The Test of Orlando

They were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. They had plans for the next day, for the following week, and for the rest of their lives. Just like the rest of us.

They left behind loved ones that will mourn, pets that will never understand why they aren’t coming home, and the forever unfilled promise of their future selves. Just like the rest of us would.

They each had a unique DNA, one they had since the very moment they were conceived and one that never existed before them and one that will never exist again. They were babies once, who grew into teenagers and young adults bringing great pride and joy to the parents who sacrificed for them. Just like the rest of us.

Of the ones who died in the Orlando night club this past weekend, the most fortunate were those that never saw it coming; who were shot and died instantly before anyone fully realized what was happening. The rest were trapped and hunted down, fully aware that they were in the final moments of their lives. They spent those final moments coping with the realization that despite their hoped-for grand exits from this life in a very distant future, their lives, instead, were about to end on a dirty rest room floor, or with their hands wrapped around their heads in fear trapped between another victim and a wall, or lying on a dance floor with the taste of their final celebratory drink still in their mouths. Not a single one of them deserved to die that way or to die at all.

For all of them, their final breaths brought a merciful end to the ugliness. For the rest of us, though, a new ugliness was about to begin in a most sickening way.

Before their bodies were cold, social media lit up. First to bring the news, then soon after to bring the attacks. Facebook is never uglier than in the immediate aftermath of these events. It is polluted by those who jump to conclusions or are eager to use them to justify their own political views and attack someone else’s.

Was your first impulse to pray for the grieving families or was it to be right about gun control or terrorism? For atheists, was your first reaction to be self-righteous and politically correct, or was it to be at the very least respectful of those who lost their lives and the forever-scarred who survived it and would be subjected to these posts, by not fueling the anger spewing throughout your friends’ news feeds?

Are we so wrapped up in our politics, so beholden to our chosen party and our pride that we’ve forgotten that we are human beings first? Are we Democrats and Republicans before all else? I get there needs to be discussion, but that’s not what is vomited onto social media in the aftermath of these tragic events. Further, there is a “time to tear down and a time to build.” (Ecclesiastes 3:3) While families wait desperately to hear from potential victims, while the victims’ blood is still streaming from their lifeless bodies, and while families are forced to make plans to bury their loved ones, it is most certainly not the time to tear down.

I don’t understand either the ‘how’ or the ‘why’ we are so quick to argue, especially at times like these. Perhaps it is to distract us from the painful realization that the shooter was just like us, just a more extreme version of ourselves.


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