When Hatred Begets Terror, We Rise

In the midst of tragedy I find myself always asking one question- but what can I DO? What can I do to change this? What can I do to make sense of this? How can I continue on about my day and make things better? Comforting others is not my gift- I seek action.

Today is no different. In the wake of Orlando’s deadly shooting, it is tempting to politicize, or capitalize for individual agendas. I could wax philosophical on how I see that mass shootings and any senseless acts of violence in our society, relate at the end of the day to issues like abortion and assisted suicide, because they are all part of the same spectrum of dehumanizing a segment of the population, and justifying an us vs them outlook that seeds violence. And on another day perhaps it will be appropriate to ruminate on these general connections. But today is not that day.

Today is a day for mourning. But it is also a day for action. I’m not talking about posting #prayfororlando on your facebook page. Pray for Orlando. That’s great. That’s awesome. Now DO something about it.

Are you eligible to donate blood? Have you in the last 8 weeks? Then go here, now, and set up an appointment.

Seriously. Do it now. Here’s the link again in case you lost in within the last sentence. (protip: eat lots of iron the day before, and don’t drink tea)

We have no outward control over what happens or what others do. We can only control our response to it. So let us respond in force. In the greatest force that there is- let us respond only and always with love. Love each other. Truly. On this night as we process this horrendous attack, hold your loved ones closer. Find room at your table for someone who needs a seat. Choose love.

Terror seeks to destroy our way of life. It seeks to divide us. We let it win when our rhetoric turns to hatred, and our fear gives way to violence. We are trapped in a vicious cycle and there is, frankly, very little that we as individuals can do to stop it. Except to change our corner. Change something today for one person.

Mother Theresa wrote:

Let us not use bombs and guns to overcome the world. Let us use love and compassion. Peace begins with a smile. Smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at; do it for peace. Let us radiate the peace of God and so light His light and extinguish in the world and in the hearts of all men all hatred and love for power.

Smile, and smile wider. It is easy to respond in anger, it is hard to respond in peace. Choose peace. So there is something proactive for you to do: Respond to this fear, to this anger, to this terror, by choosing joy. Not just for yourself, but for others who come into contact with you.

It’s is a distraction to talk of how this person or that person responded- worth talking about in the days that come, yes, but today, today, focus on what YOU are doing. Do not be wooed by the pretty lights of blaming others- rise, and choose to improve your corner of the world. Choose to channel your anger into action.

You may remember an old commercial from The Ad Council post-9/11. It showed an average street with the voice over intoning how terrorists had tried to change America forever. The terrorists, they say, as the screen fades to black, then comes back to the same street, only this time adorned in American flags with parents and children outside, succeeded.

This attack on Pulse and our brothers and sisters there MUST succeed in changing us. And we must rise and choose to be changed for the better. We cannot be torn apart. We will not use this for our agendas, whatever they may be. We will use this as a precious reminder that our time is fleeting, that we never know when we may see our loved ones again, that we will choose joy, choose love, choose peace. Love each other. Always love each other.

Pray for Orlando, certainly, but bring peace to your streets. We mustn’t ever be the same.

(Have you made your blood donation appointment yet? Here’s that link again. Please- do it now.)

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