Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Making Sense of Horror

Sunday morning on Twitter there was news that 20 people had been shot in a night club in Orlando, Florida. By the time I got to church the word was that 20 had been killed, and at least 50 injured, a terrible loss of life. When we got home early in the afternoon the death toll had soared to fifty, the worst domestic loss of life in such an incident in American history.

Apparently the killer called 911 to claim affiliation with ISIS or DAESH, and while they enthusiastically agreed (pure evil) there is little evidence that he was connected to any terrorist group/ We're told by experts that while a fair number of these mass murderers claim religious affiliation, including Islam, their heinous acts are usually related to rage. The young man who killed several black prayer group members at a Charleston South Carolina church almost exactly a year ago had weird white supremacist notions with a quasi-Christian connection -- as did the Ku Klux Klan. Of course Donald Trump was quickly into his racist and anti-Muslim schtick, going so far as to say that foreign and other American Muslims were in on the rampage.

By Sunday evening vigils were organized and held in a number of cities around the world, including Toronto. These events recognized that the rage of the perpetrator was directed toward the LGBTQ community, and people in the night club died because they were gay. Member of Parliament and United Church minister Rob Oliphant was at the Toronto vigil and spoke on television and radio the next day. He reminded people that he is a gay man and is MP for a riding with one of the highest Muslim populations in Canada. He had received many messages of solidarity from Muslim constituents, which touched him deeply.

The other aspect of this story which has received less attention is the mental health of the shooter. His ex-wife identified that she had been abused in their relationship and claimed he was bi-polar. Often those who are mental health advocates shudder when mental illness and murder are associated because it perpetuates the stigmas and stereotypes.

We will open Bridge St. at midday on Friday for a time of reflection and we will ring our bell 49 times in memory of those who died. We need to do something in this community.


1 comment:

Judy said...

Although I am sure many will want to express solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims, I am not sure what we can do , in this community, to help stem the tide of mass murders in the USA - the grim fact is that guns are readily available to anyone, and assault weapons are among those which are easy to procure - it makes it simple for a terrorist or a mentally ill person to act on his/her rage at any time . Canadians cannot change American laws - the citizens of the USA have to see for themselves that a dire change in gun control laws is necessary, for starters. Other countries have made the change and have experienced greatly reduced incidences of these kinds of mindless, senseless attacks.