Reports and updates from Orlando come across the media in a mind-numbing cycle, they point to the level of dysfunction manifest in the human family. Media feeds report the suffering, division, anger, hatred, fear, bitterness, and violence swirling around the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse, a hub for Orlando’s LGBTQ2SIA community. I am deeply grateful that I was with my church community when I learned that this had taken place. That yet another manifestation of intolerance and hatred had exploded in our midst.
The horror and devastation of this massacre aimed directly at the queer community brings several things to the surface of my bleeding Spirit. I am acutely aware that the reactions by various factions of society will range from compassion to sanctimonious pronouncements that the violent horror experienced last evening in Pulse, was the work of a vengeful God. Some factions will attempt to pit against one another two vulnerable communities – namely the queer community and the Muslim community. It is my deeply held hope that voices of queer people of faith from all traditions, the voices of coalitions working for unity, and the voices of interfaith activists, are the voices we will hear and remember from the horror of this time.
The queer community is terrorized every day. As we walk down the street, engage with social media, and go about our daily routines. We experience terror and know it intimately, we are targets of violence simply for being exactly who we are, and having the bold authenticity to live our identities openly in a dangerous and violent world. We are oppressed and terrorized for having the audacity to exist - exactly as the people we were created to be.
Living through times of devastation, it is easy to become jaded, to be cynical and to believe that we as human beings are just built for conflict, that turning upon one another - is just what we do. Woven into the fabric of the human family, are threads of conflict, strife, anger, hatred, and fear. There are two ways to respond to that reality - either by "perfecting" our ability to armour ourselves and strike back - or by doing the very hard work of creating spaces where we can hold the difficult and necessary conversations that must take place to dismantle the dynamics of hate-driven violence.
I believe that our common connection to the Divine - is imbedded in the very core of who we are. We can be wildly inclusive and work boldly together, I have the privilege of being involved in work of that very nature. I believe we must be vulnerable, and find ways in which, we can risk our grief stricken, cracked wide-open hearts to the possibility of reconciliation and wholeness that only lovingkindness can achieve.
As we grieve, as we hold one another with tears, broken hearts, and trembling spirits, do we have the fierceness - in this moment of vulnerability - to lift the gaze of our streaming eyes to look at one another, to reach out our shaking hands, grief stricken hearts, and bleeding spirits to span the gulf that separates us from one another?
Will we ever break free from the cycle of violence? When we look into the eyes of our fellow humans - who will we see? Will we ever experience the transformational love that is possible by looking into the eyes of those who differ from us along lines of race, gender, culture, sex, faith, sexual orientation, etc. - and seeing the face of God?