A woman marches in the 2012 Toronto Gay Pride Parade. (Mark Blinch / Reuters All rights reserved.)
Let us not lose sight of the fact that this horrible attack took place in the South, after years of demonizing gays and lesbians. This is where we have had years of campaigns against same-sex unions, and the more recent absurd bathroom bill (HB-2) that targets trans citizens. We know that violent, xenophobic language closes the gap to violent action. As the president of the advocacy group GLAAD states:
“There were over 100 anti-LGBT laws rulings passed this last year and that creates an environment of hate, which leads to discrimination and that turns to violence. This is a cycle we are seeing.”
Let us return to the fierce urgency of compassion. Yes, the whole world has seen pictures of the killer, and so many have turned into amateur detectives, doing psychological profiles of the killer based on the few clues available. Instead, let us shine the light on the good and the selfless. Let us see the thousands standing in line to give blood, let us remember the marine with the very Muslim name, Imran Yousef, who saved the lives of 70 people at the Pulse club. Let us see the prayer vigils, let us recognize the courage of the many who are standing up in compassion and dignity, pleading no more, never again.
Yes, it is those of us who have tasted suffering and pain who recognize pain and suffering in others. It was the eloquent sister of one of the Chapel Hill slain Muslims, Suzanne Barakat, who reached out to the Pulse victims:
“The cure for it is the medicine of love, kindness, and compassion.”
We all need this medicine of love. More than ever, we need this medicine with all of our hearts.
Given our gun addiction, given the violence that is rampant in our society, we need this kindness, this compassion, each and every day.
We have work, serious, long-term work of healing ahead of all of us. The work of compassion and healing remains.
May it be, may it be that this light enters us through the wounds of Orlando.