June 13, 2016

Never Needed A Gun

"paradise is a world where everything
is a sanctuary & nothing is a gun."

—Danez Smith, from "summer, somewhere"

An American “Muslim terrorist” who was a US citizen with Afghani roots, and had “pledged allegiance” to ISIS, commits the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, killing 50 black and Latino homosexuals and injuring 50 more, during Ramadan, on the eve of Pride weekend. There are countless complex and broken systems at play here that need unraveling, but I know at least three words that are a good place to start- Acceptance. Education. Love.

All day long, I have been absorbed with twitter feeds and news stories. Watching every group, from every side politicize this tragedy, only to criticize opposing groups of politicizing things in a different direction. The Christian Right, The Muslims, The NRA, The Congressmen and women sending their “thoughts and prayers, as if they didn’t have a more powerful tool at their disposable. As if they were not elected by the people of these United States to legislate safety, justice, or freedom. As if their sole purpose was not to ensure that the citizens of our fine nation didn't have to live in fear of being murdered for simply being a human being.

“Thoughts and Prayers” spoken by people who are powerless is a sad enough statement, but when “Thoughts and Prayers” are the modus operandi of the very people chosen to create and enact laws, well…then it becomes criminal.

But this post was not meant to lay down words that assign blame. I was hoping to avoid the anger and the rage, for at least a few minutes of the day. The finger pointing and self-appreciating of being “right” in the face of such death and destruction feels hopeless.

The web that has been spun from which this monster has been hatched is too tangled for simple answers, but it is clear that we are dealing with a broken culture. And while their are many contributing factors to what has broken American culture to the point where we not only export wholesale violence to every corner of the land both with our military, but also with our cancerous capitalistic system, but now the violence that has made our dreams possible has turned inward. And it is destroying the very fabric of our land. From shootings in churches to Gay clubs. From Ferguson to Trump’s wall to rapes on college campuses, we are a nation suffering from fear and hatred and ignorance. We sit shell-shocked, immobile, numb and powerless.

But it doesn’t have to be this painful or difficult. We live in an age of unprecedented diversity in our nation. We live in the digital information age, where exposure to ideas and people is a swipe or click away. Why are so many of us ruled by fear and hatred? Why do so many people dwell in their insecurities and follow their hate? What the hell are we so afraid of?

This culture of xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and racism do not happen by accident. These fear-based views of humanity are taught in our churches and our mosques. They are the platforms of our political parties. They are garbled and twisted and spewed from our televisions and “news” networks. We have allowed ourselves to look away from ourselves. We've wrapped ourselves so tightly in a blanket of ignorance and hate for far so long, that we are terrified that we might freeze to death without it.

But what do I know? I have no answers. This is hard and difficult and it hurts. So may groups marginalized, raped, murdered and for what? Really for what? There are so many places in the word where people just get along. They live and let live. Places where people are not doomed by their own fear. Places where the diversity of our species is celebrated and rewarded. It doesn’t have to be so hard America. All you have to do is act from a place of love, understanding, and acceptance. Do you remember how to do that?

Here is a clue, in this place…this place of love and understanding you don’t need your gun. So -please check it at the door, or leave it at your hunting lodge, or better yet melt it down and recycle it into something more useful.

Love has never needed a gun and it never will.

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