I am not a late sleeper and never have been as an adult. This Sunday morning woke at 4:30 a.m. and, sadly, it’s another morning filled with news of a new hate crime that is being called “domestic terrorism” by Orlando, Florida police. But it is clearly a stark and heartbreaking reminder that hatred is still very prevalent is America today and has been emboldened by a political candidate who, either purposely or not, opened a Pandora’s Box of what some in America see as acceptable.
I am NOT blaming Donald Trump for the atrocious act that we know so little about this morning as I write this, but as we look at at least 20 dead, over 40 injured, and a story that will unfold over the course of the day and weeks ahead, I once again fear that hatred is here to stay for a very long time. Though we know little about this early morning horror-show, the LGBTQ community, who have suffered so profoundly, once again appears to have been targeted. How we end that suffering is a mystery that I pray I could solve, as do many.
With the volume of hate being shared far and wide this past year and in the last few years, including verbal and physical attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ community more specifically, hate has become the new normal to the point that it doesn’t even raise the ire of most people any longer. That is maybe the most depressing aspect of this most recent attack on our fellow Americans.
Welcome to the “new normal”.
I was not planning on writing this piece this morning and, in fact, was going to post something much more positive and uplifting as we could all use that kind of news. But the reality of what faces us as we begin our Sunday forced my hand, literally.
I will be honest and tell you I am afraid. I am afraid for “constituencies” that are targets of hate and vitriol. I am afraid that no words or actions will erase or even slow the pace of hatred in this country given how our political opponents seem to increase the hatred we oppose. I am afraid that the new normal I am writing about can and may escalate and that we will become so numb or accustomed to it that our response will be a simple, “Really? Another one?”
I pray I am wrong on every level. A person can be wrong, but I do not think I am.
The debate, or lack thereof, about gun control and access to weaponry that does not belong in the general public’s hands will not change. We already know that, don’t we? When dozens of children are killed with their teachers in an elementary school and Congress does nothing but talk about it, it is all too telling. When many years after the Columbine shooting we still have no real expectations that we can protect our children while they are at school and supposedly being kept safe but are anything but, it is telling.
When we debate “open carry” in our public schools as if that should even be a debate, it is telling.
When the many decades of the tradition called the Boston Marathon becomes a battlefield of death and destruction and nothing meaningful is done to prevent future occurrences, well, that is telling, as well.
We once had a president who, in the aftermath of the most destructive and death-filled act of terror on our homeland, tells us the best way to get back to normal was to go shopping, well, that is telling, as well.
Yes, I am afraid.
I am afraid for my children, who are all adults. I am afraid for my grandchildren who, it now looks like, will grow up in an America where hate is just a way of life and enjoying a night out, being who you are born to be, makes you a target for hate; something to fear.
I am afraid for the many parents and family members and their friends, who will never know an America that is safe and accepting, will accept this new normal. We are no closer and, I might even suggest, even further away from love and acceptance than we have ever been.
I am afraid, because I, like many others, who are paying attention and see that the ascent of our first black President fostered more hatred against the black communities in this country instead of making the path to a better life with LESS racism was just an idea and not a reality.
I am afraid that real or imagined, the militarism of local police has become a fear in too many communities and has not been dealt with in a realistic manner.
I am afraid that the Pandora’s Box I mentioned that was opened up by a political campaign that appealed to the lowest common denominator in society and has made hate and harassment not just acceptable in some corners of this country but freed a deep seated opportunity that should have never been open.
I fear that in some circles parenting is no longer about teaching compassion, right from wrong, or about love versus hate. Instead, for some, it is about how little they can do – like finding a cheap babysitter so they have their beer money for Friday night. Their idea of guardianship is to put in the least amount of effort and hoping upon hope that their kids become self-sufficient as quickly as possible. Yes, it does happen in this place we call America and, for some there appears to be a deep-seated yearning to take as little responsibility as possible, to blame others for our lot in life, and to express ourselves in the most violent and hateful ways. To have that legitimized by “leaders” of society is something to be very afraid of.
I am most afraid that I am not wrong.
As I stop to pray for a country, a community, a city and a people who are so lost in hate right now that they cannot see how permanent the damage is becoming, we can just continue to talk about the fix all we want. But the real fix isn’t talk at all; the real fix just may be some simple advice most of you will recognize: treat others as you wish to be treated, or in its more original context, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.
What an inspired and spiritual idea!