Like all of us, the shooting in Orlando has left me heartbroken.
I am not gay, I am not Muslim. I am white, male, Christian, and heterosexual. My family which is of mixed Scottish and Irish ancestry has been in the country so long that people have forgotten we were also once immigrants ouselves, and no one questions my right to be in this country and life my life as I see fit. All this is to say that in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be personally marginalized, oppressed or abused for who and what I am.
But nonetheless, I am heartbroken and I grieve for the dead and wounded, and I grieve for and with the gay and Muslim communities who must now and will continue to live with consequences of this event, and the consequences of events like it that happen all too often to marginalized groups all over the world.
The internet can be a terribly place when something like this happens, simply because it seems like most people are out to tear off scabs, point fingers or say "I told you so".
Those who are already against Islam take it as an opportunity to pillory Muslims.
Those who are already against religion pillory all religions and all religious folks.
Those who are already anti-gun pillory gun laws and gun owners.
People pillory the justice system for not keeping better tabs.
People blame our medical system for failing to identify and treat mental illness.
People post that they are praying, others criticize prayer as useless.
We are all left grasping at threads, trying to make sense of a tragedy that is by definition senseless. We are left trying to find the root cause, trying to find something or someone to blame, and so we blame Muslims, religion, guns, etc. This is human. We are a species of problem solvers, gifted with intellect, and for many of us, finding "a solution" or "a reason" distracts us and drives the overwhelming pain we actually feel deeper down inside us.
I am not a sociologist, but I suspect that the problem is more complex than any one of the issues listed above. I have heard all the arguments, and my intention is not to engage with them because I really don't think there is any point.
Yes, you could eliminate guns, but hatred will still find a way to do damage. Yes, you could eliminate religion, but people have and will continue to find reasons to hate other people. Yes, you could tighten up surveillance, but that would be at the cost of personal freedom and liberty. Yes, you could stop people from praying, but sometimes that is all someone has at a time like this.
But in the end, "the solution" or "the reason" does not seem to be forthcoming, and we are left with pain.
I am not the most hopeful or optimistic of people at the best of times. It is hard for me to look at the frequency and barbarity of this and other acts like it around the world and feel like there is reason to hope.
And yet there is.
I have seen footage of people lined up around the block in Orlando, waiting to donate blood, and those people were quite obviously from many races, creeds and colours.
I have seen footage and still photos of vigils around the world.
I have seen world monuments lit up with rainbows.
I have seen people posting messages of brotherly and sisterly love addressed to the LGBTQ and Muslim communities. I have seen both of those communities posting messages of love to one another.
I have seen people refusing to hate, refusing to isolate, refusing the seek vengeance, refusing to demonize.
I have seen people ask and be informed how they can help or be of service.
I see people reaching out to people, regardless of who they are or what demographic they correspond to.
Don't get me wrong, there is most certainly evil and hatred in the world. But there is also great love and great hope.
I have hope. I have hope that we will someday be able to put away hatred in every form. I have hope that people will dance again at Pulse. I have hope that people are already dancing elsewhere. I have hope that people are coming home to their partners and letting them know how much they are loved. I have hope that more people are learning to love than to hate because more people are teaching their kids to love than to hate. I have hope that every group or individual who sees hatred and violence as an appropriate response to anything will see that love is and will always be more powerful and will always win.
I have hope.