There was no verbal response. I simple shook my head back-and-forth in shock and sorrow as the details were unfolding about the shooting at the Orlando nightclub. It is the same response I had upon hearing of the Sandy Hook shooting deaths of the twenty 6 and 7-year-old children.
This time, fifty dead, fifty-three injured. This time, at a gay club in Florida. This time, the heavily armed terrorist killed more people than anyone else in a domestic shooting. This time, the same political rhetoric about gun control and terrorism as every other time. This time, the same kind of heartbreaking stories about each of the victims and their families. This time the eerie tale of ringing cell phones belonging to the dead whose bodies lay all over the club floor.
There is so much said and written in the immediate aftermath of these horrors, that I usually don’t even feel like joining the chorus anymore. But, these words are in my mind, and I must get them out The words?
“Don’t become like them.”
Sadly, the more we are hurt by our enemies, the more we tend to become like them. It reminds me of a line in a U2 song, “Peace On Earth.” “You become the monster, so the monster will not break you.”
Here are some of the ways in which we must not become like our enemies.
Grouping people together who don’t belong together. All Muslims are not terrorists anymore than all Christians are members of the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, too many Muslins are violent extremists. They either represent an extreme wing of the religion, or they are hijacking it for their own political or personal purposes. Just be careful about who gets lumped in with “they” or “them.”
Hating. We can hate and combat the evil acts of misguided people without being consumed by hate because when that happens we become the prisoner of our own hate.
Turning to violence. Yes, our battle against terror involves violence. It is a real war that must be fought for our own protection and for that of many people in other countries who being are enslaved and killed by ISIS and other terrorists. But there is a difference between a thought-out government response and supporting or being involved in the any type of terror that bears any resemblance to what they have subjected us to.
Becoming intolerant. It’s a totally normal thing to do. We don’t like people who are different than us. We don’t like to be moved out of our comfort zone. It easy to become intolerant of someone who speaks and dresses different than us. If they do something we don’t like, we get ticked off because their culture is different than ours. But what if we were the minority? What if we were the immigrant? And just about everybody in this country is an immigrant.
I am more concerned about our enemies being allowed to destroy our soul than our way of life.
Image credit: BK. Creative Commons.