Nothing blinds us to reality quite so much as the narratives through which we interpret facts and events.
On Sunday Morning, over one hundred people were killed or wounded in the most deadly domestic terror attack in our nations’ history. In Orlando, folks jumped into action and mourning, giving blood and giving supplies while small and corporate businesses opened their doors during off hours in order to help. “We were just attacked” was their reality and narrative. Wounded neighbors lined the street outside a local nightclub. Bodies cluttered the floors inside the club. The closer you are to reality, the more real it is to you and the more the event defines its’ own narrative.
Meanwhile, outside Orlando, the nation immediately began to point the finger, assign blame, debate identity politics, capitalize politically, and lament those who were “really to blame”: Gun Owners, The 2nd Amendment, Muslims, Christians, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Republicans, Democrats, Refugees, Foreigners, Barack Obama, our “Open Borders”, and America herself were all pointed to as the real evils behind this tragic event. How any of these people or issues or artifacts could be to blame is beyond me, but our narratives clouded our vision and directed our attention. We didn’t care about the dead and wounded, the victimized or the grieving.
Over the last two days I’ve watched as Americans ripped each other apart on television, in the newspapers, and across social media. The anger at one another continues to grow to this very day while we point our fingers and issue our talking points and levy our judgments across the board. Where are the crusades to raise money for the victims of this tragedy? Where is the unity we’re all supposed to feel when our countrymen are gunned down by a madman motivated by hate and, probably, not just a little mental illness?
The more we are attacked, the more divided we become. That is the mark of a weak and vulnerable people.
So while the self-righteous point their fingers and make their demands, I thought I would take this opportunity to draw attention to some things you can actually do to help the victims of the Orlando tragedy.
If you care…
Local LGBT civil rights organization Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page to support the Pulse nightclub shooting victims and their families. More than $1.7 million has already been donated as of Monday afternoon. Donate here.
CrowdRise has also launched a larger relief fund supporting a number of charitable causes, both those helping the victims of the Orlando shooting, as well as those working long-term to address issues of inequality and gun safety. Donate here.
A variety of local Central Florida LGBT organizations have partnered to run an emergency hotline and grief counselors at the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. They have also set up a GoFundMe page, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Orlando shooting victims and their families. Donate here.
For those who do not feel comfortable donating to politically motivated organizations – you can give blood, reach out to local Orlando Churches and Charities, or simply take some time out of your day to pray for the victims and their families. In the end, prayer and solidarity aren’t insignificant things to offer those in need. Prayers may be free, but they are one of the most valuable things you can offer another human being. (As a recipient of a great many prayers, I can attest to the fact that it means a great deal).
If we cannot offer any of these positive and proactive offerings, I would ask that we would at least refuse to take political advantage of a human tragedy, that we would stop pointing fingers and throwing stones, and that we would stop attempting to use the death of our fellow Americans to help us get elected to various political offices.