I refuse to be helpless. Heaven knows I’ve felt it, as many of us have, in the aftermath of Orlando. Helpless, an emotion captured so well by a friend in this post. Heaven knows it’s tempting to wallow, lost in hand-wringing, or rage, lost in the pointless hatred of some faceless enemy out there, anywhere but here, inside, looking back at me in the mirror.
I’m on my way to Orlando today. The company I work for, among other things, provides services to those who have been impacted by disruptive, potentially traumatic events. So I’m going to Orlando because I can help provide those services, and because I can help coordinate what is a massive effort to reach out to so many who are grieving and bewildered.
That’s the official reason. But the truth is that I could have said no to this. In fact, I could have just stayed quiet and I would be going home instead.
No, I n truth I’m going because it’s something I can do. Something I can offer, some way I can remind myself that I am not helpless in the face of the mountain of problems and the river of hatred that created the conditions for this latest affront to our humanity, the murder of 49 innocents, the gunshot wounding of as many more, and the emotional wounding of countless othere.
I must go, to save my sanity, and my humanity.
My social media feeds have blown up with memes pointing in every direction, some blaming the victims, some blaming the killer, some blaming his religion, most blaming whoever said the last thing they thought stupid. “It’s a gun issue, plain and simple;” “It’s a hate crime against the LGBT community, plain and simple;” “It’s Islamic terrorism, plain and simple;” “It’s a mental health issue, plain and simple;” each refrain ending in an implied “stupid,” or some worse epithet, aimed at anyone with whom we might disagree.
On the news, the talking heads analyze and labor over information tidbits that we, seeking some way to grasp the incomprehensible, worry over like birds diving for leftover crumbs at a sidewalk table. Try as we might to stop ourselves from getting lost in that craziness, we cannot help ourselves. Any theory is better than not knowing where the next tragedy will strike – and strike it will, as we all know.
In the end, we give up, convinced there is nothing we can do. The world goes back to “normal,” that very special state of insanity in which the conditions that bring us Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernadino, and now, Orlando, are allowed to rage on ad endless nauseum. So many problems to solve, so overwhelming. It makes me tired. I want to hide.
There is nothing plain, or simple, about what happened in Orlando. It was a hate crime, a deep, ugly, heinous expression of hatred for the LGBT community. It was also the act of a desperate, almost certainly mentally unbalanced man, whose particular inward hatred exploded outward. It was also the act of a radicalized Islamist, who believed he was acting at the behest of an organization that, inarguably, hates and vows to destroy the infidels, among whom we number. It also was carried out with brutal efficiency because of the easy availability of weapons whose sole reason for existing is the destruction of life.
It’s complicated, and fixing things is going to be long, and complicated, and hard. So what? We can all start by doing what we can, where we can. In fact, we can only start by doing what we can, where we can.
Do yourself a favor and look in the mirror tomorrow morning and ask yourself, “what will I do today to make the world a better place?”
Ask yourself, “what can I do to save my sanity, and my humanity?”
If not for you, do it for the rest of us.
Dr Les Kertay