For the first time in a while I’ve had a request to write about something specific. As I can imagine you’ve heard, on Sunday morning in the early hours a man walked in to a night club and killed 49 people, injuring many more. We have ideas about why, and we have his phone call to 911 claiming what he did for Isis, but there are many many unknowns. What we do know is he had hate in his heart. He has had hate in his heart for a very long time, long enough that the FBI had him on a watch list. This hate, for whatever reason, was used to destroy the lives of hundreds of people. The families and loved ones of those that died, the families and friends and loved ones of those that have been injured, are changed forever. They have been touched by hate.
There are many possibilities about why this man decided to kill as many people as he could. A plausible one is that he himself was gay, and he was fighting the edicts of his own religion, his own mental health, his hatred for his own desires, and turned all of that pain on to others. We will never know exactly what was going through his head, but we do know that he had hate in his heart. Whether it was for others or for himself, or both we will never know. But no matter his reasons for his actions, we now have a couple of choices.
The first choice we have is to turn to fear and hatred ourselves. We can demonize his actions as being through his religion, through his mental health, or his race and we can start our own attacks through fear and hate. We can spread the hate as far and as wide as we can. Based on my Facebook feed this is what some people have chosen to do. We can turn to blame, working to find the who to point the finger at. We can demand an eye for an eye, and seek justice from anyone that shares anything with that man. If we choose that route we will have to remember that those that we hurt will want their vengeance as well. They will want their pound of flesh, and their eye as well.
If we choose fear we will end up feeling bitter, angry and powerless, terrified of full of hate. With fear we have the choice of fighting or running. We can run, and hide. We can choose to never leave our homes, never get on a plane or go to a club or run a race. We can hide, or we can fight. And when we fight we will make more people have hatred as we hurt and maim and kill others in our fight for justice.
That is not the path I want. I do not want to hide, cowering in my home to avoid all possibility of getting hurt by someone’s hatred. There is a big world out there, and I want to experience all I can. I also don’t want to keep the hatred going, punishing whomever I can for my pain and my hurt. The other option that I have is to be one of the helpers.
Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
The helpers are the ones that will bring us back together. Helping people heal, both physically and emotionally from the immediate trauma is the first step. If you aren’t able to help at that immediate level, then help those closest to you that are reeling. Remind them that people in general are good people. Remind them that being a good person and spreading kindness is the best way to heal.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want to take action and make sure you cant get a magazine of 100 rounds for a weapon. That is ridiculous. I will write to my congressman and support legislation to this purpose. I do want to take realistic steps when I can to make sure things don’t happen. What isn’t helpful is pointing fingers, doling out hate, yelling at people that have no involvement, or cowering.
This has been a traumatic event that has affected so many people. There are so many stories floating around, it is easy to get sucked in to the anger and the fear-mongering. One man was able to cause all of this. For whatever reason, he took a weapon and his hate and hurt and hurt as many people as he could. I’m sure that each and every one of us has our own belief about this man, who he was, why he did what he did, and what should happen next. What many of us forget is the kindnesses that are needed to grieve, survive and thrive. I for one won’t let anger and hate keep me from living the life I want to live. A life of exploration, of kindness, and finding beauty wherever I can. This is how we heal. This is how we fight.
My heart is with every mother, father, sister, brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, and friend that lost someone in that club. My heart is with everyone that was there and was part of the terror of a crazed man with a gun. We won’t stop him with more hate. He will continue to hurt all of us if we do this. We will stop him with hope and kindness. With reminders that there is beauty in the world, even when there is ugliness and hate. That acts of great courage will always defeat acts of anger, fear and hate.