During the wee hours of the morning on last Sunday, evil erupted into something terribly ugly. A lone gunman, Omar Mateen, armed with a hand gun and an assault weapon, entered a gay bar and murdered 49 and wounded 53 innocent people. This is the worst mass shooting ever committed on American soil.
What was the motive? Some people are convinced they know, but I’m not sure we have an accurate picture of the motive at this point. According to his first wife, Omar was an abusive husband. According to former colleagues, he was known for frequent outbursts of anger and expressions of blatant hatred toward numerous groups. The morning of his rampage at Pulse the night club, he called 911 pledging his allegiance to ISIS.
So was he sick? Was this a hate crime? Was he a terrorist who acted alone? Or some combination of these?
The public voices that we are hearing loudly and early in response to this tragedy are speaking out based on their assessment of the motive. For conservatives and liberals, this horror has occasioned more political rhetoric. Liberals say the Orlando massacre is proof we need stricter gun control. Conservative voices are reiterating their claim that President Obama is too timid to call radical Islam what it is. The LGBT community, convinced that the three hour nightmare at Pulse was all about hatred toward gays, has been ignited to unify its voice around the world.
After all, the Orlando massacre is huge. It is the worst mass shooting in the history of our country. Everybody’s talking about it. Exploiting it as a platform to further one’s message or ideology is virtually irresistible.
But what I find most troubling about the Orlando massacre is how much or how little we can do to prevent future events like it. Whether we are talking about mental illness, hatred toward a particular group, an individual that has embraced radical Islam, or any combination thereof; preventing assaults against soft targets is extremely difficult if not impossible. No matter what the motive is or was, the billion dollar question is, how do we prevent future disasters?
In the United States, we enjoy democracy at its best. Frequenting soft targets such as grocery stores, athletic events, concerts, institutions of learning, etc. is our way of life. These sites cannot be perfectly secured. If we resort to making our cities look like militarized zones, violence and terrorism will have already won. For the essence of our lifestyle will have been taken away from us. There is no denying that we live in dangerous times. But for the people of God, it’s imperative that we pray for God’s divine protection, remain vigilant toward our surroundings, and remain steadfast about our Father’s business. Christ, whom we are called to proclaim, is the only hope for our troubled world.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank King. All rights reserved.