In Orlando, a reminder of how far hate would go

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

On Sunday, the 12th of June 2016, the American population and the rest of the world were awakened by a humongous nightmare.

People from coast to coast were alerted by another apparent act of terrorism, dubbed as the “deadliest mass killing” in the history of the United States.

While mankind was awaiting a Sunday, the usual time when Faith beckons from all creeds, there was marked confusion gleaned from all media possible: television; cell phones; laptops. Yes, deadly news had arrived on the city of Orlando, Florida.

Here are the telling statistics that befell Orlando, site of Disney World: 49 killed; 53 wounded; records still need verification.

But to those who did not wish to leave the means that communicated the ‘deadliest,’ there was sorrow and the desire to know how far hate would go.

Indeed, it is and was that clear. What took place recently was an act of domestic terrorism.

That very act took place where nobody expected it: a man fortified with a gun held in his hands, as described by law enforcement agents. They surmised there was untold hatred in the gunman’s hands, apparently consumed by rage against members of the LGBT population.

Most likely, according to psychological and sociological analysts, the killer was moved to do what he decided to do, against the openness and diversity that have always defined the American way of life.

The horror will never, never fade away. Murder of innocent people is always heartbreaking. It tears at hearts that have already been broken before and hardly have even felt a sense of healing. Wherever we are on these country’s shores, such inhuman occurrences break our hearts.

How about our feeling of security?

What strikes maximum anger on the rest of the population whose families are shaken up by the inhumanity of it all?

Like this story tried to tell, Sunday is a day meant for prayer. Prayers will continue for everyone who had to give up without knowing death was theirs; for the wounded, they will need more than physical healing; and numbers that are deemed missing are still being sought.

What presents itself to America’s population is weapon control. Decisive action is a must, now or never. Weapons of war should be ruled by law. All such combat acts of terror must be off the streets.

What matters: to affirm the rights of LGBT Americans, and all Americans that they must feel welcome. Their safety matters.

Yes, America owes those who didn’t make it to another day, constant prayers. Memories. Their families, those they left behind, need the immense and intense help of the law.

Weapons should be kept off our streets. This call should be reiterated.

When I first landed on these shores in the very early sixties, the first passages I learned to commit to memory was: The Pledge. I took the examinations needed to meet the requirements for a Secondary English teacher. The Pledge was part of what was handed out to me when I first reported to the educational institution that I found close to my residence. I told myself: I now belong to a big-hearted, fair-minded country. I will be part of a process that will teach high school students that this is one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all – not just for people who have certain features, but for all law-abiding citizens who seek justice and freedom.

We hear from our leaders how we must abide by the fundamentally American principle – that we’re stronger together: that we will stand together in what it means to be American. Not only in word. But in deed. And in devoted action. To adhere to the law. And above all, to put into practice whatever is required, willingly and voluntarily.

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