The Power of A Bad Idea

By Charles Mueller

50 people are dead.

50+ more injured.

One idea is responsible for it all.

The idea that it is OK to kill because someone else feels, thinks and loves differently than you.

It starts with a belief that those you judge with hate deserve the worst, to be banished to some place like hell, and it ends with an irrational decision to end the life of someone you never took the time to know or truly understand.  Sunday was another sad day in a long history of sad days where we were again reminded that the world we live in creates, promotes and even incentivizes this kind of thinking.  Monday was another reminder that no matter how many times this happens, we never seem to address the actual problem causing it all.

We expect our laws and morals to keep society in line, but terrorist organizations like ISIS remind us that is not the case.  As long as an irrational thought can be ingrained inside someone’s head, humanity remains vulnerable to horrific acts of violence.  The issue plaguing our nation and the world isn’t gun control, LBGT equality, or even ISIS, although all these issues matter. The issue is that we live in a world where it is OK for people to think and act irrationally.  As long as we allow our laws, our morals, and our cultures to accept irrational thinking, people will use technology to hurt people. Irrational actors will use their words to disenfranchise and deny those different from them certain rights, and they will organize to collectively recruit others into their own irrational ideologies, regardless of the future impacts.

These events of terror hurt us all because the actions of these individuals don’t make sense to anyone but those with the same misguided beliefs.  We all find ourselves asking, “WHY?”

Why did the Nazi’s systematically kill Jewish people?  Why did the followers of Charles Manson carry out those horrific acts? Why did Dylan Roof kill innocent people at church?  Why did Omar Mateen kill 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando?  There isn’t a rational answer for why these things occur and that is the point—these acts are justified using irrational thinking. When we create a world where irrational thinking is acceptable, we create a world where these kinds of things can and will happen because irrational people do irrational things.

My heart hurts for all those directly impacted by the events in Orlando this weekend, but my heart also hurts for those in the future, destined to be hurt in equally painful ways because we have failed to learn from our past.  Yes, there are immediate actions we need to take to remedy the symptoms of this irrational disease, but treating the symptoms only buys us time to deal with the cause.  You can’t cure a disease by treating the symptoms.  The discussions centered on the Orlando shooting are focusing on the symptoms of a much greater cause, one that starts in places like our Constitution, our family traditions, and even our religious text.

So how do we fix this?  Maybe one place to start is with our thought leaders, like parents, educators, celebrities, and world leaders.  If this group of influential people, of which we are all a part of, committed themselves to promoting science and rational thought in every one of our choices, no matter how annoying it might be to think things through, perhaps we could minimize the irrational acts.  We currently live in a world where you can act irrationally in one setting, but not another, creating confusion and hypocrisy in our everyday lives.  If you truly believe that those in hell exist forever, why should it be any less damning to wish someone to the worst place imaginable than to kill them?  Both are irrational and both are bad for society.

It is time for something bold, something that signals to the world we are committed to finding a cure for all the unnecessary, irrational violence and hate in this world.  Maybe it is finally time to listen to our founding fathers and revisit the very nature of our Constitution-the doctrine we’ve all agreed is something that should reflect the ideologies of the people, work for the people and be by the people.  Let’s challenge our lawmakers to hold a Constitutional Convention, a meeting where we rethink the American way of life.  Let’s write a doctrine where the rights of individuals are not guaranteed by beliefs, but on rational decisions good for everyone.  Let’s make it so no law or regulation can be written without thinking it through rationally.  Let’s help lead the world to a better state by showing it a place where ideas like freedom of speech and the right to bear arms can exist without the fear that people will use those rights to convince others to do irrational things or resort to deadly acts of violence when they have irrational motivations.

Let’s unlock the true potential of freedom and create a rational world, a world where terror literally has no fertile place to grow.

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