Not simply….

Another day.  Another city.  Another targeted group.

And the discussion of why kicks into full gear before the bodies are even removed and identified.  When will we finally get it?  Like every other attack we’ve seen and every other horror, it’s ….

…not simply Islam.  Yes, he was Muslim.   But I’ve heard (and read) of Christian and Jewish and Buddhist hate-filled attacks against similar people. And the right-wing madman in Norway wasn’t Muslim, he was Christian. Yes, there are radicalized Muslims. And reactionary Christians. And extremist Jews.  But there millions of Muslims, Christians, and others who aren’t radicals and who just want to live their life.

….not simply homophobia.  Yes, it was a gay nightclub.  And for the madman there was apparently a particular reaction to homosexuality.  In the last couple of years, starting with the whole issue of Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn and trans-rights and bathroom wars there has been a greater awareness of gender politics, and a tremendous amount of hatred directed at it.  It has brought the whole sexual difference issue to the forefront of people who weren’t paying attention to it before.  Hate and violence crosses religious boundaries.  But it was a soft target, the kind that a cowardly lone wolf could attack; soft like a school or a company picnic or a temple.

…not simply guns.  Yes, a gun was used. It could have been fertilizer and a bomb.  It could have been a car into a crowd.  The weapon could have been any number of things. That a gun was used isn’t so much an issue as the type of gun, where the technology an automatic weapon makes the outcomes of events so much more horrific.

…not simply a terrorist event.  Yes, it was, a horrific one.  But we’ve seen them before and sadly we will see them again.  We need to discuss resiliency, to practice it. We need to pay attention, to engage with the world around us. We need to know ways out, ways to protect ourselves.  We can’t stop everything, but we as individuals need to take responsibility for looking out for ourselves. People die in nightclub fires because they can’t figure out where they are and how to get out.

….not simply hatred.  Yes, it is hatred. That has existed since time immemorial.  Look up Loeb-Leopold.  People have always hated.  But somehow we (and that’s not just the USA but the whole globe) have gotten the idea that violence is the solution, that uncompromising insistence on our personal views is somehow the only solution. Maybe it’s due to our internet connectivity, the ability to bring everything to us at all times.

When we seek the simple answer (religion, gender, weapon, opportunity) and the simple solution (control of any one thing) we shortchange everything, and lose the opportunity to discuss the complicated.  While Hercules could slice the Gordian Knot, no other tangled thread of events can be handled like that.

We need to realize that.  And start working on that.




2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by hmunro on June 14, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Beautifully said, Jeff. I’ve been worried for some time that in our rush to “understand” these events, we collectively slap a label on them — as if filing them under “terrorism” makes them somehow more comprehensible. But as you’ve pointed out, the root causes are often much more complicated. It’s too bad our public discourse doesn’t have much appetite right now for “nuanced” and “complex.”


  2. Posted by Zuberia on June 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this article! “Yes, there are radicalized Muslims. And reactionary Christians. And extremist Jews. But there millions of Muslims, Christians, and others who aren’t radicals and who just want to live their life.” I cannot agree with you more on this. Humans have found so many reasons to divide themselves into never ending groups on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender. But I feel there are only two groups Good and Bad. It is very unfair to stereotype and blame an entire group for a few bad persons’ actions. And like you said majority of us just want to live our lives! 🙂 I really hope more people will realize that there are good and bad people in every country, race, religion etc.


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