Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Prayer for Orlando

I am not a member of the LGBTQ community.  But that doesn’t matter.  I am not from Florida, don’t know anyone from Orlando, and have no personal loved ones who have been directly affected by the mass shooting that took so many innocent lives this past weekend.  But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I am human, and those who died were human.  What matters is the ease with which one individual was able to destroy so many lives, tear apart so many families, put an entire community in a state of fear, and a nation in shock.  What matters are the images of the mothers on TV, scared out of their minds because they don’t know where their children are.  What matters are the people whose friends were shot in front of them on a night that was supposed to be full of fun.  What matters are the people being carried, bleeding and afraid, and placed into the back of police trucks to be taken to the ER.  What matters is that this type of horror has happened before, and will continue to happen as long as people deny the hate that continues to permeate our society.  When we let out churches and religious leaders preach hate, we let the individuals who commit these atrocities feel justified in their crimes.  When we let our political leaders, our presidential nominees, discriminate against groups of people, encourage their voters to commit violence against the opposition, and publicly insult anyone who doesn’t agree with their point of view, we are compliant in the perpetuation of a society that turns its back on peace and compassion to embrace hate and violence.  When we try to control people’s love, try to tell people who they can and cannot love just because it makes us uncomfortable, we are the ones who take on a darkness in our soul.  If we actively work against love, it can only be hate that we brew.  That’s what makes it shocking, but not uncommon, for one disturbed individual to obtain a gun he shouldn’t be allowed to have and storm into an elementary school, a college, a church, or a nightclub to gun down innocent people.  When we allow a society of hate and fear to control us, to dictate our actions, we make it easier for these types of hate crimes and terrorist acts to take place.  We need to do better as a whole.  We all need to take responsibility for what happened in Orlando this weekend.  We need to wake up and see what our fear, our hatred, our distrust of others is doing to our world and our fellow humans.  It is with this thought in mind that I offer up this prayer:

I pray for the innocent victims of Orlando.  I pray for their families, their friends, and especially for those who claim to hate their community.  I pray that their hearts are profoundly changed, that they see how much harm their hate truly causes.  I pray that they realize that love and acceptance is the only way to truly achieve peace in this world.  I pray that individuals who harbor such darkness inside them that they lash out with no regard for the sacredness of human life come to understand how truly terrible their actions are.  I pray they realize that they are not “fixing” things with their actions, they’re not carrying out any type of message from God, and that they’re not teaching people “a lesson.”  They are simply making themselves into monsters, and destroying lives along the way.  I pray that the fear doesn’t overwhelm us.  I pray that, instead, we grow stronger in our commitment to the message of equality, the message that compassion and love are more powerful than fear and hate.  I pray that we each find the strength to stand up for what is right and good, and the courage to not turn our faces away when we see the hate and discrimination that takes place around us.  I pray that our country stops tearing itself apart, that our leaders start thinking about what is best for the people and not just for themselves, and that no community within our society ever feels isolated or targeted again.  I will hold this prayer in my aching heart for as long as it takes for it to come true. Amen.

Erin B.