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.