-level thoughts in any situation are rarely as they would be if I took time to think about them. But I thought it notable that one of his thoughts was: To those of you who disagree, I'll say "[expletive deleted] you" now, since after you comment I'll immediately unfriend you so you won't see my response. And he ended his list with: I love you all.


At a minimum, if you love someone, you listen to him. Respectfully.

In this videoAmaryllis Fox is speaking primarily about foreign policy, but her words are at least as important domesticallyProbably more so—beginning not with governments, but with ourselves, and in our own relationships(Thanks, Maggie M.)

The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to him.

As long as your enemy is a subhuman psychopath that's going to attack you no matter what you do, this never ends.



When terrorists attacked Paris, French flags blossomed on Facebook pages and world monuments. When terrorists attacked Brussels, the Belgian flag was similarly displayed.

But when Orlando, Florida suffers a terrorist attack, where are the American flags?  Has everyone changed his Facebook profile picture to feature the Stars and Stripes?

I didn't think so. (Not even on Flag Day.)  Instead, there are rainbows.

Folks, this is not a "gay issue."  This is an American issue. This is a human issue. But we have splintered ourselves so badly that there is almost no America left.

The problem is not Muslims.

It is not anyone's sexual preference.

It is not guns, nor gun-owners.

It is not mental illness.

It is not immigrants.

It is not men, nor women; not white, nor black.

It is not Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Fascists, Communists.

The problem is people—individual people—who do wrong things. People who break the law. If we forget that, we're lost.

Of course it starts with the heart, with thinking wrong thoughts. But there are only two beings responsible for correcting wrong thoughts:  the individual, and God. (If you're an atheist, you're stuck with yourself alone. Maybe polytheists do better?)

The rest of us are not and must not be thought police; we must rely on the law. No matter how much we believe someone has done something wrong, even something really evil, we are almost always wrong to take the law into our own hands.

The specter of vigilantism ought to terrify every one of us—whether in the form of lynch mobs, illegally detaining someone suspected of terrorism, or hounding a professor out of his job for espousing an unpopular idea.

We the People are perilously close to giving up our most basic civil and human rights, our essential protections, the essence of civilization—because we are afraid. We are so certain that we are right and others are wrong that we willingly deny them the legal—and social—considerations we need for ourselves.

What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide? ... I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake! — from A Man for All Seasons.

It was not labels that died in Orlando on Sunday. It was people. One by one by one, each born into a family, each with friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Each loved and needed by someone.

This time it happened in a gay nightclub in Orlando, in the wee hours of the morning. I'm hoping that the reason no one has asked me if I'm okay is that they know that the last place I'd be at that hour is where there would be ear-splitting rock music. But that is so far from the point. If you're looking at avoiding a mass shooting, I'd say it would be better to stay out of schools than gay bars. But it could happen anywhere. We won't avoid terrorist attacks by having or not having a certain label. Ask most of the Muslims in Africa and the Middle East how sharing a religious label with many of the terrorists is working out for them.

Listen to each other, folks. Please. If we don't recognize our common humanity, we're toast.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Edit
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