Friday, July 29, 2016

We are all responsible

The headlines and images, still fresh, show the massacre that occurred recently in the city of Orlando, Florida, here in the United States.

It was, without a doubt, a hate crime and a terrorist act. And among the thousand voices, opinions, speculations and assessments that have been made about the macabre event, I have been left thinking of a sentence from Oscar Arnulfo Romero, which - it seems to me - applies well to our current situation: "In our society, we all live as if no one is to blame, but the truth is that we are all responsible."

This is not the first time that our North American society has been shaken by an event like the massacre in Orlando, because it is not the first time in this society that a person with grave mental instability can easily access high-impact weapons that cause so much fear, so much pain, and so many regrets.    

Nor is this the first time that voices have been raised in our society both for and against gun control. But the effervescence of these debates fades like foam as the headlines for each new massacre fade, as we wait in fear of the next massacre. … And so we are growing accustomed to this reality; our hearts and memory are growing tougher, hardening. And, as the lyrics of the song go: "In the end, life goes on."

The occurrence of these acts of terrorism and massacres among us is very serious. These are cases in which the government of this nation has to examine its moral responsibility in the continued occurrences of these heinous acts such as the one that occurred in Orlando, and the ease with which anyone can, with the current legal, regular and daily access to purchase a weapon, produce such nefarious events in our society. 

The massacre in Orlando reminds us, unfortunately for the umpteenth time, that events like these require political volition in the legislation specific to the use of weapons, and, on the other hand, to achieve, equalize and balance human, moral, and spiritual growth in our society with economic and material progress, advances, and growth.
We work, we all strive for the progress and the strength, both material and economic, of this nation. We feel pride in being able to say that we all live in the most developed country, materially, in the world. But, this development and progress must correspond, simultaneously and in every situation, to development and progress humanitarianly and spiritually as well, so that we can proclaim to the world, with pride, that we also live in the earth’s most civilized nation.

The massacre in Orlando leaves much to be desired and much to ponder and question. It would seem that we have not overcome the shoot-outs we saw during the conquest of the Old West in the US. It would seem that the democratic system of which we boast and for which we are viewed as the world’s sitting expert, has serious cracks when you consider the ideals of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

The Orlando massacre hurt its direct victims, and grieves us when we see the pain of the families of those who fell there, but it hurts, also and above all, because it confronts us with our real truths and some fundamental issues in American society: How much progress in coexistence have we achieved? How easily have we managed to tolerate, in our daily life, those who do not share our skin color, religious beliefs, political ideology, our historical and cultural history, our sexual preferences or identities, our economic situation, etc.? With how much hatred do we live in the presence of the differences of others?

Positively resolving these questions will allow us to live together, permanently, in a society that is large, prosperous, and more democratic, fairer, more humane and humanizing, more caring, more just, more livable, and more friendly -- with more hope for the future for the generations that follow us.

Leaving these fundamental issues unsolved will leave us vulnerable to face, every so often, the same painful headlines, the same tears, the same regrets and – worse still -- to continue in a coexistence full of anxieties, suspicions, prejudices, fears. ...

In either case, with our lives, with our deeds and words, with our attitudes and daily behaviors, with our anonymous works, be they small and basic or colorful and transcendental, we are all responsible for our personal and family stories as well as for our present and future as a society and nation.