Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Heartsick

Good morning, friends.

My comments refer to the events in Orlando over the weekend, as well as some that have occurred since.  I'm not a gay man, though I know some gay men and women.  But I am a human being and that qualifies me to write what follows.

Where are we in this country that people target and attack other people as though they're playing some sort of video game or computer simulation, particularly when those attacks are based on a specific demographic, like race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity?  And at what point do our legislators do the right thing and look past the massive financial contributions of the National Rifle Association to institute any form of gun control in this country?

I was deeply saddened that, yet again, this country has been stained by a large-scale mass shooting, this time leaving 49 dead and approximately that many others wounded.  We're now learning more about the shooter, his motivations, his problems.  We're also learning how he was considered to be under some suspicion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation multiple times, yet he was able to walk into a gun store and purchase an assault rifle and a handgun, no questions asked.  And I feel for the store owner, who was clearly sickened by these events, yet whose hands were and are tied by the lack of regulations that would have prevented this from happening.

We're also learning that the shooter's wife may have tried to talk him out of this series of actions, yet sometime in the past she apparently drove him to the club where Saturday night's carnage took place and accompanied him on his firearms purchasing trip.

And we're now seeing that certain politicians are willing to use this event for self-congratulation and to accuse our sitting President of sympathy to terrorist groups to whom this shooter pledged his allegiance.  That President Obama was compelled to refute these accusations yesterday is absurd, at best, yet this is the society we now inhabit.  One where a man who has made and lost fortunes with other people's money is held up as the potential savior of our country, largely because a certain segment of the population has seen him on a television game show in which he utters the famous words "you're fired" to great dramatic effect.  And he is deemed by this segment of the population to be qualified to "make America great again" because of this.

This is not a game or a trial run or a series of actions that come with a do-over.  Real lives hang in the balance, both here in the United States and around the world.  And the world is watching us, to see if we recover from this latest diversion from the real issues that face our country and our world.  Building walls to keep the "wrong" people out will not solve anything, nor will astronomically high tariffs on imported goods magically restore lost American manufacturing jobs.

I sincerely hope that what's happened will finally result in meaningful action regarding the control of guns by those who should not have access to them.  I also hope that the lunacy that we are hearing as part of our national political discourse will somehow give way to realistic solutions proposed by conscientious people and implemented through a tough-but-fair give and take political process in which all viewpoints are considered and compromises reached.

I hope for all of this for our world not only right now, but for the future--for my children and grandchildren, so that we can be confident they will live in a society where human life has more value than the NRA's political capital.




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