Last Sunday was different in America.
I woke up late to a thundering rainstorm. That wasn’t what made it different. Inclement weather is a daily occurrence here in the Florida summertime, raindrops falling quasi-symbolically to cool us from the unbearable heat.
No, something else that day was just… different.
As I walked around somewhat aimlessly in the rain, I couldn’t help but be affected by the news that shook us the night before, a tragedy that struck less than one hundred miles away from my very home, in my old home town, a place where people come from around the world to vacation and get away from it all.
A senseless act of violence had taken the lives of fifty people and injured fifty more, just like that.
It was a somber day for sure with details emerging all day long about a young and clearly confused man who failed to respect humanity decided take matters into his own hands.
In light of the news, it became difficult for even the most positive among us not to question what kind of world we live in and what exactly the fuck is going on.
The day before, I had just watched countless, diverse religious leaders, stars and politicians speak uplifting messages of hope at the wake of Muhammad Ali. All those words got lost in the shuffle just one day later.
It was hard to focus on hockey, basketball or any of the other things we talk about on this website. They all felt wholly irrelevant.
I continued to walk around in the rain. I gave money to a homeless man who graciously thanked me as he tried his best to stay dry. He said he hated it out there. I can’t say I blame him.
It was a very somber day.
Everyone used social media to spread messages of love and sorrow. Candlelight vigils and blood drives were held across town, if not the country.
Later that night, I started watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Jackie Robinson to take my mind off things. I couldn’t help but think about how far we’ve come since his time… and how far we haven’t.
In an election year, politicians jockeying for our favor blathered about the state of our nation and how to address terrorism both domestic and abroad, with very little progress.
As an idealist, it’s becoming harder not to be cynical. As one who runs a website, it’s hard to write about matters I try to avoid discussing but sometimes, it’s hard not to. Anything you put down on paper sounds simultaneously meaningful and trivial in the wake of what happened.
The nightclub where fifty people were shot dead and another fifty were injured could have been any nightclub. It could have been any bar. I could have been there. I could have worked there. So could any one of my friends and loved ones.
So what now?
One of stepfather of SportsChump’s many careers included working as attorney for the ACLU. He’s a good liberal like his stepson.
One of the issues that came under his watch was the proliferation of video cameras in public places. The subject came about because the 2012 National Republican Convention was being held in Tampa. Proponents of adding cameras felt they would deter the likelihood of incidents. Opponents, like the ACLU, felt additional cameras were an invasion of privacy.
I’ve worked in places with video cameras and while at first I objected to them, I later rationalized that if I did nothing wrong, I had nothing to fear.
I can now see both points of view. While I don’t want terrorism turning our country into a police state, it was video evidence that helped capture the Boston Marathon bombers.
In the end, I’m not sure how we stop all this nonsense. Clearly an extra camera isn’t going to stop all the hatred. Unfortunately.
When we recall the late Muhammad Ali, we talk about how he fought, both inside and out of the ring, in a different era. Back then, there was something to fight for and now there is not. That’s becoming less and less true. There might not be a Vietnam but there’s a far more dangerous enemy out there now and that enemy is intolerance. The struggle, my friends, is real.
I’m not here to be preachy. I’m not here to tell you how to vote, what to believe or where to store your gun. I do, however, believe tolerance and understanding begin within oneself.
I’m a proud American and a lifelong idealist. I maintain faith that peace and a shared respect for humanity is possible despite the upsetting actions that occur from time to time. I celebrate the freedoms our nation’s heritage has bestowed upon us. Even in heated debate between opposing sides, positive change can emerge. Sight of that can never be lost.
I would not exchange the love I have in my heart for anything. In the battle of love versus hate and good versus evil, I choose the good love every damn time.
Writing about this isn’t fun. I’d much rather be writing about the games that don’t matter but since this site is as much about thought as it is about therapy, it would be an injustice to let this go without mention.
And so, we grieve not only the loss of those who passed but another chink in our collective freedom.
One day the rain will stop. The sun will come out. We must believe that and very often fight for it. That’s going to take a collective effort. Let’s see if we have it in us.
The climate across the country over the past five days has given us real cause to look at what is happening and then ask ourselves what should we be expecting of our leaders and also ourselves ? We have seen the failures of law enforcement (FBI and Orlando PD) in light of the tragedy in Orlando and the blame being apportioned all over the damn place. I personally don’t believe the nation will learn anything from this all other than the usual pragmatism and rhetoric of pulling together , only for another tragedy to befall the country. It’s a sad indictment, but a fact the political leaders simply fail to acknowledge.
Muhammad Ali’s passing still has me thinking back to my youth and to a certain extent questioning my beliefs, but not the point where I’m about to believe I can seek spirituality from a sole deity who has compassion , when there’s evidence of no respect or compassion towards others !
Well said SC. The times they are a changing, for it is the one constant that we can count on. I certainly echo your sentiment and having lived a different side of life can understand how devastating this feels to most. Let’s not, however, get it twisted. The actions of Omar Matteen, I dis-heartedly suspect, reflect the sentiments of many who are confused about, angry with or just plain miserable in their own lives and are not willing to invest in themselves to find a more productive alternative to manage their issues. It is always unfortunate to experience, one way or the other, the stress of a mass killing regardless of the community. Particularly at a time when the politics of our nation are fraught with issues of discrimination across the board, racism, homophobia, etc., etc., etc. The unfortunate truth is that for everyone of us that feels the pain, there are those who celebrate his actions, but are too weak themselves to express it.
I too am an idealist. Always believing in the better good of a person and ultimately of humanity. While incidents such as these are becoming more all too familiar, I cant help but strength my resolve to make a difference, starting with me. Each one of us, in the paraphrased words of Franz Fanon, must through relative opacity, discover our mission, fulfill it or betray it. I can’t pretend to understand what Mr. Mateen’s mission was, but do know mine and I will take responsibility for fulfilling it. I am and will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people I come to know, and they will make and have made a difference in mine.
Amen Chris and a R.I.P. to the 52k of our soldiers that lost their lives in SEAsia. One third were draftees and many of them also had “nuthin against them Viet Cong.”
Know that was difficult to write, in fact this post & your Ali post have been so powerful. And so well written.
SC you are a gifted man with a heart & mind that make us all very, very proud.
Like other great journalists, you help us to face things and question why.
Thank you for another incredible post.
I’m so very proud of the man you’ve grown up to be.
Kudos SC – I’ll just stop there
I think what angered me most is that the focus that should have been on 49 murdered Americans, got pushed to the background as our politicians jockeyed for party platform position and harped on each others stances rather than focusing on the victims massacred on our own soil.
Sick individuals will always exist and carry out mayhem regardless of laws.
Religion and guns certainly played a role in this instance, but dude was clearly confused about a lot of things and HE should bear the brunt of the blame. While both sides of the political spectrum believe they are completely right and the other side is completely wrong…Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
I can’t help but wonder that had at least a single person in that bar had a concealed carry permit, the death toll might be much lower.
When the prey is armed, predators think twice.
I guess great minds seek refuge in the same place. I too happened to watch the PBS Jackie Robinson doc last night after having it on my Tivo for a few weeks. Feel asleep about 45 minutes in though. Looking forward to finishing it. He was an honorable, upstanding man. Something the world needs more of.
Love the post Chump
But your SportsChumps Mom’s post is even better.
Two cheers for Ma.. Hip Hip!!
Very well said, Al.
I think finally you and I agree on something 100%.
Mony, my friend.
That’s exactly why you have been one of my spiritual guides for so long.
I am proud to be under your wing.
Along with everyone who has given their lives in defense of this country and what it stands for.
One might say there is no greater honor.
Thanks as always for the kind words… and the bias, he he.
Thank ya’, Moose.
Tough one to write. Tough to put words out there without them sounding, I don’t know, like what everyone else is saying.
Shame this shit has to happen. But again, I didn’t feel like I could write about anything else until I at least discussed my feelings about what went down.
So, on a much less serious note, Bleed, if we still do have something to fight for, who are the current athletes that would openly take a stand, perhaps risking their almighty dollar to do so.
Who do we have out there that’s anywhere close to Robinson or Ali or Tommie Smith or John Carlos right now?
He he, thanks, TH.
Like I said, she’s a tad biased but she certainly doesn’t mind the audience.