Omar Mateen was once a beautiful and innocent baby boy. He was not born to be a slaughterer. Was this terrorism? Yes, if by this we mean the terror that he suffered for desiring men when his father reviled homosexuality. The terror he suffered when his culture told him if he was gay he would be the shame of his entire family. More than terrorism, this was also Shame-ism. Omar’s self-hate was methodically taught to him.
Culture. Why do we give culture so much respect, in the name of tolerance?
And yes, it was terrorism if by this we mean the terror wrought upon us all by ‘freedom’ – when ‘freedom’ is the freedom to do business unrestrained. Someone still has the money Omar spent that day. Others will make more money from the fear that has been sown. The answer to the problem is more of the same problem, right?
Now comes the blame war. “It’s Islam!”. “It’s the NRA!”. “It’s the homophobes!”. In some measure, for sure it is all of those. A smoking gun is certainly in the hands of patriarchal culture of all stripes. And free-for-all capitalism? Its hands drip with blood, no question.
Today, I would like to say: “Je suis LGBTI!”. Problem is, in the deeper shadows of Self, I am also Islam. I am also Bigot. I am also Capitalism.
For the love of the families that were shattered that day in Orlando, for the unbearable horror and unfathomable loss that has hit them, maybe we can all breathe out a little more, extend our being-ness a little more widely. They are all our family. Omar Mateen however, is also our son. In some way we all gave permission for him to be brought up in crushing shame, and then to be enabled in his final act. And the system that sold him his weapon gloats, it goes unmolested. We each have a Voice and are responsible for both using it and not using it. From this day on, what can we each say differently, what can we think differently, how can we vote differently, to what will we give our money, our energy? And most importantly: what can we stop believing in? What can we stop accepting?
Beautiful thoughts Robin.
Your work has supported lots of people to be more conscious of violence, and less likely to pass it on. Keep doing it.
Gracias David! Count the ways you do the same.
What does it take to end the lineage of violence? That has been my devoted inquiry and the wisdom I cultivate. I believe there is nothing more important for us to do in this world right now then end traumatic recapitulation. And just as “a moment of silence” or “our thoughts and prayers go out to you” is now seen as an utterly insufficient response to the Orlando tragedy, so, I believe, is just thinking good thoughts or preaching to the choir an insufficient approach to ending the lineage of violence. If we want to steward the children of the future, and be wise stewards for the beautiful beings entrusted to our care, we must actively engage in appropriate and effective ways to end the lineage of violence personally and collectively. Otherwise there is no healthy earth; there is no future for humanity. I am proud of the Americans whose hearts and behaviors are shifting radically by the horror of what happened in Orlando. Those who have been sacrificed gave their lives so that we can wake up and deeply, from the core of our being, end traumatic repetition.
Stephanie, your charged words remind me of why I believe that childhood and politics are inseparable. Ending the lineage of violence requires us to stop beginning that lineage. First responsibility is in our hearts, then in our homes. Then in our public commons. But we are tasked with culture change, and that is political, that is a matter of policy, of song and narrative and symbol. Nature gave us a Voice. I suspect we are supposed to use it, and use it BIG. We each have a gift, and every gift can be a conduit for social-evolutionary message. So: the government is WE! With every syllable and every exhalation. Time to clean house!!!!!!!
Thanks, Robin, for this deeply insightful, moving, compassionate response to yet another egregious tragedy and for your call to the responsibility of each human in thought, word, and deed for reducing the violence, shaming, and conditioning that predispose to harm and suffering. You exemplify the courageous, at times terrifying, acknowledgment that “nothing human is alien to me.”
Mitch, I love that quote! “nothing human is alien to me”. Profound, simple and urgently true. Thank you for distilling.