Without question, our hearts go out to the victims of the recent shooting in Orlando, Florida. Not just to those who were senselessly killed, but to their families, loved ones, and the extended community. As I often share, I have no words.
But I have to question if being compassionate is enough. Shouldn’t there be some action that comes from this tragedy? Kind words and well wishes are a natural response and I know we all truly mean well when we send prayers and well-wishes. When we hope for the sadness of their loved ones to pass. When we encourage healing and the return of our sense of safety. I have to question if all those good intentions lead to an impact of any sort. What do our “hopes” after a tragedy actually provide?
Let’s be brutally honest for just a moment. This latest act of senseless violence is not only tragic, it’s intolerable. For that matter, so are all the senseless deaths that came before this. Maybe we should not make effort to understand, mostly because it’s unnecessary and unjust. This killing was a purely selfish act of hatred. An act put upon others with no regard for human life, moral judgement or decency. There is no rational way to explain it. No intelligent way to understand it. No emotional way to reconcile it. There is no sense in the senseless. It’s just wrong.
I will not give the assailant (“murderer” and far less kind titles come to mind), the value of recognition. He lacks importance. Has no value in this action. He is far less than we all deserve. Let us not try to understand him, give him attention, or unintentionally offer those that align with his actions validation of any kind. His was an ignorant attack on life and our humanity. Any focus on him dishonors the victims here. He is vastly outnumbered by the good of us.
Now, we can turn our efforts to discussion, even debate, on the potential cause of these horrific acts. Argue the “rights” of Americans to protect themselves. Debate religiosity and the freedom to hold what often seem to be the misguided (potentially bigoted and racist) beliefs of a zealot or even promote the far undeserved needs of the mentally ill and emotionally unstable. Still, I’m struggling to find the evidence that this leads to a better, more compassionate, space for us as a society. Senseless things still happen.
So how about this time, we make an effort at “doing” better. Counter horrible action with good. Yes, I want us all to be kind, open-minded, and positive. But we also need to act on those ideals. Do things that are tangible: Donate blood; offer face to face support; teach your children well; make new friends; call out and counter hate; advocate for positive causes; and take to the streets in support of the best in all of us. Seek out ways to make a positive impact and get involved in your community.
More than 50 people lost their lives to this tragedy. Let us honor them by being better.
– Peter Willig, LMFT, FT, Clinical Director