I woke up Sunday morning at 6:30 am, checked Facebook and saw a couple of posts about a mass shooting in Orlando. This piqued my interest enough to turn on the local news, something I never do. Sure enough there was a major event unfolding and it would only continue to get worse as the details came out.
Since the attack I have been watching the local Orlando news stations, listening to the local Orlando radio stations, as well as the national news and radio stations, and scrolling Facebook nonstop.
This morning I had a previously scheduled coffee date with a friend and a new friend, both heavily involved in the LGBT community. This new friend was a frequent visitor of The Pulse Night Club. She broke down with sadness when speaking about her friends who frequent The Pulse and all of her fond memories she has made there. My other friend also broke down, this isn’t just a community she hangs out with, this is a community she is beginning to explore herself. Now she has to actually worry about her physical safety, because of choices that are nobody’s damn business.
I looked at the table next to us and the women at that table were also in tears. The sadness is real here. Everyone either knows a victim or is only one or two degrees of separation from a victim.
Here is what’s on my heart…
We all need to take a deep breath, try not to let the negative feelings of hate and blame be what guides us, and…
STOP LETTING DIFFERENCE DIVIDE US!
Stop looking for arguments.
Stop pointing out the differences.
This is not the time to point fingers at anyone except the individual who was so full of hate he took it out on others.
You know what time it is? It is time to stop building fences and start building bridges.
Slow down and make time to talk to people. Even those who are vastly different from you.
Step out of your comfort zone and connect.
My life is so much richer because of the wide variety of people I have let into my heart. I used to be extremely judgmental. I am a somewhat conservative, somewhat liberal, somewhat libertarian, white, Christian female. I have surrounded myself with friends and family ranging from a socialist Jew, to preppers, to an activist for black rights, to ultra conservative Christians, to outspoken gay rights activists.
We don’t always see eye to eye, but these people challenge me, grow me, and remind me that people are different. The one constant is that we are all people. We are all human regardless our backgrounds, our beliefs, and our differences.
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.