As the holy month of Ramadan had barely started, and we had begun enjoying the traditions of the month in Pakistan and all over the world, the shocking news about the tragic Orlando mass shooting reached us through the electronic media. Forty-nine young people in a night-club were killed, and over fifty more were injured, making it the worst mass killing in recent American history after 9/11. The alleged perpetrator, Omar Mateen, an American-born 29-year old man of Afghan descent was killed by the police as they had to take action to avoid further killings.

In today’s article, I shall discuss some aspects related to how we reason about and react to tragedies and terrorist attacks of this kind; how can we search for reasons and motives; how we can employ measures that can reduce the number of tragedies in future. How can large violent crimes and terrorist attacks be reduced and never happen again?

The venue for the Orlando massacre was a popular dance club, frequented mostly, but not only, by gay people and others belonging to the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people). Now, it is also suggested that the alleged perpetrator may have been gay or bi-sexual, and that he may have been killing those with leanings or orientation that he disliked in himself, or it could be that he hated such people but wasn’t one of them himself. This is likely to be something that we will hear much about during the search for motives, especially since TV talk shows and gossip magazines thrive on slanderous topics of this kind.

I don’t really see that the alleged perpetrator’s sexual orientation makes much difference as a concrete motive or reason for his terrible actions. It is easy to make superficial psychological personality analysis, but it would only explain a little bit of the reasons behind the tragedy. What if he was a twice or trice divorced man who had targeted women only in his shooting? Then we could have said that he ‘hated all women’, yet based on scant analysis.

On the other hand, in the current case, it may be worthwhile discussing many social, moral and religious issues in the alleged perpetrator’s background and life, but mainly outside the direct motives, or general background, for the tragedy. We could have even broad discussions about the overall integration and well-being of immigrants and newcomers to American, as well as the situation of various indigenous sub-groups. Many live on the fringes of the society and they may feel second-class citizens, being left behind mainstream society and therefore detest it and many of its pillars.

Based on what is known thus far, it seems that the alleged perpetrator suffered from deep psychological and social disorder and illness; it has been suggested that he was schizophrenic or bipolar. It seems that he was indeed a sick man. Therefore, we should also feel compassion for him. He should have been given help and treatment; he should probably have been on medication so that his anger and anti-social behavior could have been controlled, and so that he too could have been able to enjoy a more harmonious life. He must have been ill for many years, maybe all his life.

Why did not anybody realize that? And those who presumably did, or suspected that something was very wrong, why did they all let it pass? They were many: ex-wife and current wife, employers, parents, friends, school teachers, and others? True, the alleged perpetrator’s behavior may have been unpredictable and crazy only sometimes, and his violence may have been periodic and mostly hidden behind the home’s closed doors. Besides, there is also a tolerance for men’s violent behavior and domestic violence in many societies and sub-cultures.

The media, opinion-leaders and even some politicians were quick to look for a connection to foreign and violent Islamic groups, and if the alleged perpetrator had had contact with ISIS, and possibly was carrying out orders by them or another terrorist group. There seems to be little evidence of that, although the alleged perpetrator had just before the terrible, sinful actions claimed he sympathized with ISIS. I would suggest that he knew little about the group.

People are too quick to assume there were religious, or political-religious, dimensions behind tragedies of the kind we have just seen in Orlando. That is also simplistic. Perhaps just the name and background of the alleged perpetrator were enough to make lose claims. We must not take for granted what people say. We must not easily listen to those who claim responsibility and want to take credit for actions. We must not be over-eager to express our own opinions, which may be based on prejudice and scanty, even directly wrong pieces of information.

When the Norwegian tragic mass killing happened on 22 July 2011, the extremist new-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo city and at the Utøya Island summer camp for Labour Party youth-wingers. Breivik seemed to have had clearer politically and ideologically developed motives than there seem to be in the current case in Orlando. But Breivik, too, and indeed the current alleged perpetrator seem to have had messy motives for what they did. Besides, they could, and indeed should have used other, peaceful actions to draw attention to what they wanted to say, if they really wanted people to listen.

In both cases, the actions were carried out by deeply disturbed and mentally ill persons. And I believe the society’s various institutions should have seen the signs of possible antisocial behavior in deeply disturbed and ill loners long before the tragedies happened. The perpetrators also suffered, and they, too, should have been spared for what happened – as indeed should the victims and their families and friends, and the society at large.

Sadly, in spite of all the expertise we have in our time about social and mental behavior and health, we so often fail to help disturbed and sick people. Sometimes, in my more depressive moments, I think there could have been many more ‘crazy crimes and terrorist attacks’ than we already have considering that there are many crazy, extremist and unstable people among us. Most, if not all perpetrators suffer from mental illnesses and deep antisocial behavior disorders. We ought to be able to help such people before it is too late.

We all may like quick-fixes and simple and heavy-handed cures to evils in society – just as Donald Trump and other populist extremist politicians want, but the world isn’t like that.  The way to avoid increases in terrible incidents like the one in Orlando lie in the thinking I presented. That would lead to fewer incidents, but we will always have some, unfortunately. Furthermore, if we are more inclusive and concerned about our fellow human beings, if we become better at watching out for each other, then we will have fewer Breivik and Orlando massacres.

I am sure Donald Trump, the American presidential candidate, and other populists would say I am a ‘softy’, well, he would have found a much nastier word and come up with counter-productive ‘lose talk’ about what to do. Instead, let us be sober and systematic, and let us use positively all the knowledge we have in psychology, social co-existence, and in moral and religious thinking. Then we will more rarely see such gruesome massacres as those we repeatedly see, indeed the one in Orlando, but also many of the terrorist attacks we have seen in Pakistan and elsewhere. It is positive and inclusive approaches that will give the results we want, but we also need the security people do their work, and sometimes they, too, have good generalist insight in how people behave.