Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Saying the Same Old Things In Response to a New Tragedy

Like many, my heart is broken. Like many, I am angry and frustrated. Like many, I want to scream and weep and take action. Like many, I am helpless.

The tragedy in Orlando... I can't really find the word that I am ok using for what happened in Orlando. Yes, it is horrific. It is a tragedy. It was a shooting. It was murder. All those things make my stomach churn. It was hate. Evil, dark, horrible, unfathomable hate. It was slaughter.

I think back 20 years and I could have been in that club. When my best friend came out, we would go together to a local gay nightclub. I spent many, many nights dancing, drinking, laughing, watching drag shows, and meeting all kinds of people. It was my big introduction to the gay community. And it is a community. And these clubs and restaurants do feel like a safe place. Or they did. I know that the club we frequented was a place where some men and women were first dipping their toe into the community, first being open about their sexuality. And it was a place where they were accepted as they were.

I even got to experience a small piece of that sense of it being a safe place. I was raised with different values than I embrace now. So being in the gay community, embracing my best friend as he came out and figured out who he was, was something I never imagined being part of my life. I wasn't taught to be an Ally - but I certainly became one.

I have written my opinions on equality many times.

But as the events of Sunday morning unfolded and as I was reminded how many people I love were reminded of the fear that is always constantly pressent in their lives... I was also reminded of what I see as an ugly side of people.

The people who used this as an opportunity to blast Muslims, Islam, immigrants, homosexuality, and the debate over gun control. Answering hate with hate is not a good combination.

Sometimes, I really prefer just staying in my little bubble where I can pretend that the majority of people in the world really do believe in Love and Peace and Compassion and that it is really the outliers who just haven't caught on to it yet.

But this tragedy, because it involves more buzz words than previous shootings, and our current political climate in the US, shows me that we still have a long way to go.

Because it sure seems like our love of guns is a higher priority than our love of the LGBTQ community, our love of the people in the movie seats around us, our love of our co-workers, our love of college students, our love of Amish school children and our love of elementary school children and their teachers.

If your response to the news of violence is "don't take away my guns," you might need to re-examine your self-claimed pro-life stance.

If your response to the news of violence is "God is punishing them for sin," you need to re-examine your understanding of the Bible.

If your only response to the news of violence is to pray, you need to find a way to take action. Especially actions of love.

In the wake of this current tragedy, if you are someone who has been afraid to use your voice to speak up for those who are marginalized, who has been worried what others would think of you if you speak up for equality, who has been scared of the fallout if you speak your heart... I have been there. I have worried and fretted about who I might insult, who might think less of me, who might stop loving me or liking me. But it is important to speak up, speak out. Be an ally. Stand against current gun laws. Fight for change.

We each have a different way that we feel called to respond. We each have a different way to speak out, to take action.

In some ways, it might feel easy to just turn away from this. To just not look at the pictures or read the names. They're gay - I'm not. They're Latino - I'm not. They're young - I'm not. But here is your chance to take step one to really learn to embrace people. Look at each picture. Listen to the stories of the people who survived. The people who helped. The people who are mourning. And then pay attention to the people around you everyday. The barista at Starbucks. The person who greets you at a ride at Disney World. The background dancer at a local community theatre show. Your UPS delivery guy. The driver in the car next to you. Because those are the people who were killed.

I'm tired. I'm angry. And I'm longing for my bubble to be the real world. For people to know what joy and peace and love really feel like.

Peace and Love,

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