Can any of us truly imagine or comprehend the overwhelming grief the victims and families are experiencing from the Orlando mass shooting? Most likely the answer is no. Most of us have experienced loss in our lives, but not in this way or through such painful and helpless circumstances.
Innocent people dying who were completely powerless and unable to get out of harm’s way is difficult to fathom. No one can predict when, where, or how something like this will occur in the future which contributes to our fears and worries about living life freely and without anxiety. Some people withdraw and isolate themselves from situations that they consider fear-inducing while others mask their emotions and deny the impact it has on their lives. Others confront their feelings, talk openly about them, and approach life with a healthy amount of vigilance. Let’s face it, we can’t control every aspect of life and we would be expending an inordinate amount of time and energy if that were our primary focus.
So why did this happen? What would motivate a person to do this? The media have called it a hate crime or an act of terror. The recurring characteristics of suspects in violent rampages are the same – being a loner, embittered, angry/resentful, short-tempered and disconnected from society. There are probably multiple factors and variables that contributed to this senseless act, but the frequency with which these types of incidents occur is both disturbing and puzzling. Could it be due to the increased exposure to violence through the media and our desensitization to violence? Or our increased ability to communicate our message/opinion for all to see/hear and ability to receive validation of our views, regardless of how hateful?
Understanding the reasons may be helpful, but more importantly, what are possible solutions to stop this recurring pattern of senseless violence? Some focus on blame such as guns, mental health problems, government, religion, and/or the media. We can either focus on blame or seek solutions to solve the problem. What about restricting the availability of high velocity, multiple round assault weapons? What about working to improve long-standing discrimination, intolerance, and even hatred towards people who are different, whether it be sexual preference, race, or religion by teaching and modeling compassion, empathy, and tolerance for all human beings? Certainly providing more education, awareness, and resources for mental health problems would be helpful. When tragedy strikes, it motivates me to stay more connected to my family and friends, focus on my faith, and take action when necessary and appropriate to keep my family, neighborhood, and community safe. Let’s all take responsibility for positive change and not allow fear to stop us from living.