On the whole, I’m having a hard time right now. I’m having a hard time understanding what is going on in the world, with people. I’m having a hard time reconciling any of the heinousness, the hatred, the venom, the vitriol, the gross intolerances that lead us to inflict such—let alone any—harm on one another. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around two (seemingly unrelated) shootings in Orlando in the same weekend, leaving a minimum of 52 dead, and bodies still being counted. I’m having a hard time making sense of no fewer than five (5) mass shootings in the US in the past 60 days and the continued belief that more guns will make our society a safer one. It may be true. Maybe. At present, with things continuing to trend in their current direction, I’ve gotta say, I’m a bit of a skeptic. If it would truly help, I would love to believe that an infusion of firearms into the hands of “the right people” would keep all of us safer, but it just makes so little sense to me. Not to mention, idealist that I am, I’d really love to live in a world where we never resorted to violence as a source of conflict resolution. Laughable, I know. But maybe less preposterous than it sounds. As long as we (collectively) continue to think and act as if anyone who doesn’t think, act, dress, talk, walk, pray, love as we do is so different that we must put up figurative and, now, literal walls to keep them out, at bay, or separate from ourselves, such a world will never be attainable.
Right now, these mass shootings and even individual targeting, in the case of the first Orlando incident, are so frequent that we don’t have time to grieve or even catch our breath between them, and that’s a terrible place to be.
Sometimes friends will recount a story and in the recounting of the story, they point out the ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, height, weight, or other physical characteristic of the subject or even a non-central character. Then, at the end of their story, it’s revealed that that detail had absolutely nothing to do with and zero bearing on the events that took place. So I wonder why it was necessary to mention that detail in the first place. It’s common. It doesn’t truly cause any harm. But it’s a sign that, since grade school, we are conditioned to see differences, to divide, and to create separations based on things that seem to be relevant in some way when, in fact, they’re not.
I’m having a hard time these days knowing exactly where I fit in and with whom I share any values anymore. There was a time when I knew where my friends and family stood on issues. Now, I’m just not sure and I feel an overwhelming level of sadness. I am saddened by the thought that we continue to be further divided, by politics and politicians, by the media, by soundbites, reckless and loose-at-best quoting of various religious tomes and The Constitution, by our various communities, and by ourselves. I’m saddened by the thought that any one of us can be at dinner with our families, in a movie theatre with our kids, in a church, crossing the street, hanging out with friends one minute, then dodging bullets raining down from a cowardly assailant with no warning the next. I’m saddened that so much emphasis is placed on what we look like, who we worship, and where we were born, and so little on, at our core(s), who we are.
If I had to define myself (because the majority of people seem to be generally confused when you can’t do that for them), I’d place myself squarely in the pro-love, pro-human, anti-hate, anti-violence category. That’s it. Not a man. Not a straight man. Not a black man. Not a democrat. Not a former New Yorker now living in Texas. These are merely details. It seems we’ve all been defining things in a binary fashion for so long, that it’s hard to imagine anything else. I like dogs AND cats. I like hotdogs AND hamburgers. I like the Yankees AND the Red Sox…sometimes. I grew up loving Dallas AND the Jets. These days I’m pretty indifferent to all of it. I have liberal AND conservative leanings. Everything’s a grey area. Unthinkable but all within the realm of possibility. I’ve gotta add a little levity to this or else I’ll fall into a deep depression and perhaps take some of you with me. That’s not the goal, at all.
More than anything, I’m tired of waking up and the first headline I read has something to do with another senseless act of violence, perpetrated anywhere, on anyone—leaving innocent civilians dead. That said, I do believe that any individual seeking to inflict harm on any other individual or group, without just cause and not in self-defense, is a detriment and liability to us all and I’m all for whatever it takes to keep other loving, caring, kind, empathetic, productive humans around the world safe and out of harm’s way.
If you feel the same way, feel free to share this or maybe you want to put your own feelings about what’s happening in the world out there for people to see. Just do yourself a favor. Don’t be a bully or a coward like so many choose to be, especially on the Internet. Don’t be swayed by your peers and pressured into supporting something that you truly don’t.
My heart goes out to the families of those lost this weekend and in any of the other senseless acts of violence committed recently or ever. My heart goes out to the families of other friends recently lost because they succumbed to the pressures of feeling like misfits and not ever truly finding their place in this world. We’re all different and we all belong here. It’s nice when humans a little different from you understand that and go out of their way to make you feel welcome, and the gesture is reciprocated.
I hope the breaking news headlines become fewer and the commitment to loving one another despite our differences grows greater with each passing day. Sending love, Orlando.