Monday, June 13, 2016

An Epidemic of Hatred

"Olive Branches"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

Over the course of history various epidemics and plagues like the Black Death, Yellow Fever, or Smallpox have decimated large portions of the human population across the globe. Yesterday while listening to the ongoing news coverage about the shooting in the nightclub in Orlando Florida, it came to me that an epidemic of hatred seems to have infected almost every corner of the planet, and it has the potential to, once and for all, eliminate the human species.

The event yesterday in which 50 people were murdered and 53 others sent to a hospital in the worst mass shooting in American history was an almost perfect icon of the kind of unhinged hatred and violence that is so rampant everywhere in these troubled times. The so-called “lone wolf” gunman was supposedly “inspired” by ISIS, a world-wide hate organization that spews its toxic teaching under the guise of Islam. Then, after yesterday’s shooting, many Americans renewed their hatred of all Muslims as people like Donald Trump and his ilk stoked the fires of vengeance by once again suggesting that we cleanse the country of our Muslim population. 

Besides being called a “terrorist incident,” yesterday’s mass shooting was also labelled as a “hate crime.” Filled with expressed hatred for LGBT people, in an odious act of unmitigated violence the shooter deliberately attacked a “Gay” nightclub. Once again the response of some people to this hate crime was also laden with hatred as some people expressed a belief that Gay people are an “abomination to God,” and so they got what they deserved.

And then on top of all this, even though he was a suspected terrorist under investigation by the FBI, this shooter was able to go out and, no questions asked, was able to purchase a military-style assault weapon to carry out his murderous deed. It was the same type of weapon used by other gunmen to kill children in our schools and murder college students on their way to class in a whole series of violent mass shootings that have afflicted this country over the past few years. And yet, even in light of all this, gun advocates continued to insist that there should be no control over the kinds of weapons citizens may purchase, including military assault rifles.

As I thought about all the symptoms of raw hatred so blatantly manifested in yesterday’s shooting, I remembered something the Dali Lama wrote a while back:

There is now a reasonable substantial body of scientific evidence
to suggest that unselfishness and concern for others
is innate to our biological nature.
Interdependence is a key feature of human reality.
As human beings we can survive and thrive only in
an environment of concern, affection and warm-heartedness,
or in a single word, compassion.

Over the course of time, when epidemics and plagues have threatened the human race, people have always united together to find a saving cure; and yet most people everywhere remain relatively silent as the epidemic of hatred infects us and threatens to literally destroy our species.

Dr. King once said:

In this generation we will have to repent
not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people
but for the appalling silence of the good people.

Over and over again yesterday I saw postings urging people to “Pray for Orlando.” I honestly think that we all must do far more than say a few prayers. It is time for people of goodwill everywhere, in every corner of the globe, to end the appalling silence and work toward a cure for the devastating epidemic of hatred.

Our survival depends upon it.

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