Image: Banksy; an article about this graffiti artist here.
Sometimes the hate of one brings out all the scars of the hate that has been with humanity from the beginning as it did in the Orlando shooting earlier this month. The discrimination, the disenfranchisement, the objectification, the religious rifts, the haves and the have nots. All of these age old faults glowed red-hot, hurting, aching, displayed by the senseless terror of one gunman opening fire on an entire frenzy of living, breathing, loving, loved, and beloved human beings.
It’s all buzz right now. The re-ringing in our ears of the recent attack at the airport in Turkey. 42 more human lives gone. The shouting blonde, Tomi Lahren, on The Blaze, telling the President of the United States that he is an idiot for not labeling this act radical Islamic terrorism. The derision and hatred carried in her bitter blue eyes as she excoriated President Obama and Muslims generally parallels the hatred of that act– cold, intolerant, killer.
The southern black writer, Kiese Laymon, who capsules Mateen as a radical American homophobe in his fearless piece about America’s complicity in violence and continued violence by scape-goating radical movements rather than addressing the unique American-ness of this act. The dangerous complications of our time-honored traditional culture of big gun boasting, small gun possession, which allows semi-automatic weapons to be brandished in public places.
Laymon writes, “We need the American media to tell its citizens the truth. Omar Mateen was a 29 year old radical American homophobe with a history of domestic abuse, who likely found some fertile ground for his American homophobia, misogyny and abusiveness in Isis propaganda.”
I understand the direct importance, immediacy, and need for us to find out who this man is– Omar Mateen. To know and to label him. We try to climb inside his mind and parse out all the evil pieces. Maybe Omar Mateen is all of these things– Islamic radical, radical American homophobe, homosexual who found self-loathing in the intolerance he faced on every side– religiously, societally, internally.
Maybe he is every one of them all rolled into one. I do not dismiss the importance of naming his hate, calling on it and calling it out. We may never know the true hybrid of his evil, we are only left with the wake of its bloody hell. But does this mean that we stand by powerless at crimes against all of humanity, crimes filled with the deepest hatred? I believe we are not powerless, we are called upon to love harder, love more deeply, love with vehement care for others, the other.
We live in a time where the faces of those killed– shot down, mowed down, exploded indiscriminately– are juxtaposed directly next to those of their killers. Selfies of a man in NYPD tourist shirts taken in the green light of his home bathroom, or shadowy figures running with a semi-automatic weapon away from a security guard before detonating a suicide bomb. It makes the horror seem that much closer, that much more real.
The horror was real for those in Orlando that night, one son hiding in a bathroom and texting his mother for help. That horror continues for their loved ones, families, and friends left behind in the wake of a hate so raw, enraged, and consuming. The horror was real at the Ataturk airport when gunman opened fire on the entrance and then detonated bombs that killed 42 people and counting, and wounded over 239.
It’s in the eyes. That’s where you see the humanity, the love, the life, the joy, the light, the kindness, the yearning, the family, the friends, the potential, the soul, the heart, the hope. The eyes that are forever closed now. I see it all in the eyes of the victims of Orlando and Istanbul, humanity’s struggle for peace.
Tributes of love, honor, grief, suffering, terror, and utter despondency wrap around us on our Facebook feeds. What will we do with these poems of life and loss? How can we turn their lives into an energy that gives rise to new waves of care and compassion?
We need to reach and grapple with the patterns of love and empathy we find lacking within ourselves. Or we will continue to reach and grasp at straws of understanding trying to grapple with a hate that will never sustain us. “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” There is nothing to understand in hate, we must only fight to keep it from normalizing within us.
In the heart-rending words of Micah Player whose art piece mourning for Turkey is also linked below,
“With so many horrific attacks stacked on top of one another, again and again and again… I confess to the horrible sense that my heart is growing numb. I cannot allow that to happen. This cannot ever be normal. It will never be another day.
Horror, blood, hate, mindlessness. That is not the world I will ever accept as the one I live in. Love and sorrow for the courageous people of Turkey, shattered and murdered yesterday. Peace for us all. Someday.”
These acts of aggression, and hatred, and bloodshed cannot ever be seen as normal– cannot ever cause us to be numbed to the senseless acts of death, destruction, and terror.
Let the tears flow. Let the prayers ascend. Let the fires of remembrance be lit, and never let to rest.
Let the world of loving, understanding, empathetic, charitable, caring, giving, nurturing, uplifting, and enlightened men and women ban together in solidarity against this kind of hatred.
Let us value the beauty of one another and fill up our cups with the reality of each other. May they run over with love– our cups of life. May we let care for our fellow brothers and sisters of every gender, race, creed, sexuality, political persuasion, and religion be alive in us.
Please, let us be advocates for life, for civil discussion, for the pursuit of joy and peace for those around us, for love, for tolerance, and for the end of hatred and bloodshed across our nation and world.
Love. Please, love.