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love(action): the simple math of change

June 15, 2016

Wow.

I sat here for about twenty minutes with that single word on the screen. I stared, trying to figure out where to go next.

The tragedy in Orlando, where 49 innocent lives were taken away, is all anyone can talk about. You can try to ignore it, but you’ll have to hide under a rock. Even then, make sure it’s a big rock.

It goes like this: someone says “can’t we all just get along?” or the like, and it’s suddenly a raging political debate. I’ve seen friends unable to agree to disagree. The name calling and anger has reached an all new high.

I almost get it. What happened is terrible. It’s horrific. A mother, in the club with her son, who covered him with her body. He survived. She did not. A brother’s last conversation with his sister is a Snapchat, when she realizes the noises she hears are gunshots. She didn’t make it. Dozens of people, huddled in the bathroom, playing dead for hours, in hopes of making it out alive. Anyone with half a heart would be upset by the stories coming out of this. We, as a people, are devastated.

A trans friend reminded us last week to be sensitive to sky high emotions. She apologized on behalf of the LGBTQ community, because, understandably, they are deeply shaken, and it might take a minute to regain footing. For the most part, I agree with her. People are reacting without thinking, which is what happens in the wake of such tragedies. They’re angry. They’re hurt. They’re devastated.

All of us are. Most feel helpless. Our actions seem insignificant against large scale issues. We’re told not to politicize it. Told to hate guns. Told it isn’t about religion. It is political. It is about religion, and like guns or not, they’re here, and they’re often in the wrong hands. In the meantime, what can we do?

Start small. Call your congressperson. They’re easy to track down. Leave a voicemail, expressing your opinion. Volunteer in your community. Give blood. Words of support comfort, but we can all do something, whether it’s related to Orlando or not. Grassroots efforts have been known to grow into pastures.

Action.

A specific group of people was targeted this time, but what about 9/11? Sandy Hook? Virginia Tech? Each one of us is affected. Each one of us needs to help fix it.

Use words with caution. Words sting. Differing opinions make the world a more interesting place, but there are ways of expressing oneself without being nasty. Name calling deflates an argument. No one’s asking you to forget your stance. Education and discussions keep us moving forward. Neither of those is defined as using hate-speech and derogatory terms to get the point across. I can’t imagine a time when we’ll all agree; it’d be impossible. We can get along, though. Be kind to one another.

We don’t have to say the same thing, but what if we all said it the same way? We can’t change unless we change. It can happen, if we, the good guys, stick together.

Love.

rainbow heart

*Originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA http://www.metrospirit.com

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