In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, a three hour nightmare, I’ve realized that the moment it occurred and was made public was a moment that changed America forever.
I hope that none of us loses sight of what’s really important in this tragedy. These people matter. The 49 who were massacred. They’re important.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 | Stanley Almodovar III, 23 | Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 | Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 | Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 | Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 | Luis S. Vielma, 22 |Kimberly Morris, 37 |Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 | Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 | Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 |Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 | Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 | Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 | Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 | Martin Benitez Torres, 33 | Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 | Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 | Amanda Alvear, 25 | Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 | Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 | Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 | Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 | Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 | Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 | Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 | Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 | Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 | Cory James Connell, 21 | Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 | Luis Daniel Conde, 39 | Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 | Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 | Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 | Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 |Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 | Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 | Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27 | Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 | Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 | Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 | Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 | Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 | Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27 | Paul Terrell Henry, 41 |Antonio Davon Brown, 29 | Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 | Akyra Monet Murray, 18 | Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
The 53+ people who were injured, maimed, and hurt matter and are important. Their families and friends are important. The first responders, the police, and the nurses and doctors at the hospital who interacted with them, tried to save them, watched them die, are important. The people outside the club who watched it happen are important. The 9-1-1 operators who answered those calls are important. The off duty officer who was outside and realized something was happening and was the first to engage is important.
As a Christian, as a Catholic, I believe that above all else, we need to remind each other to make it a priority to choose love, compassion, empathy, generosity, loyalty, humanity, kindness, open mindedness, duty to our family and communities. This is my call to Faith. This is my call to Action. The only way we can make sense of things: remembering those who have died. Praying. Giving blood. Giving hugs. Communicating with Equality Florida (click here). Letting our LGBTQI+ family and friends and coworkers know that we support them, love them, need them… ESPECIALLY when we’re Christian… ESPECIALLY when we’re Catholic.
We all have such a capacity for love that most of us are still learning to tap into the potential of it. Well, it’s time to put down the chisel and grab the wrecking ball. We need to break open the dam and forget about the flood gates; we need to forget about holding it all in.
We’re a nation that is filled with diversity, and therefore intersectionality. We all experience the same emotions and have the same needs.
Everyone has an opinion, and they’re clamoring for their voices to be heard about what they believe is the most important thing. I have some opinions. I’m not so sure they’re lining up with what other people are talking about. I don’t really care. It’s my blog. I can talk about what I believe is important, especially based on what I’m experiencing in my home with my children.
I’m trying to imagine how hard it must be for the people who were actually involved. But I imagine the people I love who are in the LGBTQI+ community. I imagine my daughter’s friends that in that community, and how she feels when they tell her about their fears and grief. I imagine them going on vacation to Orlando, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I imagine it happening here, in a place that’s supposed to be a safe zone for them when “out there, somewhere outside” isn’t so safe. Fear and grief clutch at my heart, and again, I try to imagine that feeling in someone with more ties to the community. Those are the people who deserve the empathy and connection and consideration. Those are the people who need protection, love, generosity, caring, and a sense of safety equal to that of what anyone else feels.
I have a difficult time with the people who choose to identify with the murderers, to the point that they become apologists and empathize with them. In this instance, there are vile people out there cheering him on believing he should have been hailed as a hero.
I don’t want to empathize with the shooters or those assholes who do.
Most people in the world agree to live by the codes, laws, mores, and social systems established in the societies they live in. Most people who don’t enjoy the society and have the will to change it go about changing the system legally and without violence. Most people live in a world where they care about their community as well as their core family.
We need to accept that we belong to more than our simple family units; we belong to our towns and cities, our states, our nation and yes, we belong to the Global Community. We all need each other. We have more similarities than we do differences. No single one of us deserves more than another, or is worth more than another. We form closer bonds with our parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends, and that makes them important… but our value as human beings is all the same. Our needs are all the same. We’re all equal in God’s eyes, and so we should all be equal in each other’s eyes. We must be. God loves us all. Maybe he loves all of us enough for himself, but I believe that we were all put here to love and be loved. To respect and be respected. To learn. To build relationships. To see God in each other. To see ourselves reflected in others. To appreciate where we are, and the wonders of the Earth and the Universe and each other. To learn as much as we can before we look forward to the big pearly gates. Doing all of this while still honoring a relationship with Jesus, with God, while accepting everyone BECAUSE OF their differences can only fill our lives with more love.
I’m certainly not perfect. I have a hard time with this. I try my best to at least “not hate.” I may not love murderers or Donald Trump but as my daughters point out, “It’s not Christian to hate them. Jesus would say don’t hate anyone.”
So trust me, it’ll be hard for me to follow certain aspects of my own Call to Faith and Call to Action, but I beg you to try with me. Please. Let’s pay it forward with a kind act each day. It shouldn’t be a token act, but it doesn’t have to be a grande gesture all the time either. It SHOULD come from the heart and be genuine.
I’ve written far more than I intended to write. I had hoped to be much more succinct. My brain is just so full up. So sad. I don’t know what to do with it all.