|Image courtesy of Jacksonville.com|
I have spent the better part of 2 hours this morning, trying to get something going on this page pertaining to surgery, weight loss, or life changes. But I have been completely unable to get a clear train of thought, due to a tragic event about 1,500 miles away.
You know - in Orlando, Florida.
I have a pretty broad constituency of friends and family. I know people prepared to vote Republican, Democrat, and Independent. I have family members who are part of the LGBT community, and other family members whose religious beliefs tell them that homosexuality is "sinful" behavior. I have been acquainted with atheists, adherents of all the major religions in the world, and followers of many of the "minor" ones.
I have yet to meet a person who thought it was right to arm themselves, walk into a busy nightclub, and start shooting people because the beliefs or lifestyles of the people inside didn't line up with their own.
The politicians are already talking, like they always do. The voices of the pundits are in fine form this morning, making sure that their particular beliefs are voiced. The forces of division and polarization are at work already, asking us to line up on our assigned side. For or against. Right or wrong. Pro or anti.
We can not even, for a single day, agree that these people did not deserve to be killed and wounded, and try to reach out to them and their loved ones. For once, can we leave the politics out of it - knowing full well that it is we, the citizens of America, who are so divided and polarized that we have created an environment within which this hate can exist and thrive?
Guns did not cause this.
Islam did not cause this.
Homosexuality did not cause this.
Hatred caused this.
As long as we only turn inward to embrace only the members of our chosen communities or ideologies, we will never overcome tragedies like these. It is time to start placing the blame where it belongs - on those of us who are too afraid to reach out to those we don't understand, to find common cause in that which represents us all - our humanity. As long as we continue to place our personal beliefs upon altars of ideology, we will never acknowledge the vailidity of the choices and experiences of others.
Today, I challenge you: reach out to someone whose beliefs you do not agree with. Ask questions. Listen, and do not argue. Walk away knowing that you understand more now than you did a few minutes ago. Ignorance breeds fear. No one attacks what they do not fear. Expand what you understand, and diminish what you are afraid of. Do it today.
Because none of us wants to look forward to fear acting out again like it did yesterday in Orlando.
To Peaceful Rest For The Departed, And Speedy Recovery To Those Still With Us,