Last night when the news broke, I wanted to write something about the Orlando shooting. Instead I felt tired, exhausted, almost to the point of paralysis. I’m indeed tired – tired of these endless streams of depressing news, of hearing about people senselessly killing each other, here, there, and everywhere, of people selectively reading their holy scriptures to fit and jusitfy their own prejudices and psychological wounding. I’m tired to the bone of polarisation, of bigotry, of violence, lack of compassion – this devastating poverty of heart. I’m tired of fanaticism, zealots, people monopolising truth, tired of separatism and supremacy – one above the other, “us” vs. “them”. I’m tired of dishonesty, excessive egotism and protectionism, of deception, the maniacal, mean, and people enforcing their “right” because “god” (or whatever) is on their side. I’m not concerned which political stance, ideology, religion or denomination these misguided individuals claim to be theirs, nor do I care about their nationality and sexual orienation, nor their colour of skin; I care about the fact they’ve got it plain wrong.
My sense of exasperation is probably rooted in my experience over many years that a good talking to, even reasoning with, people who hold such attitudes, is of limited use. All too often confrontation makes little or no difference. With the exception of cases when an individual is near, or already, ripe and ready for that inner shift in consciousness, confrontation tends to have the opposite effect, simply reinforcing and justifying these individuals’ thwarted world views; it’s as if the only way is for it to live its own life until it burns itself out. When, and if, that shift in awareness happens (I have learnt the hard way) will take the time it takes.
Meanwhile we – you and I – must not lose hope, not remain silent and passive, not lose our faith in love (sorry if I sound trite, but it’s true: love – kindness, concern, acceptance, connectedness, respect, inclusion, good will, forgiveness – is the only thing that heals). History shows that good usually wins in the end because despite our inherent capacity for ill-doing, we, people in general, are fundamentally good, and the vast majority of us have had an upbringing good enough to make us decent human beings and honourable citizens.
Thus people who commit these atrocities are few in numbers; they are the aberrations, not the norm, yet their destructive actions frequently cause inordinate harm. Today I despair over how many more lives will have to be sacrificed, how much more suffering must be endured before we come to our senses. How long will it take until we learn?
This time it was the gay population that was being targeted. Even though we’ve seen much progress over the last few decades regarding both the acceptance and rights of the LGBT community, this despicable attack demonstrates the fight for freedom, respect and equality is far from over. Being an introvert, I hate participating in rallies and demonstrations of any kind. Today I decided I’m going to join the Gay Pride parade next week anyway, introvert or not. I’m going to rally for the right to love. Demonstrate. I want to make sure I do my bit in the effort to prevent hate growing even stronger, let alone win.
And, because yesterday’s perpetrator happened to be a muslim, I’m deeply concerned for my muslim friends who are gay, because, yes, queer muslims exist too. Today we’re all in it together and in mourning.
Meanwhile I’ll light a candle. Not just for Orlando but for all of us.