In all of the mass shootings that have happened in the last decade or so, I haven't felt much. I hate to say that, but the distance from these occurrences has just made it hard for the feelings to penetrate me. I knew I was sad, I knew I was distraught, I knew this was terrifying, and everything else that comes with tragedy. But the feelings weren't viscerally there. I can't explain it.
I remember vividly when Virginia Tech happened. I am from Virginia, it seemed very close to home. I was 11 and at my friends' house playing a computer came when they're mom came into the room, talking on the phone and mentioning how many people were dead. At that point I believe it was 11. And I replied callously with "Well, I'm glad I'm not there." I didn't understand. I didn't understand what this loss of life was, how needless it was, and how uncommon it was--or was supposed to be.
Back in 2007, this was uncommon. Now, sadly, it's not. And as an adult, every time these shootings have happened, I've known the pain that the world was pulsing with, that our country was rippling with, but I didn't truly feel it.
But today, I've been emotional. I sat watching the Tony Awards, crying with a strange cocktail of happiness, longing, love, sadness, and just things that were achingly real. I don't know entirely why, because I'm not the easiest crier. I'll chalk it up to period hormones.
Something about today, though, has broken me open. I watched the videos about Orlando, read the articles, and cried. Really cried for the first time ever at one of these events since 9/11--which I don't honestly think that I cried at, but I cry every year now for reasons unimportant to this post. I'm filled with such sadness for our country, for the victims, for their families. And I'm angry. I want to be able to just take everything that is wrong, condense it into a long, thin stick, and snap it into little tiny pieces that I can crunch under my heel until the remnants look like candy dust.
This violence is senseless. It's needless. We cry tears that don't need to happen. We shed blood that could still be coursing through someone's live, virile body. And the hypocrisy of people in our country is just stunning. That's where the anger is coming from for me. To see anti-LGBTQAI people claiming that they're praying for people that they were condemning in their legislature just yesterday. Maybe even minutes before they heard the news. And now you're praying for them? No. You would never have truly loved these people as they were when they were alive. You care about the people that they could have been; people like you. But they weren't. They were different from you, and you hated them. Just to a far lesser degree than the twisted idiot who killed them.
It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking that these events don't change people's thinking. Yes, they do manage to change us for a while, to make us remember to love who we love a little harder for a couple more days. But it doesn't change the beliefs that we already had. Please. We have to start letting things penetrate us. Today, this penetrated me and made me cry. Full tears for the community this impacted and for our country and the turmoil that is just needless.
Yes, we are big. It's hard to unite our ideologies when we are so big. And you know what, different ideologies are great. They're beautiful and they're the only way to keep a conversation going and not simply fall into complacence. The problem is labels and political parties and extremism.
I'm going to urge a few things right now. First: love people you don't know. Don't take this opportunity to speak hate towards people different from you. Don't speak hate towards politicians who are just trying to do what they think is best for people. Just because you think that they're wrong doesn't mean that they're evil or that their agenda was born out of hatred. That is spreading the wrong message. Try to understand and speak rationally from that place of understanding and love.
Second: speak up positively. If you do have a message that you want to spread and you're not wanting to verbally attack people to do it, contact your representatives. Vote for the candidate who you believe to be the best. I hope that candidate to be one for LGBTQAI rights and anti-gun measures. Speak up when someone says something racist or sexist or violent; don't let those seemingly careless slips by without reminding people that that's where hate starts.
Third: Give. Give love. Give blood. Check the mark for organ donor on your license. Give to charity. Give love, give love, give love.
Fourth: Indulge feelings. Mental instability is on the rise. So many people are hurting in ways that bandages and stitches can't fix. Teach children feelings--especially those of sympathy and compassion for others. Let our young men emote without guilting them into society pressures. Recommend therapy not as an insult to people, but as a commonplace behavior like going to a physical doctor.
Just teach love and share love and be love. There is so much we can do by just being the best people that we can be. Every good action sends more love into the world. Don't allow hate speech around you. Change your rhetoric to be positive to the people around you, those not around you, and yourself. Love even those you feel you should hate. Especially them. Even Donald Trump, or Hillary, or whoever you think you should be hating. Disagree healthily when it comes to it. But these people aren't trying to hurt people. They are as byproducts of their actions, but that isn't their goal.
But you can hate this murderer in Orlando who I shall keep unnamed. People like him deserve to be unmentioned and all but forgotten. We only remember so that we can assure that tragedies like this stay in history and in fiction. Not in our future.
Last of all, but most important of all: I love you. I would do anything I could for you. I love you.