It was early Sunday morning when I woke-up to hear the news of over 50 people in the LGBT community were shot and killed in cold blood in an Orlando night club. A wave of sadness and over-whelming grief washed over me. How do we as a society fight back against a few who rage against race, religion, or sexual orientation? In the age of globalization our borders have opened wider, we travel further, and with the age of technology our global interconnection with others has expanded over the horizon. Yet, something is missing in this world which is the acceptance and understanding of one another regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
The dawning light of democracy and upholding the values of individual rights is more important than ever. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening outside of our own back doors. It is recognizing that not everyone upholds those same rights and values. I am a realist and recognize that peace may just be an illusion or a dream in this lifetime. This mass shooting reminds me that with the light there will always be darkness. It is in the darkness that we can begin to question our own beliefs and values but can also challenge us to be a collective conscious that says no more to violence.
Thich Nhat Hanh points out, “We can only shoot others when they are strangers. Real efforts for reconciliation arise when we see the eyes of compassion, and that ability comes when we see clearly the nature of interbeing and the interpenetration of all beings. “
Everyone in that club on Saturday night was a defenseless stranger to that shooter whom was unwilling to question his own radical views. He was raging against humanity because of his limited persecuting beliefs. It is there that lies the question, How do we defend ourselves in a time against a faceless person or people that do not accept our values of individual rights and freedoms and only want to persecute us?
The truth of the matter is we cannot control their thoughts or actions towards our fellow human beings. But we can live each day for those fifty innocent people that were brutally gunned down and persecuted because of their sexual orientation by refusing to live in fear for who we are, the values we uphold, and living a life that is of service to humanity.
A life that we look up from our phones and say hello to our fellow neighbors.
A life were we dance with whomever we please.
A life were we can smile and fill a room with the joy of laughter.
A life were everyone is free to be who they are meant to be.
A life that allows for us to lend a hand to those in need and begin to lookout past our back own back doors seeking social justice.
It is when we step up to wave our guns or spit on others for their own religious views. We are no better than the shooter. We are denying ourselves the good life by choosing to live in the shadows. We are only then playing into the hands of terrorists and denying ourselves the freedom to live in peace. We can only make room for peace in this world by looking past our anger, our fear, and look out into this world with compassion for others.
JFK stated in his inaugural speech in 1961 “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
Is the world so different from 1961? We still seem to be fighting the same battles? Isn’t it time we looked within ourselves during these dark times and to our communities to make the shift for peaceful transformation in this world?
All of these fifty people had names, dreams, and people who loved them. Many of us are angered by this senseless brutality. Yet, we have to now accept the challenge to look past our anger and no allow for the darkness to seep into our lives by living each breath, to appreciate each day with gratitude, and honor fifty spirits lost in this world by living a life worth living full of goodness and love.
It might not be the best political tactic, best policy, but it is a start to creating small vibrations for change and social justice. Maybe just maybe with these small ripples something bigger than you and I will occur were each individual ripples becomes a collective ripple, which becomes a massive continuum wave ending social injustice, violence,and poverty flowing into our future generations lifetime ushering an era of peace.