A word has not yet been invented which adequately expresses the emotions surrounding the shooting at Pulse Night Club in Orlando. We are all feeling it. The look on my son’s face when he appeared at our bedroom door said it all. Anger, fear, and disbelief wrapped in to one blank stare. We felt the same all day long, and probably for days to come.
Call it senseless, call it the most deadly mass shooting in US history, or we can call it what it truly was, a hate crime and in the end was an attack on people of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicity, and creeds.
Blaming radical religion is of little comfort right now to any who escaped the horror of the night, who were there working the crime scene, or at the hospital counseling the grieving. Calling it domestic terrorism, ruminating over ties to ISIS, or pondering why this sick individual chose to load up his guns and destroy the lives of innocent people is of little interest to families and friends who are identifying the remains of their loved ones. Sadness repels explanation.
While there may not be a single word in existence to convey the total devastation in the Orlando community there is a word that is already helping to heal the open wound. Love. This hate crime will not stop the outpouring of love from all over the world. The LGBTQ community is well versed in dealing with hatred, bigotry, and judgment from those who do not agree with their “lifestyle.”
Every day the LGBTQ community suits up with protective armor to guard against those who may have hate on their agenda. Pulse was a safe place for all who entered through the doors and was opened to pay tribute to the memory of one of our brothers who lost his life to AIDS. This space was a reminder to celebrate life, love, and all of the good things in the world. Family, friends, art, music, community, freedom, and authenticity is the essence of Pulse.
As we grieve the unnecessary loss that took place within those walls this past weekend and work through the understandable anger and confusion, we must resist the urge to return hatred with hatred. Giving in to hate continues the cycle of violence and division which distracts us from the unprecedented loss of life. This is how we separate ourselves from those who attack people who think, act, believe, or live in ways that are different from their own.
Above all else, we must fight the fear rising up and continue the outpouring of love, respect, and compassion for one another. This is the truest way to accelerate the healing process, support each other, and move forward in the wake of this tragic event.
Staying mindful of the important things is hard when sadness and grief descend upon us however putting faith in our collective spirit is more powerful than any assault weapon, screwed up ideology, or unstable person with an agenda.
Today we remember those that were lost, lift up in prayer those that were injured, and do whatever we can to support their families, friends, and one another. Today is not the day for debating gun laws, engaging in political discourse, or arguing over religious doctrine.
As we think of the victims and the pain for their loved ones, it is a sobering reminder about what happens to one of us happens to all of us. We are all connected and every human sharing space on this planet is valued, loved, and deserves better than what happened in Orlando.
Our community will heal and America will heal when we stop feeding the monsters in our heads that tell us it is ok to hate anything we disagree with, regardless of the reason. The ability to rise above hate is the ultimate path to peace and what civilized, loving, and determined folk do instinctively. There is no greater mission than that of spreading kindness, peace, and love in whatever crazy world we find ourselves living in.
If the sickening and disturbing images from the attack become too heavy to bear, choose instead to think about the lines of people at blood banks within moments of the call for donations and the outpouring of love and support from the community. Think also about the shared strength, determination, and refusal to accept fear as a way of life being shown by all who reject this hatred. Through the heartbreak and tears the healing process begins for each of us. Do something good. Hug your loved ones. Be a light in the darkness and most importantly, be kind to one another always.