Love and hate do not lie on the opposite ends of some spectrum, but are two points on a ring. While people often slide slowly from love to hate in a matter of years, it is just as likely to make the immediate jump from one to another. A great love affair can curdle slowly into bitterness, and/or it can lurch suddenly into hate literally overnight.
We do not know how quickly the Orlando killer descended into hate, nor do we know exactly why. While he declared his allegiance to ISIS, evidence is still emerging that the violence may have been a result of (in part) his personal struggle with homosexuality. Maybe he loved ISIS’s extremist interpretation of Islam. Maybe he despised America and its way of life. Maybe he just despised himself.
While it would be great to be able to identify individuals who were likely to externalize their internal conflicts through violence, any process to try to do so can only be deeply flawed, impractical and most likely ineffective.
What we can only hope for is that more deranged people can find PEACE. Not peace in the geopolitical sense, but the personal sense. Not a mere absence of war, but the acknowledgement of and balance in the internal conflicts that rage within all of us.
Maybe if our culture let go of our exaltation of love as a highest human experience, recognizing how quickly it can become hate, we might be able to promote the notion of peace and balance as a more realistic, ultimate human happiness. And, if we can achieve that, perhaps fewer people would find themselves using hatred as a gruesome and distorted way to give their lives some sort of weird meaning.
Maybe then we would be able to realize the true wisdom of “love thy neighbor”.