Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Just One Man

“This is an attack on our people. An attack on Orlando. An attack on Florida. An attack on America. An attack on all of us.” – Florida Governor Rick Scott

This is not about the power of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. If you want to own a gun, own a gun. If you don’t want to, don’t. That is your right; it is your life.

This is not about the First and the Fourteenth Amendments; if you want to be a Christian, be a Christian. Or if you want to be a Muslim, be a Muslim. Be a Jew. Be a Buddhist. Be an Atheist. Be anything you want. You have that religious freedom. It is your life.

Do you see? It is your life. Yours. I cannot and will not tell you how to live it. Do with your life what you want to do, but do not tell me what to do with mine.

When I read the story about the shooting in Orlando, I was overwhelmed. So much death. So many wounded. People with families, friends. People who felt joy, and laughter, and sorrow. People who knew what it was to dread Mondays and long for Fridays. It doesn’t matter that Pulse is an LGBTQ+ bar. They were just people. And in the slim hours when Saturday night mysteriously changes to Sunday morning, one man decided to change the course of Pulse’s history forever.

One man.

Again, this has nothing to do with the First, Second, or Fourteenth Amendments. This has to do with a single person. You see, presidential candidates will use this event, as deplorable as that is, to further their campaigns. That means spin-doctors will come in and instead of saying one man caused this problem, suddenly it becomes a huge matter of politics and policy. But it isn’t.

This was the act of one man.

One man who twisted his own mind. One man who visited the night club a number of times to feel it out, get the layout, learn the rooms, and know where people would hide. One man who posted a profile on a gay dating app to take the measure of the “gay temperament”.  One man who preferred to drink alone and not engage in the “Pulse” around him (so to speak), unless he was intoxicated, in which case he became loud and unmanageable.

We can sit back and judge all we want. We can be desperate for a group to blame, to find a scapegoat, to find some way that this couldn’t have happened. At our safe distance, it is simple to rewind history and say, “Well, it never would have happened if...”. But how many generations of people will be blamed before they get to this one man?

Because it was just one man.

One man was the boogeyman in Orlando. It wasn’t because of a religion. It wasn’t because of guns. It was because of him. It was because he chose to pull that trigger over and over and over. It was because he selected that nightclub in advance. It was because he could not allow others to live their own lives, as he was allowed to live his, that he murdered 49 people and wounded countless more. I will not write his name, though I do pray his soul finds peace. The 49 deserve to be remembered not as martyrs, but because they could easily be you, because someone, somewhere, could simply decide he doesn’t approve of some facet of your life and will kill over it. You may be caught in the crossfire. Remember them. Even if just this once. Say their names. Because you would want to be remembered, too.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Cory James Connell, 21
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Brenda Lee Marquez McColl, 49
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Kimberly Morris, 37
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

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