It probably goes without saying but the events of June 12th in Orlando, Florida were heart breaking to me. My thoughts are all very jumbled and erratic and that probably shows in this article but I wanted to write this all the same. It will stand as another reminder that I could be and should be doing more (see previous article).
I woke up in my usual fashion, got a coffee and grabbed my phone to check social media. Within seconds I was reading of yet another sickening mass shooting. My immediate thoughts were with a few people I consider friends in the local area and with those caught up in such horrific circumstances.
Everyone knows how the day rolled on, with more devastating details coming to light and a terrifying count of those who did not make it. I found myself in tears, on several occasions. I watched the news as a lady begged for news of her child. I read on Twitter of the conversation over text message which was the last conversation between a mother and her son, while he was hiding in the bathroom. A conversation that no mother, father, relative, loved one or friend should ever have to have. I was, and still am, filled with an aching empathy for everyone that was going through it all, in the middle of it over in Orlando. I felt helpless and unable to do anything more than send my wishes, thoughts and love to all involved. I wanted nothing more then to help, even just one person. I just wanted to wrap my arms around them and tell them everything would be OK. I wrote about this a little more in my previous article and I think there is a much bigger discussion about the power of social media in these circumstances to be had.
Sadly, there have been other devastating shootings like this before, but for me, the events in Florida really hit me hard. That isn't to say I haven't been affected by previous terrorist attacks and heinous crimes, nor do I diminish the importance in remembering them too, but this felt personal. At first I was concerned that this feeling may be irrational. I mean, how could I possibly imagine the pain and anguish that those affected were feeling? Nevertheless, I do take this attack personally and thankfully, in the last few days I've found other peers who also feel the same and have written brilliantly about it (Read it here https://tophergen.com/2016/06/14/pride-lgbt-being-brave-my-story/)
In the investigation that has followed (and is still ongoing) some very disturbing revelations have been made, whether they are all true remains to be seen. Where do we even start the discussion to stop this situation ever happening again? Is it the gun laws in America? Is it the power of Religion to influence mankind so far that they will actually kill to uphold their faith and prove their dedication? Is it internalised homophobia? Is it the lack of mental health understanding, diagnosis and treatment? There are so many factors to this discussion before we find a resolution. A discussion that we all need to be a part of.
For me, most importantly, I just want to see a world at peace. That word, peace. It often evokes the image of a world carpeted by daffodils and roses and the entire human race singing around a campfire. That kind of peace is totally unattainable and is certainly not what I am talking about, however nice it sounds. When I use the word peace I probably mean civility.
We are all different and have different opinions and I applaud that. I celebrate anyone who believes in something, even if I completely disagree. I celebrate anyone who has a different lifestyle to my own, even if I think it's unusual. It's the age old adage but if we were all the same life would be boring. Why, for so many people, does the resolution to our differences have to be violence? I totally appreciate that not everyone understands homosexuality. I appreciate that homosexuality goes against everything they have been raised to believe in. I totally understand that they might want to distance themselves from the LGBTQ community because it is something they simply do not like or it scares them. They are human after all and I celebrate their right not to like me. I am more than happy to walk past these people civilly in the street because we have no common ground (apart from the fact we are human). It doesn't affect me. What I can't abide is the notion that because they don't like it or its against their beliefs it gives them a right to use violence, no, not just violence, but murder as a means to end the said behaviour. What on this earth possibly tells them it's ok to kill something because they don't like it or because it's against their beliefs? So many will say it is the religion motivating it but I call horse manure on that notion. No religion promotes murder as a means to settle differences - especially when there are no differences to be settled in the first place. I have my beliefs, they have theirs. Can we not just accept that we have different beliefs and just carry on with our own lives?
Is that kind of peace really too much to ask?