Forgive my absence but these last couple of weeks have been hard. It feels like we are drowning in bad news, standing at the precipice, where how we choose to move forward will change the course of the world. It’s scary and overwhelming to someone who is trying to cling to the light. Who feels deeply adrift and lost. Torn between images and words of unfathomable hate and outpourings of love and support in the wake of the Orlando shootings. Which do I choose?
We live in a wonderfully, imperfect world, full of people with lots of different opinions, values and beliefs. This is what makes the world awesome. It might be easier if we were one big herd who thought exactly the same thing, but we would miss out on so many great things because of this too. It would also be a very boring world.
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”
– Gene Roddenberry
We Are Just Flesh and Bone
We are different people and yet the same. Sometimes the differences are very obvious, like skin color. Other times, the differences are unnoticeable. But in the end, we are just people — made up of flesh, bones, blood and organs — and exactly the same. We are brothers and sisters, regardless of skin color, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.
United, we should stand, shoulder-to-shoulder with one another and supporting one another’s dreams and goals, but we don’t. We look for those differences and judge them bad or good, right or wrong. We use religion to hide our hate and fear, twisting words to suit our needs. We look for reasons to judge our neighbor and not love one another.
I am guilty of this too. I have played judge, jury and executioner in my mind and struggle to have any love in my heart for certain people. There are instances where I would love to pontificate and call my words gospel. But they are not. They are my thoughts and beliefs, which I am entitled to have and share. But that does make them universally true.
I also know this and respect that others may feel differently. Some may have views that I vehemently disagree with and even abhor. I can speak up and share my thoughts. To push back against what I believe to be wrong or even dangerous viewpoints. It does not mean I can pick up a weapon and kill people who disagree with me or live differently than I do. Nor cheer when someone else does.
When Hate Wins
When 49 people who were just having fun at a nightclub (as thousands of people across the United States were also doing) are killed because they are LGBT, please remember, first and foremost, that they are people, just like you and me. They are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, best friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses and just people having a good time.
Photo via BuzzFeed
People who are deeply loved and were violently taken away. This is what happens when hate and intolerance wins (aided by easy access to powerful weapons).
When Love Wins
Amid all the ugliness, there is also light. An outpouring of support and love to remind us that hate only wins when good people stand idly by and do nothing.
Photo of Orland Vigil via Huffington Post 50,000 people came out to show their support, just as thousands have done the same in their cities across the country.
BuzzFeed has some great some great Instagram photos from the vigil. One is an amazing video of a rainbow (yes, a real one) over the crowd. Go watch now. I cried.
JetBlue offered victim’s families traveling to Orlando free transportation. This one is particularly heartwarming story in the face of such tragedy. I cried again.
Disney honored the victims not only by making a donation themselves but also honoring victims with 49 seconds of silence. Can you imagine the work involved to silence a park? So many tears.
An Illinois carpenter made 49 crosses for the Orlando victims. He has made crosses for victims of mass shootings, including Columbine, Newton, Aurora and the Boston Marathon. Too many mass shootings. This has to stop. And yes, I cried again.
Photo via CNN.
There is a lot of darkness in the world right now. And it scares me. But I’m also making a choice to find constructive ways to channel my anger and sorrow to make sure this doesn’t happen again. To choose the light.
I See You
I don’t know what it is like to be a member of the LGBT community and to be afraid of just being yourself could get you killed. I won’t make any grandiose claims that it will get better or you won’t have to deal with intolerance or hate in your life. But I will tell you that I see you, stand by you and you are beautiful, like rainbow.
Love is love is love is love is love is love. I stand with #Orlando and #Love.