A response to the one word prompt ‘understanding’ https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/27030/posts/1056420811
Today the world woke up to news that Omar Mateen opened fire in an Orlando night club, killing 50 people and injuring many more. It is an event so terrible it is beyond comprehension and reminds us that while many societies may be becoming more understanding, there is still a long way to go.
It seems impossible that it is mere coincidence the attack was in a gay club as the LGBTQIA+ community has encountered generations of struggle to be accepted and still faces fierce opposition. Homophobia stands in direct opposition to understanding; it represents ignorance and lack of empathy, invalidating forms of love which they do not understand and in extreme cases like Orlando, deciding that those who are not cis and straight do not have the right to live. While the main force of the tragedy is with those innocent people robbed of a future, surviving hostages and their families, it is important to recognise the shooting as symptomatic of a wider problem.
Whenever a group is labelled as “other”, they can become isolated and eventually become targets, unsuspecting victims to the prejudices of those who do not reach out to understand. In light of this, it is concerning that one of the initial proposed motives, in spite of his father’s contradictions,* is radical Islam. Yet we must not let his lack of understanding provoke one of our own. This man does not represent Islam and any backlash onto those who follow this faith would be an insult to the victims of the shooting by reinforcing violent prejudice.
Ultimately, in response to Mateen’s idealistic violence we should offer our empathy to the victims and their families, and our understanding to other cultures, faiths, sexuality and race in order to prevent any further tragedy.