In the wake of Orlando…

In NYC and other large cities throughout the U.S., there are prophets – for lack of better description – that hold signs of protest and shout at bypassers how we must repent for our sins, as the end of days is near. We have lost our way, and our world is in disarray due to people that have forgotten God and forgotten love. Most people shuffle on by, unfazed by the message, likely labeling that person as mentally unstable or a religious radical. I know I am guilty.

Maybe they’re not so crazy. Perhaps it is time we start to read between the lines and listen to the bigger message.

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my social media feeds, and saw comments about the young girl that earned the coveted spot of valedictorian at her high school, and then revealed during her inspirational speech how she and her family were actually illegal immigrants. I have since seen her ripped apart by people that do not see anything but black and white. I see both sides of the argument on illegal immigration, which is a heavy topic that I will not go into on this post; however, the comments I saw really left me with a heavy feeling of disappointment in wondering how some people – educated, intelligent people at that – refuse to budge or open their minds to take in all facts and wonder if maybe they could be wrong, or see a new point of view. And, yes – have some emotion, too. At the end of the day, this young woman is a person, a human being.

“What is wrong with people, how can they be so close-minded?” I wondered.

That was before I read about the tragedy in Orlando.

“The largest mass shooting in U.S. history,” the headlines screamed at me, as my heart sank. “50 slain, 53 critically injured in nightclub shooting.” The killer, Omar Mateen, was apparently motivated by homophobia and a suggested connection to ISIS. Meanwhile, Donald Trump took the opportunity to grab some PR and tweet about the massacre – congratulating himself in the process for identifying radical Islam as an issue prior to the shooting. I’m sure the discussions of walls and other contraptions of how to keep immigrants out – you know, people like our grandparents and great grandparents who came here and created the idea of the American Dream – will now run rampant that much more.

Please don’t misinterpret my disdain for Trump as an endorsement for Hillary; I see her as less frightening, but fully understand that she’ll just smile and use polite words as she sticks her knife in America’s back. The truth is, I am absolutely terrified of what is happening in the world and in our country, and I feel really powerless; particularly with the upcoming election. I know many Americans share the same sentiment.

I am devastated by the tragedy in Orlando; I still cry every time I see it on the news or on my feeds. The contorted faces of anguish of the witnesses and victims’ families splashed all over every media outlet are imprinted in my mind. I actually wondered why I was so upset, and chided myself for being silly and emotional. Then I realized I wasn’t being ridiculous; I wish everyone was this upset – they should be. That is the element that is missing in so much of the world today.

Compassion. Empathy. LOVE.

I don’t want to be cynical and believe that love is something that only conquers all in Hollywood-produced romantic comedies. I want to believe that we are all smart and intelligent enough to stand together and fight the evil that is seeping into so many cracks of our society; cracks that are unabashedly making themselves visible, begging for us to do something about it. I pray that somehow we learn to come together and conquer the hate that is threatening to destroy us.

The truth is, we all lost something today; we lose every time a tragedy like this occurs. How many times will we have to lose before we can’t win anymore? I really hope I don’t find out that answer.

I choose love. I hope you will, too.

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