I can’t decide what to write here. On the one hand I’m afraid to write anything because it can’t be enough. But this is my blog, and my feelings are in such a jumble. I can’t seem to focus on anything, and writing about these feelings blocking up the works might help. So I’m writing.
I feel gutted. And confused. And angry. And tired. The attack on an LGBTQ club in Orlando over the weekend makes no more sense than any other mass shooting. It’s as senseless as all the violence that’s acted out all over our planet every day. There’s no glory in it for anyone. No beauty. No point. It just feels heaped onto the already gigantic pile of suffering that human beings inflict on each other and themselves every hour of every day.
It might sound naive of me, but every time something like this happens, and every time the media here lets me glimpse violence elsewhere in the world–much of it enacted by my own country onto innocents–I am thrown into confusion. How is it possible that people–people with hearts and minds and souls like mine–can believe that this kind of blind hate is justified? How is it possible to turn so far from the path of love, so deliberately, so fully?
I know, as much as I can and as often as I can remember to face it, that I am immensely, deeply, unimaginably lucky. I have happened upon a life that has been largely unaffected directly by violence. The workings of aggression and hate and despair have, blessedly, been abstract concepts for me. I have been privileged to live a life of ease, relative comfort, and love. My queerness has never, thank god, landed me in a violent or scary situation; there have been uncomfortable moments, sure. I’m not out to everyone. I’ve been snubbed and mocked and teased, of course. But I have never been afraid for my safety or that of any of my partners because of who I am. I have never experienced the terror or the blocked-off-ness of hate because of who I love.
The people I know, no matter their own backgrounds and journeys, love. They lift each other up and celebrate life. And that is what I am fortunate to know and understand–the desire to make life and the world in which we live better by loving unconditionally and fully and deeply.
But I know that there are others out there for whom life has been different. For whom experience has been colored by hate and prejudice and violence and greed. And maybe for some of these people, the path to love and compassion and joy just feels too alien to follow. I can’t know what goes on in the mind of someone so bent on violence as the guy who shot up a nightclub full of people seeking safety and acceptance, and I don’t want to ever go there. But I can’t help wondering how it’s possible for a person to go so horribly wrong. So monstrously far off the trail. I wonder what happened to him. Or if he was just…evil.
I’ve never been one to agree with binaries. Male/female, good/evil. But sometimes things happen and when I look at them, my brain just stops processing information effectively, and all I can think is, “This is so wrong. It must be evil.” And I don’t want to look harder, look closer. The stench of evil hangs over the slaughter of innocent lives and the maiming of others, the hopes and dreams and hearts of scores of human beings, just as it hangs over so many other things that we do as humans. And on those days it hurts to consider myself one of them–how can I be part of a species that does this work? Enacts this violence? Is capable of such blind hate? I shut down when I hear about these atrocities, and so many others going on elsewhere. I can’t bear to be a part of such senselessness, such evil.
But then, you know… I’m also part of a species that fights back against evil. With kindness and love and tears and anger and sadness, the holding of hands and of candles. The species that has already raised almost three million dollars to support the victims of the shooting in Orlando. The species that really, honestly, so often just wants to do the right thing. And we happen to live in a world in which the right thing is often very difficult to figure out. But we are trying.
So I’m trying, too. To hold my head high and remind myself that most of us are working to be better. To PRIDE HARDER THAN WE HAVE EVER PRIDED this month. To love unapologetically and unafraid, no matter what the evil out there does or says. The only salvation we can hope for is to overpower the evil, someday, with our love. It’s the only answer.
Please donate if you can. Give blood if you can. Hug your loved ones. Be unafraid. Be full to bursting to with love and acceptance and joy and fight back the evil that plagues us. Hope is all we have–that and each other.