I woke up today thinking about the 50.
The 50 who, just two days ago, had lives cut short on a night unexpected. The 50 who never came home, never responded to that last text, never got to say that one last thing. The 50 who have families and friends and loved ones who are waking up today with a hole carved into their lives–one that will always be there.
And as I watch the country grieve I see rainbows on profile photos and gay slogans and anti-religion propaganda because the biggest massacre in our country’s history was at a gay night club, The Pulse. I understand the sentiment. I understand the rainbows. But the thing we need to understand a little bit better is that it has nothing to do with gay or straight, religious or non-religious, male or female, white or non-white.
It has everything to do with hate.
We distract ourselves–and the media distracts us as well–with the reasons behind why triggers are pulled or knives or wielded or bombs go off. “It must be because they were black”, we say. “It must be because he was transgender”. “It was a gay nightclub, that’s why”. “Maybe it’s because he was Muslim”.
And while many of those reasons are valid and might even be a surface reason to why atrocities happen, we owe it to ourselves to look up and see things for what they really are.
Hate is real. It lives and it breathes and it seeks to harm and to destroy and to cast blame. Hate is what finds a reason to kill. Hate is what can be bred into our children from a young age and what festers and grows over weeks or months or years. Hate is pride. Hate is a learned trait.
But yet, so is love.
Those 50 don’t deserve a gay pride flag. They weren’t just “gays gunned down” at a club. They were children of God. They were precious souls with jobs, loved ones, parents, futures and children and memories to make. They were human lives who had to stare down a barrel of a gun aimed at them simply because the one who pulled the trigger was taught hate instead of love somewhere along the line. They were the repercussion of someone’s inability to see the worth of all souls is great.
And America, THAT is our real problem.
We can preach about gun control. We can enact more gay and transgender rights. We can protest in the streets and sign bills or petitions. We can yell and fight and get angry at each other. We can categorize ourselves by “liberal” or “conservative” and draw our lines in the sand.
Or we can recognize the poison just beneath the roots, the poison that is creeping into minds and hearts and seizing control of our young people. We can work together, free of affiliations, to make it stop. But how do we stop it?
That’s the big question.
I don’t think we’ll ever be able to take a mass issue and solve it over night. There will still be massacres. There will still be children who die and hate crimes and suicides caused from bullying. But we can start where we’re at. We can foster and nurture love into our children and into those we have influence over.
We can recognize people for who they are–children of a perfect God–instead of who or what they associate with while on earth. We can make friends with the lonely and redirect the lost. We can write or sing or use our other passions to touch the hearts of those who need it. We can BE love.
Even decades after Martin Luther King Jr., we still have black teens gunned down in senseless acts of violence and people burning crosses in front lawns. But yet we also have children of different races playing in the streets, a black president, bi-racial couples, and black CEOs and entrepreneurs. We have made leaps and bounds and it started with a simple voice. It started with love.
It seems like the most cliche topic ever spoken about and perhaps that’s the reason our society steers away from it now. Instead of going out in search after the one who’s gone astray we build fences to keep it from coming back in. We build walls to keep ourselves safe and stand in fear at the feet of congress asking them to do whatever it takes to protect us from the “bad people”. We perpetuate the real problem by not actively striving to be the real solution. We cower in fear.
Ghandi once powerfully said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world–that is the myth of the atomic age–as in being able to remake ourselves.”
These things will happen–we will lose 50 people at a nightclub or a young singer will be shot outside her concert venue; we will see schools gunned down or families massacred in their homes. These things will happen but we CANNOT become calloused. We cannot explain away reasons or get up in arms with the means to which the act was carried out. We need to recognize it for what it is, and try a little harder to be a little better in a world that is without fail crumbling every day around us.
“Take heart,” the Savior said, “For I have overcome the world.”
We must not forget that. We must overcome.
I love the lost 50. Gay or straight, black or white, male or female, old or young. They are brothers and sisters who were victims of a plague that attacks the heart–and nothing else.
There is nothing more to fight about. Nothing more to wave flags about or protest. Nothing matters except for the fact that we are warriors in a battle that consists of fighting evil every day by being one more piece of light that can overcome it. Yes, you may be on a very small scale. So am I. You’re literally one out of billions.
But it’s just the pull of one moon that creates a thousand waves.
Never let someone tell you that a couple people with love and grace and compassion in their hearts can’t completely change this world.
Because through the course of history, that’s all who ever have.