We had another episode of senseless gun violence in Colorado last Saturday night. Colorado is already known for many mass shootings – Columbine High School, Aurora Theater, Boulder grocery store, Colorado Springs mobile home park, and others. The most recent attack targeted an LGBTQIA+ club. We don’t know much about the shooter, yet, but we know that the LGBTQIA+ community suffers a great deal of hate and bigotry.
Violence, hatred and intolerance are so rampant in America that they have become normalized. We have far more violence and more guns per person than any other nation on earth. While world-wide violence may have decreased during the last few hundred years, violence in America is still far too prevalent. To reduce this, we must look at root causes and not just at direct contributors, such as the prevalence and glorification of guns.
The hatred and bigotry toward LGBTQIA+ people has been created, perpetuated, nurtured, and even advocated by religion. In America, that religion is mostly Christianity. For more than two thousand years, innumerable people have been victimized by being considered sinful, thus justifying abuse, ostracism, punishment, torture, and murder. It is ridiculous to let ancient tribal beliefs define homosexuality as an “abomination” when they knew almost nothing about sexuality. They didn’t know that conception involved an egg from a woman, and they thought mental illness was demon possession, clay made with spittle would cure blindness, and menstruation makes a woman unclean.
Many religious beliefs are illogical and irrational. For example, the dogma that all humans are born sinful because of something a mythical person did thousands of years ago that offended a deity is emotional abuse, especially for children. And the hatred and discrimination toward Jews makes no sense considering that Christianity started as a small offshoot of Judaism and that Jesus and all his disciples were Jewish, according to Christian sacred text. Voltaire is quoted as saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And Steven Weinberg said, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.”
Many religious people do good things, and tragedies elicit helpful and loving behavior from many people in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. However, we must make radical changes in some of our core beliefs and principles to create a more peaceful, accepting, compassionate world.
When you hear hateful rhetoric, no matter its source, speak up. Oppose ideas that claim people are bad and deserve to be eliminated just because they are different. Oppose ideas that want to replace democracy with theocracy. One of the most dangerous movements in the US right now is Christian Nationalism. Our US government is not Christian and our Constitution is completely secular.
Heterosexuality, homosexuality and all sexual and gender variations should be considered normal. Learn about the complexity of sexual and gender development. Speak up to counter misinformation, ignorance and bigotry. Speak up to counter hatred and violence. Speak up to counter any laws or policies that allow discrimination against minority groups. Mass violence does not begin with the purchase of a gun. It begins with ignorant ideas, beliefs and rhetoric, irrational thinking, and groundless fear and hatred.
One thought on “Another Violent Tragedy AND a “Normal” Day in America”
Excellent Bob. Well written.
We can all do better.