I awoke yesterday morning to the news that another mass shooting had occurred. This one was in Orlando, Florida. When I started watching the news the death count was 20, and then it was 30, then it was 40 and soon it was 50, with 53 more wounded. It is now the largest mass shooting in American history. It happened in a gay nightclub called the Pulse.
Around 2:00 a.m. the gunman entered the club where people had been dancing to salsa music and he opened fire. He had an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun. Witnesses describe the scene as horrific. Bodies piled on top of each other. People trying to escape carrying wounded friends. The DJ at the club said, “I saw bodies on the floor, people on the floor everywhere; it was total chaos, everybody trying to get out. The New York Times said it was a ‘panicked scene of unimaginable slaughter, the floors slicked with blood, the dead and the injured piled atop one another.”
The Orlando mass murder has been on my mind all day long. I want to spend this blog sharing two things I have been telling myself.
Don’t panic. The terrorists want to think they have struck fear into our hearts. They want us to tremble when we think of them. That’s why they release the sadistic video tapes of ghastly atrocities committed against their enemies. It is propaganda and you can fall for it if you want. But I refuse to let them win that battle in my mind. They are delusional. Their thoughts are evil. They certainly require our attention but for me, I will maintain a stiff upper lip and go about my business as usual. There are 20,000-30,000 members of ISIS. There are 7 billion people on earth. Their numbers are miniscule. ISIS can cause us problems – big problems. I don’t deny it. They are difficult to eliminate because they are not in one country but rather individuals in terrorist cells spread all over the world. We must be vigilant but we must not panic. If we do, they have won.
The second thought I have been ruminating on is this: I believe love is the strongest force in the universe. So in every way I can think of I am going to love.
I am going to love my LGBTQ friends and let them know my heart is hurting with them over this tragedy. They are precious to me. They are my friends, family and neighbors and I stand in solidarity with them.
I also am going to love Muslims because they are not responsible for what crazed people do anymore than Christians are responsible for the craziness of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas or the deranged man who blows up an abortion clinic killing people because he believes God wants him to. Don’t lump me in with those crazy people who claim to be Christian and don’t lump rank and file American Muslims in with the Orlando shooter. I watched Muslim clerics all day denounce this senseless act of violence. Muslims are not to blame. A radicalized crazy person is to blame.
I also am going to love my family and my friends every single day. This world is filled with uncertainty. We do not have any promise that an event like Saturday night won’t happen to us. We never know when our life is going to end. So, I want to fill my days with loving people. Not judging them but loving them. I think when I do that, it is my way to win against the terrorists evil intentions.
These shootings have become far too common in America. I want them to stop. But until they do, I am going to concentrate on what I can do. I can refuse to panic and I can love. Will it be easy? No. Will we sometimes be a little afraid? Probably. I want to believe this world is becoming a more loving, inclusive, progressive place. The terrorists ideology cannot succeed. It is just a matter of time.