After a gunman shot at the back of my head from a few feet away and, amazingly, missed, I thought a lot about what would have happened if I’d been killed. I never imagined that people would skip past the tragedy of my death to debate the shooter’s motives and access to guns.
What about my wonderful relationship with my daughter? My promising academic career? My passion for music, sports, and knowledge? My heart-busting love of humanity and desire to make others’ lives better?
Now, through too many examples, I know that most people who didn’t know me would have jumped straight to hating the shooter. Maybe, full of compassion, they would want to understand the painful life that led him to try to kill me. In fact, a few people who knew about my ordeal sought me out to discuss such fascinating issues as the type of gun used and the damage it might have done to my skull.
In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, the pundits, political actors, and Facebookers who sprinted to stake out a position regarding Islam, weapons, or presidential politics, without keeping the actual tragedy in sight, leave me cold at best. Is your opinion regarding gun control or radical Islamic ideologies really the first thing you want to say? Where is the love?
I applaud those who start from the tragic loss of beautiful lives and the terror lived by the survivors and then work out to the sociopolitical issues around such attacks. I hear that Anderson Cooper has done so. Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising provides a great example of this humane approach for 9/11. And this photo album on Facebook moved me.
I suspect that this is what you would want, if you were a victim.