By Iresha; Mother, Lawyer, Community member
My daughter asked; “Why do some people hate other people so much that they would kill them?” It’s an important question but tough to answer.
In the tragedies of the Orlando nightclub shootings and the shooting and stabbing of the British Labour MP Jo Cox, mental health issues seem to have contributed to each assailant’s actions (the first confused about his sexuality, known by authorities for domestic violence and dabbling with terrorism propaganda; the second suffering mental health issues since childhood so debilitating he’d never worked, and dabbling with far right propaganda). They share an ease of access to weapons that kill, and a sense of belonging to hateful causes – strikingly on opposite sides of the ideological divide.
Portrayal of violence
Violence is nothing new but the difference now is the vivid portrayal experienced in real time on 24-hour TV news, radio and internet. We recognise the events occurring in Western communities as not being unlike Australia.
The hatred of self and others that leads anyone to find solace in extremism is hard to combat. Deaths because of extremism happen every day in the world, although sadly we don’t always identify with them in the same way because they are in societies we are not familiar with.
I hope for my daughter’s sake we learn from each of these tragedies. Love him or loathe him, no one can deny former Prime Minister John Howard’s powerful legacy in changing Australian gun laws since the devastation of the mass shooting in Port Arthur. I hope this time the US takes his lead to change their laws. The UK, as it grapples with its place in Europe, must remain a defender of free speech and thought without violence.
Bring people together
Tellingly, after these events, politicians who speak of bringing people together rather than dividing them seem more popular if polls are anything to judge.
And beyond this context, we shouldn’t forget that with these tragedies there are stories of bravery and good. Like the community members who tackled Ms Cox’s assailant and helped her until police and ambulance arrived. Like the security guard (yes a Muslim, although what has religion got to do with it?) who risked his life to force open the nightclub security doors so hundreds of patrons could flee the gunman, and the plane full of crew and passengers who comforted a grieving woman whose grandson died in Orlando. We should also remember that the Pulse night club patrons were, by just being there, celebrating their right to love equally, and that Jo Cox was helping her constituents on issues she was passionate about, when she died. The assailants only win if their actions stop these things. They can’t. The rights and the freedoms they attacked are worth standing up for. The courage to care for one another will not be stopped by acts of violence.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Tales to connect.