50 dead, 53 injured. Traumatized survivors. Doubled-over loved ones. A city, a state, a nation reeling in disbelief and horror. The worst mass shooting in US history. This kind of tragedy brings us to our knees. And it gives us pause.
What can we do after Orlando?
The short answer: love more. It’s that simple. And it’s also that complicated.
What does this love look like?
Love is the scores of Orlando residents standing in the heat waiting to give blood and wanting to share their life force so others may live.
Love is a nation in shock and mourning, pleading for no more senseless deaths by questioning, once again, the rationality and sense of easy access, especially by the disenfranchised and unstable, to assault weapons. This lethal weaponry has led to a river of tears and heartache and to what avail?
Love is explaining to our children that the violence against others for being perceived as different is never OK. Hatred, aggression and bullying are unacceptable responses to any members of the LBGT community. We teach our children that tolerance and acceptance are the viewfinders with which to understand differences. No one should be murdered for the way they choose to love. Period.
Violence never fails to leave collateral damage and trauma begets more trauma. Like the stone that is thrown into the pond, the ripples extend out farther and farther leaving a wake of fear and panic. Love is the person who comforts and soothes those who have been triggered and re-traumatized by this latest violence.
The sadness of this massacre spills out and spreads like a drop of ink on paper. This heartbreak is painfully present, raw and tender. Love is understanding that sudden death can be crazy-making. Nothing is the same; life had been turned upside-down. Love holds the space for grief and loss to be realized.
Love is planting seeds and teaching our children how to express their emotions, develop healthy self-esteem and deal with their anger in a constructive way.
Love is helping our vulnerable heal and become whole by making mental health available and affordable for those who struggle.
Love is bearing witness to tragedy and sending prayers, good energy and blessings – the seemingly invisible and yet, most potent of actions that helps to alleviate the psychic pain and confusion circling our world.
Love is doing acts of service and kindness. That goodness, compassion, generosity of spirit is a kind of light. And the more light we share on this planet with one another the more darkness is diminished.
In other words, we love by being our best selves. We love by showing compassion, tolerance and acceptance as we strive for peaceful co-existence with one another.
The barriers we humans erect in our minds and in our hearts are no longer viable. The bottom line is that we are all connected. In essence, we are all one. We are all part of this blue-green planet bobbing along in the multiverse. What one does impacts the other. Everything is intertwined and interdependent. What we do and how we respect and honor ourselves and one another becomes the good medicine to help heal the whole.
Love is – and always will be – the answer.