How Should We Respond to Tragedy?

Tragedies occur every day, but when a tragedy of the magnitude of that in Orlando befalls it strikes the heart of the entire nation.

Human dignity is an inherent quality, by the laws of God and the laws of man, every person’s life is of inconceivable value. There is no imaginable reason, no possible justification for the senseless slaughter that occurred.

This was an act of terrorism. The killing even a single person because of cultural disagreement is an unspeakable and terrible thing—have we made no progress? The human race has been fighting the same fruitless battles against each other for centuries. When will we learn that blood spilt only hinders our ability to bridge ideological differences?

The implications of this act of terror are numerous. What will it mean for the LGBT community? Gun rights activists? The fight against ISIS? Future political appointments?

In a scramble to seek the bigger picture we forget: Fifty people died. Putting those fifty people into a political narrative was exactly what their killer wanted.

The radical Islam Omar Mateen practiced was offended by the unique characteristics of a demographic of American people. But the United States is a place where individualism is valued. We are a community of unique people.

America is one of the few places in the world where people of all religions, political affiliations, races, sexual orientations, genders, and ages are expected to be treated equally.

Omar Mateen did not see these 50 people’s individuality, personal choice, or identity as respectable so he didn’t believe they were allowable.

As Stephen Perkins said, “It’s a scary time to be a free American. Some people are so jelly.”

The ideology Mateen practiced is un-American, anti-religious, and inhumane.

We recognize that radical Islam is no more a representation of Islam as a whole than the Westboro Baptist Church, who applauded the shooting, is a representation of Christianity—after all, the Quran says to “show forgiveness, speak for justice (7:199)” and that “Allah loves the doers of good (3:134)” just as the Bible teaches us to “let all we do be done with love (1 Cor 16:14)” and to “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col 3:12).”

The global community, across religious, racial, cultural, and political lines must come together to work towards an end to this violence. We have made the pretense of progress but Sunday morning’s attack in Orlando exposed the hatred and bigotry that is still prevalent in the world. It is an evil that must spur us to rededicate ourselves to fostering a true spirit of unity and reconciliation, and to renew our efforts to fight hatred and terrorism throughout the world.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said:

How do we respond before such hate? At minimum, all [Christians] must raise our voices against such hatred. There can be no place in our midst for hatred and bigotry against our brothers and sisters for anyone who is marginalized by the larger society. The Lord Jesus extended his arms on the Cross to embrace all people who respond to His offer of salvation. Who are we to close our hearts to anyone for whom the Lord has offered an invitation to experience His saving life? As a society and a Church, we must do whatever we can to fight all hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms.

As we pray for those who died in Orlando, let us pray that we might have the courage to fight against all bigotry and prejudice wherever we may experience it.

Is not love and justice a more effective tool to heal and remember than politics?