Response to Pulse Shootings

Last night I had a dream. In it, I was searching a hotel, trying to find someone.

Man shoots an AR-15A woman stopped me in the lobby, saying, “50 people were just murdered, shot to death in Florida. It’s a new record.” Sitting down on a nearby bench, I put my head in my hands and started crying, soul sadness pushing out from my heart in tears, then sobs, then emptiness.

I woke up, morning sun and birdcalls coming through the window. From a speaker near my bed the quiet voices of news radio, voices that help me fall asleep every night, detailed things like “hostages” and “terrorism.”

Some people will want bombs. Some will want diplomacy. Some will buy a gun. Some will plead for new laws. Some will want to close the borders. All will blame “those people” foreign and domestic. All will want action NOW. All will skip sadness and anger, searching for strength in righteousness.

All will forget that it is okay to be sad and angry, that it is okay to mourn the dead without calling for vengeance or action. Do not judge how that life was lived–or how it was lost. If you want to honor the dead, then honor your tears and mourn the loss of each person’s greatest gift: life.

Those who call for vengeance, for fear, and for hate do not honor life because they have not taken the time to honor the sadness about the lives lost. Instead of seeing a life lost, they only see death and its darkness; they only see the end and not the life. They lie to themselves and to others in an attempt at control. They say they have the solution, but this is a solution for death, not life.Meat Skeleton

As isolated emotions, fear, vengeance, and hate cloud the mind, leading to irrational decisions in the name of “do something now.” Fear only generates more fear, vengeance only more vengeance, and hate only more hate.

However, if we spend time first being sad and angry without acting, we come to know these emotions as strong and honest. Sadness and anger generate perspective. Perspective, a unique blend of time and information, helps us measure our reaction and create an honorable space for mourning then action (the opposite of reaction).

In this space, we see that the whole of a life lived is a million times bigger than petty, short-term vengeance and hate. By honoring their life, this then becomes a space where we truly honor our dead.

This is the space where true strength lives.

I turned off the radio and crawled out of bed. In my living room, two dogs wagged their tails and my pregnant wife kissed me good morning. I will be celebrating our life by being sad and mourning the loss of others. I will not be listening to the news for a few days.

Dogs on the trail in Forest Park OregonI do not need some biased politician or angry newscaster telling me how to feel. I do not need them to serve me some simple “solution” to sooth my fragile fear and hatred. People look to them for “solutions” when we all know damn well it’s never that simple, that these same, tired “solutions” will never fix anything: these solutions only propagate hatred and murder in the name of righteousness.

For now, I just want to be sad, again, about the tragic loss of life and grateful for 41 years of mine.


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