Do We Actually Learn Anything From Orlando? #JustWondering

June 17, 2016

There was an unfortunate irony that slapped me in the face, when I read our city’s main paper, on the date indicated above. If you wanted to read along, check out the WFP, page A12, which contains 3 articles addressing tolerance, in subliminal and paradoxical ways.


Before I pull a Beautiful Mind, and start pressing thumbtacks into your imagination with little colored threads, connecting and unwinding these 3 article’s tragic and ironic relationships, I wanted to pose a few questions:

How often do we learn and make lasting changes after hearing about another tragedy we are shown on TV, in newspapers, or through internet mass-distribution?

Do people still treat each other differently after 9/11?

Even in New York?

Is there less stigma towards Vincent Li in Manitoba, as he is slowly released back into the community?

Do you think of Columbine anymore?

How about Nagasaki?


You may have answered in a way contrary to my main point, and to that, I would suggest that you are the outlier.

We move on from things as our lives rather quickly return to their specific paths, even after celebrity volcanoes explode around us. Currently, it is Bowie, Prince, and others; before it was Kurt, Tupac and Biggie. And the pages keep on turning.


There are always big things happening on a connected planet. The constant awareness that no matter how great we become; we too may die, is disconcerting.  Even worse is the knowledge of the horrendous acts some of us engage in.

My recent concerns appear to revolve around my perception of how little we seem to be learning and changing, as a society, in the face of all the mayhem, intolerance, and death.

Now on to the WFP, page A12

The title sitting in the top right area of the page?

Obama embraces Orlando families, makes appeal for gun control.

Essentially an article highlighting the most recent shootings in Orlando as yet another appeal for gun control. It is interesting right away that the column is almost immediately cut off by a Subaru advertisement, touting their AWD system offering ‘MORE CONTROL’.  This is a very timely offer, as only 2 paragraphs and one massacre in, more control sounds very appealing.

Once reconnected to the text, we catch Obama quoted several times, pleading for firearm restrictions and reminding Americans that their military can’t stop these types of lone wolf attacks.

He is also quoted as saying ‘our hearts are broken too’ in reference to the victims, and what their families are suffering. Implicit in these words is the acknowledgement that the gender identity or sexuality of the victims is irrelevant. The only relevant thing is the need to grieve at the loss of so many important brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, family and friends who lost their right to march to whatever tune they chose to, on this often lonely planet.


Obama has long tried to improve American society by acknowledging Americans are equal regardless of any qualifiers related to race, religion, gender or sexuality. His recent call for gender neutral washrooms in public spaces in America further supports this notion that, after all the wars and mass murders that this President has witnessed, the best forward action should be tolerance and helping those least able to help themselves.

The article at the bottom:

Steinbach politicians skip Pride march – one to attend Frog Follies.

frog in pot 2

I was not proud to be Canadian, after reading this article.

In a nutshell, the article describes the decision by all 3 levels of local government in Steinbach to not attend the Gay Pride Parade, being held on July 9th. The organizer of the event expressed her disappointment, particularly in light of the Orlando shootings, as this would have been a timely moment for ‘leadership’ to express their support for people who arguably need it the most.

It appears this level of government is operating and experiencing a different reality compared to Obama et al.

And the article, and perhaps even we as the reader, caught somewhere in the middle:

Widow described as sheltered, simple.

I thought this description of the ‘lone wolf’s widow’, who apparently had no idea of the type of hatred that was brewing in the man she lived with, off-putting.  It reminded me of the false intimacy we all seem so capable of, from time to time, with close relationships as well as subjectively sympathetic strangers.

I wondered how often reading any article actually changed my values, how well I actually know ‘other people’, and about my own privileges and blind spots.  There are moments where I yearn for the Widow’s particular simplistic worldview, whether it serves her well, or not.

And I wondered how sheltered, in general, one has to be, to not recognize the rights we all should have.  At the very least we all deserve a life protected from another’s misguided homicidal values, and/or access to automatic weapons.

In the end, I moved on from page A12 to take my chances with the next page’s unpredictable updates; feeling stronger for Obama’s stance, and disappointed with the leaders in Steinbach.  I think in some ways, my residual feelings most closely aligned with the Widow’s: sheltered, sad, confused.

As the details of other people’s lives in the following pages started to mix with A12’s, promises to be a better person both stewed, and became diluted, by fluffy distractions.  This discrepancy can sometimes feel intolerable to me, but this time I felt thankful for the opportunity to hide out in the Sports section.

Simon Trepel, MD

Check out my Blog at Simon Says Psych Stuff



One thought on “Do We Actually Learn Anything From Orlando? #JustWondering

  1. Shelley says:

    To be altered by the pain of other people, one must embrace it, be willing to take a part of it on, knowing the greatest impact will be to oneself, not the other. This is most certainly not the path of least resistance we are all so comfortable walking down each day. Perhaps the humans being on this planet, will move from the comfortable path, onto the one that leads to the society some so deeply desire, or perhaps not.

    Liked by 2 people

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