What is the true illness affecting American society?
By Daliah Husu
Violence built American society and has presided over us for as long as our country has existed. The settlers who first colonized this nation traveled across the Atlantic to escape religious persecution and certain death in their homelands. They landed on the American shores, uncertain of what challenges lay ahead of them. Ill-prepared, hungry, and cold, they faced a bitter winter that almost wiped them out, but their spirit and determination to survive remained unbroken and they persevered regardless of the odds stacked up against them.
Today, our society supposedly thrives as one of the “greatest nations” of the world, yet our actions tell a much different and appalling story of who we really are. America, as I grew up believing, was a nation of possibilities and freedom, privileges and rights that could not be found anywhere else in the world. As a Dominican immigrant and as a transgender woman, America symbolized a utopia where I could live safely as my true self within my community. Yet, today I have a much different view of my beloved America, which I now define as barbaric, chaotic, and vastly ignorant. The nation that I once believed would lead the world in the human rights movement has instead fallen into the shadows of leading nations like Netherlands, Canada, and Norway.
The June 12th, 2016 massacre of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, FL, is one more grotesque example of how ill our society and our world truly is. We live in a nation where citizens are still losing their lives at the hands of political and religious extremists, just for exercising their basic freedoms and being who they are. In light of this heinous act that has now shattered hundreds of lives and possibly impacted millions, our Federal government continues to enable murder and other unspeakable acts of violence by adhering to its lax gun control laws and by allowing states to discriminate against their own citizens. Clearly, Justice is not, and has never been, the law of the land. So what is the true “law of the land” as of this moment in time?
It appears to be hatred, violence, and political/religious extremism.
Ironically, the same men and women who claim to be doing God’s work and who claim to be working towards a greater America and a better world, are the ones who instigate the violence that is currently terrorizing our cities and our towns. The self-proclaimed “righteous” and the right wingers—which in my view are a lethal combination—are the dreadful weeds in our Garden of Eden. This nation, and the world, have a long way to go—and sadly many more lives to lose—before any real changes take place.
At this very moment, the LGBT community mourns those who were savagely murdered and taken from us in Orlando. We also send our sympathies to the families and friends that lost their loved ones in this tragedy. But our sympathies and prayers alone will not change what has taken place, nor will they bring back the dead or bring forth the change that is so desperately needed in this nation. So what can we do to better our communities and to make them safer?
Start by voicing out your concerns, feelings, and opinions. Most of us aren’t lobbyists or activists, but we are concerned citizens. Write an email or letter to your mayor, governor, or state representative and let them know what your concerns are. These people are accessible and easily reached through local and state government websites. It may sound futile, but sooner or later our voices will be heard if we can gather ourselves in large numbers.
Stay abreast of local, regional, and national news that impacts you and the LGBT community directly. Current events and the current state of affairs for the LGBT community is something all of us need to be aware of. Simply dismissing political and social issues will never bring about change for us as a community. It’s imperative to dismiss the “I don’t get into politics” attitude that many of us have adopted and continue to carry in our lives. The reality and the truth is that we are all influenced by the socio-political climate and there is no escaping that. So why hide our faces and allow the intolerant, the hateful, and the narrow-minded to make decisions for us? Why allow those same individuals access to firearms or other weapons that are then used to kill the innocent? The only word to accurately describe how our society runs is “Madness!”
It’s time to be proactive about our futures, the future of our communities, and the future of our country. But we cannot do it by only sending prayers to the affected families of the Orlando mass shooting, nor by lighting candles for the dead.
Prayers dissipate in the wind and candles only burn until they have completely melted.