It was a senseless tragedy, but as Churchill famously said: “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
A troubled young man did what he did and nothing can change that. But we can, and should, ask, “Why”.
It’s too easy to dismiss everything as a terrorist act; as the actions of a man solely motivated by his corrupted sense of Jihad.
It would be as wrong to go to the next step and blame Islam for the ranting of a few ignorant clerics as it would to say that the beliefs of Christian extremists are an accurate reflection of the teaching of Jesus.
All homophobic religious bigots hide behind the belief that it is nurture rather than nature that makes homosexuals. They admit that, were homosexuality found to be genetic, homosexuals would be part of God’s creation and hence, since He cannot err, be as He made them.
While some might still assert that acting on what would then be their natural impulses would be sinful, they would be hard put to explain the concept that God gives some an additional burden to bear. Indeed the early Christian Church embraced homosexuals. It had liturgies to celibate their marriages and numbers among the saints some who were believed, during their lifetimes, to be homosexual
The gunman’s motivations may have been deep-seated and complex. It is being asserted that, while he pledged allegiance to Isis, his primary demons may well have been a conflict between the religious beliefs, as they had been interpreted to him, and his sexual impulses.
If this proves correct, Orlando must be viewed as another example of a hate crime. In Australia at least, I believe that the law would require police to investigate and prosecute any who could be proved to have, by their teaching, incited the young man to act as he did.
Too often, it is convenient to appease ourselves with some sacrificial lamb and so to ignore and fail to bring to account the true cause of the problem. Will that, again, prove to be the case?
Orlando is newsworthy because of the scale of the loss of life. However, in the context outlined, it highlights an ongoing tragedy that is occurring daily to individuals and families around the globe, from Adelaide to London, from Beirut to Beijing.
For all of those cities are home to men and women of all ages who are torn between the call of their nature and laws/teaching/culture which can make them feel unworthy, sinful or freaks.
Unable to understand, many commit suicide. Some resolve the problem by forcing themselves to choose one path or the other. However, for others, it can create a vortex of carnage affecting themselves and their partners and families.
So, while we mourn the 50 killed in Orlando, spare a thought for the tens of thousands of invisible victims which homophobia has created.
Years ago, Dr George Duncan was drowned in the Torrens because of homophobic prejudice. At that time, legislators were battling to introduce reform in the face of united opposition from Christian churches. However, Dr Duncan’s death forced a reassessment. Most churches then argued that decriminalisation was a state issue and they (with the exception of the more radical segments) withdrew from the debate.
We can only hope that Orlando provides the same opportunity for those who pedal homophobia to consider the consequences of their bigotry. It might be justifiable to attempt to save others in peril, whether that peril is real or imagined. But when such motivation leads to carnage, Orlando becomes to homosexuals what Auschwitz was to the Jews.
In the community, the proselytising bigots are the most sophisticated of assassins: their work is just as deadly but rarely seen.
Let us not forget that, in ancient Egypt, there was a belief that, on death, the soul was weighted against the Feather of Truth and, if found wanting, it was discarded. Christians and Muslims believe they must account for their actions.
I remain hopeful that there is a place in the hereafter for all who, regardless of gender attraction, genuinely love one another, and no space for the bigots and false prophets whose voices result in an Orlando