A sunbeam woke me this peaceful Sunday morning; my 6-year-old daughter had let us sleep later than the usual 6:30am wake up. I got up and followed my routine footprints, the bathroom, coffee, checking email. I noticed there were several breaking news alerts. I read them out loud to my husband. “There was a shooting in Orlando,” I say. I read on to the next alert. 20 dead. Oh my God! Shortly after, 50 dead. With a lump in my throat, I watched the news unfold on TV. We learned it was a gay club and the shooter was a Muslim man. All these sensitive words, topics, early in the morning. The largest mass shooting and while it’s geographically seven states down away from me, it could have been down the street. It could have been my nightclub or my son. Mass terrorism is a flaw in humanity.
I don’t like politics. I don’t care to discuss gun laws or the first amendment. I am just a powerless and bewildered citizen, woman, mother. We are more alike than we realize and yet we find reasons to be divisive. We are born innocent beings of light but we are all raised the same. Something along the way breaks anger and hatred seep in and corrode love’s default.
Mothers and fathers are discovering the unimaginable. Victims at the nightclub were not in a war zone, they were celebrating life with singing and dancing. Over the next few days, we’ll learn the victims names, we’ll hear their stories; they will become a part of America’s legacy. They are merely victims of circumstance. None of these 50 people did anything to the killer. He didn’t arrive angry because any one of them wronged him in any way. His act was not one of retribution; it was an offensive strike.
How we react during times of crisis shows our true colors. We want someone to blame, we want to punish an entire race, we want to take sides and make a stand. This isn’t a democratic or republican problem; it’s a human problem. We have desensitized by our devices, obsessed with creating our own tiny islands of bliss, we have forgotten how to develop human connections.
We have lost our sense of empathy. It was at least the 14th time that President Obama spoke to the nation in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting — and the sixth time within just the past year. These incidents are increasing in frequency and we change our Facebook pictures this time into rainbows, we tweet 160-characters of support, we even cry together, but somehow these trivial coping mechanisms only underline how we’ve had to develop a thicker skin to be able to handle the crisis of the day.
I remain helpless in my sadness, terrified of the unknown. I believe in the beauty of humanity and in the overall power of love. I feel naive, reaching for words to justify actions I’ll never understand. As a mother, I know love has the power to start a new life, whereas hatred just ends it.
Mostly, I think, “What the fuck, America? What the fuck?”