Tragedy affects each of us differently; grief comes in many forms. If there is one thing that this week has taught me, it is that the idyllic hope that I have clung to for so long is a foolish, naive notion. One that is rooted in a fear of despair.
The horrific loss of life that occurred in Orlando during the early hours of June 12th has haunted me non-stop over the last 3 days. The shooting in Orlando isn’t about me- it is about the victims, their families, their friends, their loved ones. It is about the LGBT+ community, of which I am not apart of and thus do not understand the fear and prejudice its members face. It is about people of color who live lives that I will never be able to fully grasp as my own privilege as a white woman has led me to experience the world differently.
It is not about me. Yet, I still grieve. Why is this relevant? Because I have felt that my grief is a taboo, an unjustifiable feeling that I should not be allowed to feel. My sadness is not good enough. This tragedy has become so politicized and polarized that it has torn the collective “us” apart and many individuals down. In a time of heartbreak and despair, hope is overshadowed by hatred, judgement, and anger.
Central Florida has always been my home- I was born and raised just a short distance south of Orlando. I feel like my home has been tainted by the hatred of another. I am so homesick- I want to go be with my friends and my family who have been directly impacted by this senseless tragedy, but I can’t. Sunday, I sat out in the sun to help me feel closer to home (as the sun always reminds me of Florida) only to end up feeling empty and useless like a naive child seeking home in the imaginary.
I have cried over and over and over again as I have seen the faces of the victims- real people with amazing stories that were cut far too short. The pain and suffering of their families and friends has pierced through my soul. I prayed that I wouldn’t see the picture of a friend flash before me on CNN, only to have my prayers answered with the guilty reminder that this was my own selfish desire to disconnect from this horrific ordeal. I want to do something, anything to help, but I can’t. I cannot donate blood, I have no money to give. I feel useless.
The only thing I have to give is support. I am not a perfect ally- no one will ever be- but I will try my damnedest. I will continue to fight for equality, for love without fear. I will do whatever I can to try and make this world safer, better. Over the last few days, I have watched (in horror) as people have broken down others, claiming that they are not doing enough or that their grief is unfounded, a disgrace, misplaced, or misaligned. I have been appalled at the hate that we have let brew in the face of disaster.
There is already too much hate, judgement, hopelessness, sadness, and fear in this world. In the aftermath of this tragedy, we should acknowledge that we are all imperfect, grieve together, and seek out what is still good in this world. My idyllic hope may be naive and stupid, but it is the only thing that will stand strong in the face of so much pain. Hope is the only thing some of us have left.
Stop hate. Hope.