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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

An Open Letter To The Mothers Of The Garland Shooting Attackers

Hey Mamas,

I'm sorry

I’m sorry. I’m sorry you lost your boys. As the mother of a boy, this is the unthinkable. My heart aches for your loss.

I’m sorry your sons died over cartoons. Cartoons are supposed to be sources of humour and smiles and laughter. They are supposed to trigger thought, not violence. They are entertainment, commentary and art… not a reason to die.

I’m sorry that in the wake of Charlie Hebdo, the media did not stand up for free speech and publish as many Muhammad cartoons as possible, making it normal. I’m sure, had the media not been so gutless, and Muhammad cartoons became frequent and normal, that the ones in Garland would not have had the impact on your sons that they did.

I’m sorry your sons’ education failed to produce critical thinkers and instead, likely left them feeling bullied, alone and terrified for their future, like most other kids. I’m sorry their education failed to fill their lives with richness and awe and wonder, and instead, left them empty, looking for something to fill a void.

I’m sorry your sons never got to experience the joy of being skeptical; of saying, “I don’t know, but I want to find out.”

I’m sorry indoctrination is not a criminal offence, and that more little girls and boys are being groomed as we speak to grow into adults who truly believe they are doing God’s good work when they hurt other people. I’m sorry more mothers like yourselves will experience what you are experiencing.

I’m sorry a kind-hearted atheist wasn’t able to spark up a conversation with your boys long enough to cause some doubts. I’m sorry they died before someone rattled their cages of faith.

I’m sorry there aren’t more out, open and proud atheists out there willing to engage people like your sons in a friendly conversation aimed at exposing the cracks in the myth of Allah, the tall tale of Muhammad and the elaborate yarn of some blissful afterlife.

I’m sorry I became an outspoken atheist when I was 36, rather than when I was 15. I’m sorry I waited so long. I’m sorry I missed 20 years of potentially changing minds, and leading people like your sons away from the dangers of religion.

I’m sorry I never knew your sons. I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to meet them, to speak with them openly and honestly about what they believe. I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to help either of them see reason.

I’m sorry for all of these things because I bet you looked at your sons with pride. I bet you loved them with all your hearts. I bet they were good boys, smart boys, loving boys. I would guess and say the world lost two men who wanted to do the right thing, but they had the wrong ideas in their heads.

My heart goes out to you both. I pledge to you, in the wake of your losses, that I will work as hard as I possibly can to lead good people like your sons, away from the darkness of ancient myth and into the light of reason. I pledge to you that I will do this until my body won’t let me do it anymore. I pledge this to you because no mother should experience what you are experiencing.

My heart is broken for you. I’m sorry.

Sincerely, Courtney

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