The world looks on in horror as we consider the death of 49 and the injury of 53 people in the Orlando terrorist hate crime shooting that targeted the LGBTQ community.
According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The hate crime that killed and injured so many in Orlando was further fueled by terrorism. Such crimes are meant to instill fear and helplessness. They impact everyone, particularly those who have suffered, those who identify with them and those who love and respect them. At the worst, hate crimes isolate, denigrate, fuel more hate and steal hope.
A compassionate presence in the aftermath of unspeakable horror begins to alleviate suffering because it restores basic human connection and concern. Be it in the arms of a loved one or the sentiments of thousands of messages of sympathy and sorrow to the LGBTQ community, a compassionate presence bears witness to the atrocity and loss. It shows empathy with sorrow and care. It shares the fear and resets respect and love.
I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.Victor Frankl
In the face of continued terrorism and hate crimes we wonder how to abate the fear, how to live with uncertainty. Can the LGBTQ community, which has worked so hard to claim their right to live and love in peace, ever feel safe? Can Muslims horrified by this terrorist hate crime ever feel entitled and safe to be proud Americans?
When the solution to fear and uncertainty is more hate that justifies one group’s oppression of another, there is no connection, restoration or healing. There is instead more fear, violence and hate.
An important step in face of the uncertainty of terrorism and hate crimes is mutual connection. Mutual connection, the relationship of equals, reduces the terror, isolation and helplessness caused by hate and violence. In the aftermath of the Orlando Shooting we connect as equals to heal. We connect because together we can find strength and possibility.
After the Orlando massacre, in Paris, a city that knows the pain of terror, half the Eiffel Tower was lit in the colors of the U.S. flag and the other half in the colors of the rainbow flag.
Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere. Elie Wiesel
How do we move on and find a reason to hope in the aftermath of hate and violent killing?
Holocaust Survivor, Elie Wiesel tells us, “…Just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”
- In the face of atrocity, it is often another person’s words, beliefs, touch, laugh, faith or courage that stirs and helps us hold on to hope.
- We need to find each other to make that happen, to make change happen.
- Often as we grieve, we take turns holding on to hope for each other.
Among all living things, only we humans can envision our futures and play out mental scenarios of how we will make our vision a reality. Viktor Frankl