I just learned that Omar Mateen, the Orlando gunman, briefly attended Indian River State College, and was kicked out because he threatened to bring a gun there. I received my last degree from IRSC, and I’m now profoundly grateful that I wasn’t there the same year. Even so, this news has me extremely rattled. He still lived in that town when I did. For all I know we may have crossed paths.
Still, I loved that town. I loved that campus. It’s beautiful. I enjoyed my studies. I always felt safe there, except when I encountered the prison crew that they inexplicably allowed to maintain the grounds. (I don’t think virtually unsupervised convicted criminals and nubile young coeds make a good combo, but hey, who am I?)
The fact is that whenever you are amongst a large crowd of human beings, no matter how tranquil the setting may seem, you never know what the risks are. It’s really disturbing to realize that you can’t control the actions of others. It’s even more disturbing that serious mental illness in this country seems to fall into some strange bureaucratic crack, so many people aren’t getting the help they so desperately need when they lose their way.
Does that mean I’m going to stop going places and doing things? No. I refuse to be ruled by fear. In fact, I’ll be participating in a lot of the Seattle Pride events to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. I’m glad that most of those events will be out of doors. I don’t relish the idea of being trapped in a building at the moment. I also suspect there will be an increased police presence, and it’s a shame that that has to be the case.
I’d be kidding myself if I said that things aren’t going to cross my mind. Are any of the people around me secretly ruled by rage? Do they think death (their own or that of someone else) is something they have a right to determine? Do they have an over-inflated sense of their own importance, or think that someone is out to get them?
I hate to contemplate the hellish existence of the (fortunately) small number of people who reside on the violent lunatic fringe. It makes me sad to think about their suffering, and even sadder to think of the suffering they could rain down upon the heads of those strangers who happen to be within range of their irrational perspectives.
Wishing peace and safety to you and all the people that you love.