June 13, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

The terrible news that a gunman walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and destroyed 50 people, leaving 53 others hospitalized in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history has to bring national tears and renewed debate on selling automatic weapons so freely that sick minds can become executioners.
Whether that happens is as uncertain as the outcome of this presidential election in which so far basic civics history seems lost to the ages, and so few know our Founders’ actions and desires — how did we get here? What does the nation stand for?
It is certainly not intolerance of people based on sexual orientation. If we do try to learn and understand our history and the great journey this democracy-in-training embarked upon almost 240 years ago, we can see that we have come so very far. While it  will never be far enough for crazed, sick gunmen,  it can be more than far enough for national empathy and increased tolerance. Fifty people dead, and that means 50 funerals, hundreds of relatives and friends in lifelong mourning, cheated of friendship, companionship, love. The nation, the world without 50 achieving souls. And such a very deep wound to the national body. What shame we have.
Yet we have progressed against intolerance, however unsteady the footing may be in this election where jingoism, platitudes, sentences without depth, irrationality all fuel the fires of prejudice. How many more Orlandos can be born of this?
Or does this democracy-in-training, this national body of advancing humanity turn the tide? Can we pull the trigger against the bullies in the darkened alleys?

   The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via ahgunther@hotmail.com This essay may be reproduced.