After Orlando Tragedy, It’s Time For Love And Unity, Not Hate And Division

The United States witnessed a terrible tragedy in Orlando during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12. In the hours that have passed since the Orlando shooting, social media has erupted with an outpouring of love for the victims, their families, the people of Orlando and the LGBT community. Unfortunately, social media has also erupted with expressions of outrage and hate. Today, I beg Americans to see the Orlando tragedy as a reason for love and unity, not hate and division.

Everyone remembers 9/11, but does everyone remember the feeling that pervaded the nation in the hours and days that followed that tragedy? I remember it clearly. As a country, we were united. We prayed together, and we mourned together. In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, we have failed to unite.

While millions of Americans have expressed their shock and dismay over the Orlando tragedy by expressing love, millions more have simply pointed fingers. Let’s blame the Muslims. Let’s blame the gun lobby. Let’s blame the gays. Let’s blame the FBI. Let’s blame Obama, Trump, Hillary and Bernie. And Bushes I and II and Osama bin Laden and Elvis.

Come on, America.

Because of the Orlando tragedy, we are attacking religion. Yes, The Telegraph reported less than an hour ago that the Orlando gunman had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a phone call prior to the shooting. Yes, ISIS is a group of extremists who claim their beliefs to be rooted in Islam. Yes, ISIS is a blight on the world. Yes, Muslims who are not extremists must fervently disavow ISIS and work to stop radical beliefs from permeating Muslim communities both in the United States and throughout world. However…

We have to remember that almost exactly a year before the Orlando tragedy, the Charleston church shooting happened. The gunman in that tragedy was a white Lutheran American whose motivation to kill nine African-Americans during a church service was white supremacy. The white supremacists are just as radical as the members of ISIS. The only difference is that they’re driven by a misguided idea of Christianity instead of a misguided idea of Islam.

After the Orlando tragedy, America’s Christians have a responsibility every bit as great as America’s Muslims. Christians who are not radicals must disavow white supremacy. Christians must work equally as hard to stop racism, to stop hatred and to stop dangerous fundamental beliefs from permeating their communities.

Because of the Orlando tragedy, we are simultaneously attacking the gun lobby and gun laws. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal on the battle over guns that has erupted since the Orlando tragedy, the shooter bought the assault rifle he used only days before the shooting. The article also noted that he was a security guard with a license to carry a sidearm. This information about the Orlando shooter has caused the gun control advocates to start screaming for tighter gun laws and pro-gun Americans to start screaming for more guns.

Look, people, the Orlando gunman had a gun already. He had jumped through the hoops to carry that gun, and he jumped through the hoops to buy his other gun. Even if he hadn’t had a gun or hadn’t been able to purchase an assault rifle legally, you can bet that he would have gotten the gun he wanted somewhere, somehow. Now, I’m not advocating for or against guns. I’m advocating for common sense. The Orlando shooter broke the law by shooting more than 100 people. Does anyone honestly think he would have thought twice before buying a gun illegally?

The whole point of the 500-plus words I have just written is that placing blame for the Orlando tragedy actually has no point. Squaring off against Muslims or guns on Facebook is not going to bring back the 50 innocent lives that were lost in that Orlando nightclub. Hillary Clinton is not going to save America by banning weapons. Donald Trump is not going to save America by banning immigrants. The only ones who can save America are the American people.

We have to stop hating. We have to stop arguing. We have to stop being so selfish.

Instead, we have to start thinking rationally. We have to start thinking about each other. We have to start having discussions in which the goal is not to yell louder than the other guy but to listen to what he or she has to say, to think about it and to figure out how to compromise.

We must unite as Americans, or the greatest democracy the world has ever known is going to crumble. Lincoln warned us in 1858 that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and he was right. Today, in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, I warn you again. Please, America, learn to love, stand together and don’t let Lincoln be right twice.

[Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images]