The world has been a rather terrible place recently.
First, the attacks and negativity from the presidential candidates fills the spaces when another national crisis or tragedy doesn’t demand headline space.
Then, the Stanford rapist received an unbelievably lenient sentence, simultaneously highlighting the racism, sexism, and classism in society, as well as the massive holes in our justice system.
And those are just events in the United States, not counting the tragedy, war, and violence around the world.
Now, the terrorist attacks at the gay dance club in Orlando has destroyed innumerable lives and families.
I don’t know how to respond.
Last time there was a mass shooting that swept the nation, I penned my thoughts on gun control and those argument bounce through my head constantly once again, but I don’t need to re-write them.
People say we should mourn first, but I don’t know how to do that.
If I were to mourn with and for all that loss of life, for all the pain the families will experience for the rest of their lives, for the lost dreams and canceled futures, for the empty beds and broken promises and unanswered question–I would never be able to stop. It punches me in the chest and pushes me to a dark place. So much has been lost–I can’t open myself up to the devastating reality for fear of being overwhelmed and incapacitated.
So, I don’t mourn, because I am a privileged that I do not know any of the victims personally. Because I am privileged that their deaths don’t mean I am more likely to be targeted, either for my religion or for my sexuality. Because. I. Am. Privileged.
Instead, I feel anger–fury that simmers below the surface where I can occasionally forget about it, but I remember what happened and it boils back.
I also don’t know how to avoid being political about this. The bloodiest mass shooting in an American history targeted gay latinos out celebrating life on Friday night. Is it possible for there to be a more political attack? These people were not killed because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time; they were murdered because they were celebrating their ethnicity and sexuality.
The shooter was an American. He consumed our mass media, listened to our music, and talked with our neighbors. No immigration policy would have kept him out. No surveillance of religious buildings would have caught him–he didn’t attend service.
He was mentally unstable.
He was abusive.
He did buy the arsenal of weapons within a week of using them.
If only some stricter parameters existed to stop, or even delay, his gun legal gun purchases. We will never know how effective they might have been.
And my fury extends past the shooter to the bought-and-sold legislators to the sound byte Facebook posts to the Christians who regurgitate truisms without feeling their own complicity, seeing how rhetoric dehumanizing the LGBTQ+ community affirms this man’s actions.
You support them today, but will you serve them in your restaurant tomorrow? Will you let them use the restroom in peace? Will you celebrate their successes as well as mourn for their losses? You cannot do one without the other. Do not claim to feel their pain while invalidating their joys.
When it comes to my personal faith, I feel stunned–blindsided. I have no comprehension of what Plan could necessitate this pain. I am left believing in a good God without evidence from the world around me, and I cling to this passage with what little belief I muster:
Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us;
we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
We grope like the blind along a wall,
groping like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among the vigorous as though we were dead.
We all growl like bears;
like doves we moan mournfully.
We wait for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
For our transgressions before you are many,
and our sins testify against us.
Our transgressions indeed are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
transgressing, and denying the Lord,
and turning away from following our God,
talking oppression and revolt,
conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.
Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
and was appalled that there was no intercessor
There is a lot about my faith I am unsure of, but I believe my God is an intercessor. That a lack of justice, truth, and action appalls Them. They took action and call us to do the same.