Who doesn’t wonder, “Does my life make a difference?” Everyone wants to leave a mark on the world. I imagine that the young man who walked into a gay bar and began shooting had cultivated a mental attitude of hatred toward himself and those with different sexual preferences. In a perverted way, he may have wanted to make a difference. Maybe he yearned to be noticed.
The young man who participated a year ago in a prayer group before slaughtering group members conceivably persuaded himself that all Blacks represented evil. Perhaps he felt heroic. He may have imagined that like-minded associates would proclaim him as a courageous warrior.
What causes such an intense internal demand for a moment in the spotlight? What creates such a deficit of values that bloodshed becomes justified?
Globally, ISIL solicits new members through hate-engorged, deceptive propaganda. A disenchanted young person, yearning for attention and importance becomes a vulnerable target for ISIL’s messages.
Sometimes, our own clergy contributes to deranged decisions. Following the Orlando shootings, Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento stated, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job.” What turmoil this message must create for any confused and struggling young person.
Society’s general level of disrespect impacts young people more than usually realized. I believe that all of us contribute negatively with every hateful word we think, and every judgmental rejection we contemplate. Thoughts, like prayers, generate results.
At a time when we recognize that our nation has many individuals who harbor chilling intentions, we must all assume a share of the blame. I affirm that we can alter this situation.
A message of hope can replace ISIL’s propaganda.
Caring individuals can rebuke religious messages that clash with love.
Finally, each one of us can scrutinize and even revise our own worst thoughts.
With self-examination, courageous words, and positive, actions, we can initiate modest efforts toward preventing disturbed young people from destroying themselves and others. Whether victim or perpetrator, each one leaves a mark. Unrelenting hate does not offer any solution at all.