Tag Archives: orlando

The Sun Still Rises; There Are Still Rainbows


*Takes a deep breath*

*Lets it out*

*Takes another one, just for good measure*

Okay. It’s going to be okay.

I was wound up like a demonic clockwork drummer boy when I posted a few days ago. I’m not going to apologize for it, but I am going to temper it a little bit. Because we’ve just had one of those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days that your mother warned you about. Much worse than that, in fact.

A nightclub was shot up, and people were killed. Too many people, to be sure (though to be fair, any more than zero is too many). That’s a lot of funerals. A lot of mourning family and friends. A lot of very upset sympathizers.

And the internet devolved, as the internet does, into the usual black-and-white, allows-for-no-nuance trench warfare of ad hominems and righteous principled generalizations and laments for humanity and all the rest of it. And I was guilty of my share of it.

But every day is a chance to start anew, and you can change your entire experience if you just change the way you think a little bit.

I woke up early. I went for a run. I watched the kids play on the beach.

I came back to the news to see that while, yeah, all that black-and-white yelling-and-not-listening crap was going on, there was some good springing up between the cracks in the pavement, too. Lines around the block to donate blood. Millions of dollars raised for the families of the victims. The sun, in fact, still rises.

There’s a pattern around crises like these: outrage, arguing, acceptance, then indifference. One wonders when the cycle will break, as surely it must. The outrage over this incident seems particularly high. Maybe this time will be the time that actually brings about some change.

Or maybe not.

My local newspaper posted a picture of a rainbow sighted over Pulse in Orlando yesterday. Of course, a lot of people were quick to assume meaning where there is none: It’s a sign that everything’s going to be all right! God is good! After rain come rainbows! And if that brings comfort to them, that’s great.

Of course, a rainbow is simply an artifact of light refraction and perspective. That it appeared over Pulse is a symbol of nothing other than the fact that nature continues to operate just fine, regardless of human actions. And that’s the meaning I’d rather take away.

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There will always be tragedies. We might learn from them; we might not. There will still be rainbows. The sun will still rise.

 

 


God, Not More Preaching


I turn on the news this morning, and I’m horrified. Over 100 casualties in a club in Orlando. And I check the news again later in the day (why? why? Because the initial horror wasn’t enough?) to see that they caught another guy on the verge of the next horrible thing, not 24 hours later.

And I feel a nagging at the back of my brain; and I think to myself that while I was writing about rape a few days ago, I wasn’t just thinking about rape, I was thinking about the world we live in. About how we are shaping the world we live in.  I’m not going to toot my own horn here, nor am I going to offer platitudes or outrage or rushes to judgment or anything like that. The internet is full of such things, and I don’t need to bathe myself in those muddy waters.

Still, not three days ago, I wrote this:

And deal with it we must. There’s something broken in our culture, and by extension, in ourselves. It’s so easy for the rapist’s father to say “this is not the son I raised; he made a mistake.”

Substitute “shooter” for “rapist” and you have not only the events of last night in Orlando, but you have the events of … jesus. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. And so forth.

 

Something is amiss in our society. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And until we have the courage to face up to it and do something about it, nothing will change.

For that matter, I was reading some Dr. Seuss to my son the other day. That’s right, Dr. The-Cat-in-the-Hat Seuss. To be specific, we were reading The Lorax, because he likes all the bright colors in that book, if not perhaps the heavy-handed environmental message of it. In that story, toward the end, there’s a rather prescient sentiment:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Apply that little nugget to whatever issue you like. But goddammit, all this shit is related. Rape. Mass shootings. Terrorism. General dickishness to your fellow man. And usually I censor myself on the blarg here, but fuck all, there are times when you observe societal niceties and there are times when you let the niceties fall by the wayside.

A hundred people are dead or injured today, here, in the United States of America, because of hatred, pure and simple. Who knows how many more might be next to them if not for the efforts of California police interrupting the man with a car full of assault weapons?

A hundred more sons and daughters. A hundred more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, aunts, uncles; a hundred more people. Who cares if they were LGBT or otherwise, who cares what you think about LGBT individuals for that matter? A hundred people are DEAD.

John Scalzi puts it rather well here, probably rather a lot better than I do. But the fact is, when things like this happen, people wallow in despair for a few days, they say the magic words, and they move on with their lives. But in this country, at least, you have one tiny bit of power. One tiny little ounce of leverage. One seedling of an unlikely tree sitting in your pocket, to hearken back to Dr. Seuss.

That leverage isn’t your thoughts and prayers, as Scalzi points out. Nobody gives a shit what you think in your own private Idaho. Nobody gives a shit what you pray about.

But the people who make the laws sure as hell give a shit how you vote.

In the days to come, the overbearing attack dogs of both sides will be unleashed on our collective consciousness. “It’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental illness issue.” “Nobody needs guns like the ones used in these crimes.” And everything in between.

Guns are not going anywhere. And I don’t in any way advocate legislature that would prevent any American from owning a reasonable weapon for the protection of his or her family.

But assault weapons are not that. And attacks like this would not happen without weapons like that. You can’t kill 50 and wound 53 with a knife, or even with a pistol, before somebody takes you down. And it is the staunch, unblinking adherence to “2nd amendment rights” that continues to make it possible for the wrong people to get their hands on guns more easily.

Would more gun laws eradicate gun violence entirely? Of course not. Lawbreakers, as they say, are not going to be deterred just because there’s a law in place.

But by that rationale, why do we have speeding laws? Or anti-theft laws? Or anti-drug laws? Or or or …

As has been said many times around this blog and many others, the perfect is the enemy of the good. And gun rights advocates will argue til they’re blue in the face that criminals will still get guns. And maybe they’re right.

But just because there is no perfect solution doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Dammit. I’m supposed to be on vacation.

 


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