Our country is hurting once again.
Sunday morning, as many of us slept in peace and quiet, hundreds were terrorized at a gay bar in Orlando. That is because a gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire and killed 50 people and injured many more. It is the worst terrorist attack on American soil since the horror of September 11, 2001. It is the worst mass shooting in American history.
It is yet another moment when our nation easily divides itself and attempts to move into the rapid response of righteous anger and judgment.
Hours after the tragedy social media was filled with many rightly condemning the attacks and, unfortunately, blaming those they disagree with for not seeing the world as they do. Liberals decried the attack, and conservatives, as another moment that shows how we need gun control. Several more suggested that conservatives who do not accept homosexuality are responsible. Conservatives, on the other hand, denounced anyone who did not immediately suggest that we should remove all Muslims from the nation. As well, conservatives were easily angered at any suggestion that this was about guns and not mental health.
Whether it is Orlando, Newtown, Paris, and so many other moments, we have grown accustomed to using these moments to show our righteous anger and to prove the righteousness of our own cause and efforts. In doing so, we create strawmen out of the people whom we see as contributing to the violence we see in the world. We point to the other person and view and say they are the problem and the reason this kind of unthinkable violence continues.
We do this because in the face of violence we have to blame someone to make ourselves feel safe, to feel protected, and to feel right within ourselves. Evil scares us and when faced with what scares us we need someone to point to as the cause of such injustice in the world.
The truth is this: No one caused the violence we saw yesterday but a man who sought to do unthinkable harm to someone else. It wasn’t the fault of conservatives. It wasn’t the fault of liberals. It wasn’t the fault of Christians. It wasn’t the fault of Muslims. It was the fault of one man who made the choice to do evil.
In the days to come, we will have the chance to properly reflect upon these acts of senseless violence. This will require us to hear from each other and to accept that in responding to tragedy we need each other because the answers are always more complex than we would typical once. Thus, liberals will need to be willing to hear from conservatives and conservatives will need to hear from liberals. The best solutions to complex issues comes when we are willing to listen to each other and not immediately denounce someone that has a different view than us.
We can hope that a better response will come out of the tears from Orlando. For now, we must sit in shame that we have done that which we always seems to do: Blame someone else.