This is a name which will forever haunt the memories of countless Americans. Yet, a part of me feels extremely sad for him, not just the victims and those close to the victims. Was this about homosexuality? Was it about Islamic radicalization? Or was it something else?
Unfortunately, most within the society do not really ask questions seeking depth. We tend to touch the surface just enough to pretend we have an answer, just enough to form an opinion we can later use for our various purposes. But really, why did Omar Mateen feel the need to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle, a ton of ammunition, and enter into a nightclub to kill its patrons?
The media has so far failed to investigate this, instead sticking to narratives it knows will sell. ISIS? Nailed it. LGBT rights? Nailed it. Islam? Nailed it. Gun Rights? Nailed it. What happened to Omar Mateen to start this dangerous journey? No one has asked. By not asking, we fail to understand some problems whose fix can truly save lives. Restricting guns won’t stop someone who wants to kill. Radicalization won’t stop for as long as the perception of enemies exist. Inequality won’t end if we don’t change the various cultures of superiority. Religion won’t magically disappear for as long as mankind has consciousness.
Omar Mateen was married to a very beautiful woman and shared a son together. He was living a life most in religious communities are encouraged to live. Somewhere in between, Omar had created a profile on Grindr and visited a gay nightclub repeatedly. His dad had described an incident when Omar felt angry at seeing two men kiss in a mall. Then he orchestrated a massacre. Something doesn’t really add up. Why did Omar feel angry at two men kissing? Was it due to religious teaching? Or was he wanting to express anger outwardly to someone he trusted as a way of fighting his own desires?
In the end, Omar, no matter the circumstances of his life, was unhappy with his life. He also did not consider any person or organization close to him trustworthy enough to share his unhappiness and internal struggle. Could he go to an Imam and share he was not content with his family life and may have feelings about other men? I doubt it. Such discussions are very taboo and he would likely be judged by the Imam or others within the community. Could he trust his wife? Maybe not. Part of trustworthiness is being reliable or dependable in adverse situations. Would she support him with this struggle between who he is supposed to be, and who he feels he is? He didn’t trust his father to share. He didn’t trust anyone close to him at the very beginning of this developing dichotomy.
Eventually, the lack of trust in individuals and institutions helped build up the intensity of the struggle, and like a volcano slowly building up, it erupts quite violently. Why is there such a lack of trust? Can you trust your community organizations or family members with your deepest and darkest secrets?
I think if we have these discussions, without the pretense of judgment, we can start understanding the dark parts of humanity which exist in each of us, and maybe start a process of spiritual healing. Those people in Orlando never should have died, but Omar Mateen never should have felt he had no other pathway to express his struggle.
The lack of trustworthiness creates radicalization, and is like the heaviest chains of oppression this world knows.