Love To Our Gay Sisters and Brothers in Orlando

Another mass shooting in America.  This time in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida.  50 dead.  53 wounded.  The largest mass shooting in our nations history.

The pattern is familiar.  A young man, age 29.  Disconnected from family.  Drawn to violence to legitimize himself and to vent his rage at the expense of others.

With easy access to an assault weapon he walks into a crowded club and mows innocent people down.  HIs weapon of choice?  An AR-15 style assault rifle and handgun.  A rifle whose only purpose is to inflict as much carnage as quickly as possible.

photo of grief

I’ve already written  many articles calling for common sense gun laws. If this doesn’t wake us up what will? I’ve asked the same question before….after Sandy Hook, after Roseville, Oregon, after drive by shootings in Chicago…

We live in an incendiary culture that legitimizes us and them thinking.  This political season in particular seeks to separate groups one from the other.   The Republican nominee for president boasts of building walls, mass deportation of undocumented neighbors and barring people simply because of their religion.

Easy access to assault weapons and bombastic political announcements have one thing in common.  Each depends upon fear to survive.

The billion dollar weapon industry in the USA is contingent upon ginning up fear.  Fear of the other.  Fear of being out of control.  Fear of being attacked by those who make us uncomfortable and who we don’t know.

Mr. Trump’s entire candidacy is built on fear.  Fear of Mexicans, fear of Muslims, fear of Syrians, fear of strong women, fear of people who don’t think and act like us.

Details are still coming in as to what inspired this young man (a U.S citizen) to do what he did.   Prior to the killing he called 911 and said he was allied with ISIS.  That he chose a gay night club to kill and maim is not a surprise and reflects a homophobic strain that continues to do its work in our nation and around the world.

What can we do?  I suggest we do an act of spiritual jujitsu, where we meet the hatred and violence of our attacker with forgiveness and love.

My comment may sound bazaar and hapless.  Some would say: ‘We must meet violence with violence.  We must show strength not weakness.’

The fear mongers would have us hoard weapons and build walls.  But what has this ever solved?

Two thousand years ago a prophet named Jesus, wept over Jerusalem and said: ‘If now, even now, you knew the things that make for peace.’

What makes for peace? Forgiveness, bridge building, selfless service, tolerance, respect, advocacy for the oppressed and forgotten (including alienated angry young men).

Jesus also said, ‘put away your sword’.  Not a stretch to think he’d include assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in his admonishment.

Here’s another idea.  In this polarized political season, let’s hold each other accountable.  Let’s make a pact that we will disagree with as much civility as we can muster.

Tonight I’ll stand with my neighbors in our city park.  We will light candles and offer prayers for the people of Orlando.  I’ll pray too for the tortured soul of the assailant.  On June 25th I’ll march with my church in the Gay Pride Parade in Salem, MA.

Such symbolic acts may seem insignificant in the midst of the fear and pain of our time.  Yet I hold onto the hope that love will ultimately have the final word.  I can’t do otherwise.

How about you?







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