There’s a phone ringing somewhere in the room, followed by another, and another. The constant chirping and buzzing, the occasional song chosen by the owner to represent their own or the caller’s personality, all just noise amidst the chaos. Echos of “Where are you,” “Are you okay,” and “Please, just call me back,” vibrate through cell phones, spreading contagiously across the floor as each family member or–sadly, more likely–friend, holds their breath and hopes that their prayers might be answered.
The first responders dance somberly to this song, moving judiciously amongst the bodies–each a person with vast interests, fears, and goals–searching ceaselessly for survivors, working tirelessly to find someone they can aid. Each ring going unanswered pulsing through their own hearts.
We are moving forward as a nation and as a world. We are seeing and recognizing, some for the first time, that the people around us who do not share our skin tone, our beliefs, our gender or our sex are all just that–people. We fight everyday to remind those around us of our humanity, of the personhood of those with whom we may not agree or relate. And then tragedy strikes.
I do not hate this man who murdered 50 people. Fifty beautiful, unique, people–some wild, some reserved, some who read, some who sang, some with families or friends-who-became-family waiting at home for them and none who left home that night expecting a mass shooting. I do not hate him because hate is what got us here. Hate is what twisted his insides to the point where he felt nothing more than it eating away at him. Hate is pitchforks and torches and shouts of “Kill the Beast!” Hate leads to death and torment. Hate is born of fear, and we fear the unknown.
God is love, you guys. God is unminding, unbiased, unrelenting love. This is what should radiate around us, not fearful calls of worry and despair. Not people searching desperately for any word that the people they love are okay, only to be given no such relief. Only to have their calls ring out in an empty club, falling on deaf ears.
Here is what I know. I know that my heart beats today as it always has. That each beat carries life-sustaining fluid throughout my body, which is intricate and awe inspiring. That I, as a person, have thoughts, feelings, experiences, actions, regrets, drive, courage, fear, hope, and love, all which I can offer to others freely. Knowing this, I know that others can offer me the same honor, exposing me to who they are and maybe giving me a piece of themselves with which I can improve myself. How do we not see this? At this point, if there is anyone for whom you hold hate, then you’re doing yourself and the world a disservice. You have a duty to yourself and to society to open your heart and examine why you hate. You cannot blame ignorance anymore. You cannot blame belief. You cannot blame anyone but yourself if you choose to see other people as somehow lesser than you. Your heart beats today as it always has, the same as mine, but not the same as the fifty people whose hearts stopped early yesterday morning because one man chose hate.
Choose love, every single time you have the chance. Choose love and let that be your pulse.