I try to keep things fun and lighthearted around here, yet the world won’t let me. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to look at the news and think “didn’t know them,” or “don’t care,” but the reality is, I care… we all care. I have a bad habit of waking up to horrible news, a habit that I’m well-aware is shared by many, with 9/11 and the disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia being two examples of where I simply opened my eyes to see the tragedy on television. Social media wasn’t full-blown back then, and today I made the mistake of checking my phone first-thing… still in bed, but with my wife at my side and my girls playing. The news that something terrible had happened in Orlando — just days after another heinous act in that city — was unavoidable, as were the never-ending “thoughts and prayers” delivered by the tens of thousands via status update and tweet, none more insincere than those delivered by politicians, with tweets by some such as GNC Chair Reince Priebus being called out for essentially being “copied and pasted” from their statements about past tragedies. Sandy Hook, Boston, that jerk in Fox Lake – we’re long-past the whole “truth is stranger than fiction” thing, because real life is more twisted and terrifying than any media created for purpose of entertainment or to be fear-provoking. This country is a mess, and “thoughts and prayers” will do nothing to help anyone… but the proper actions and reactions just might.
There was a tweet (now deleted) from a person who escaped the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that read, “Never seen so many dead bodies on the floor, God is good that my friends and I didn’t get shot.” Apparently this “God” was “not good” for the 50+ that won’t ever get to go home to their loved ones, an insensitive and bullshit statement that was probably deleted after being posted in the heat of the moment. Every time there is an event like this – a “mass shooting,” an “act of terror,” whatever it’s being called, the pattern is the same: sorrow and outrage followed by complacency and a shrug of the shoulders as everyone moves on. As a people, we came together after 9/11 – a Nation united by tragedy that showed a true sense of brotherhood and humanity. Religion, sex, political affiliation – didn’t matter. Shouldn’t matter. People caring about one another – that’s what mattered, and despite what caused it, there were glimmers of hope that I personally had never seen before.
In time, it was all gone.
History does, indeed, repeat itself, and in the case of these “mass casualty events,” with increasing frequency… just like the reaction: sorrow and outrage followed by complacency and a shrug of the shoulders as everyone moves on.
As a person… a fellow human, the victims and families whose lives have been shattered due to last night’s shooting are most certainly in my thoughts, but that will not help them. They will not be in my prayers, because I pray to no one, and even if I did, my prayers would not help them. Prayers will not stop a bullet or raise the dead. Prayers will not stop this from happening again.
This event is already being politicized and used for party line purposes on both sides of the aisle (for the record, I’m a registered Independent) as we approach a Presidential Election with the worst field of candidates that I’ve seen in my adult life, and perhaps in the history of this country. It will be spun by countless organizations to fit whatever narrative is needed. Whether it be the NRA or your neighborhood Church, the Republicans or Democrats, “we the people” will be caught in the crossfire of nonsense and horseshit. Tons of talk, with little action.
It’s unfortunate that what happened took place at an LGBT club on Pride weekend, but even that’s being spun, for better or worse. Doesn’t matter what kind of club it was, or what weekend it was – these were human beings that were out to have a good time with friends and loved ones. One person decided to take that away from them.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the madness. It’s not gun control. It’s not playing one religion against another. It’s not building walls. We’ve got a long, long road ahead to figure this out, and it’s not something that one regime will be able to fix in a 4-8 year term, and it’s foolish to think that a change will happen practically overnight, especially with the amount of finger-pointing that follows all of this. Hell, by the time the next “mass casualty event” takes place, most people will be long-done with being upset about this one. I’m a realist and know this to be true, though I’d hope to be proven wrong. I didn’t know anyone that was in that nightclub last night, but I won’t forget – and I will stay angry, just as I have with the rest of the dates on the growing Terror Tour.
Until there is a long-term plan for making our country (let’s start here at home before policing the globe) a safer place, the cycle will continue again and again, and that terrifies me as a parent. It’s time for people to put their “thoughts” to work for something constructive – to take action when needed, and to be prepared with the right reaction as well. I’m not in a position of power, but if I were, I wouldn’t be adding insult to injury with an endless stream of empty and meaningless “thoughts and prayers.”
In the famous words of Bill & Ted, “Be Excellent to Each Other!”