video by Purple, Rock, Scissors

I’d like to say this week has been filled with ups and downs, but – in all honesty – it’s been mostly down. You know how it’s said that you never think it’ll happen to you until it does? Well that goes for hometowns, too.

When I was in high school and something bad happened in our country, we would discuss the possibility of it happening closer to us. Our answer was simple: No one will ever want to do that, there are places far more “important.” Plus, we’re home of the Happiest Place on Earth. That counts for something, right? I don’t think we ever imagined someone would choose Orlando as the site of mass carnage just because they didn’t like our friends, our schoolmates, our coworkers.  

I woke up this past Sunday morning to a Facebook newsfeed filled with friends pleading for their friends to call them, text them, update their statuses…I began fearfully listing friends that could have possibly been there and thinking of friends who lived out of state but knew frequenters of the club. And I became thankful, oh so thankful, for the Facebook safety check.

It’s a strange feeling to know your town is now included in that exclusive list of mass shooting sites. This week I’ve been tired and angry, overwhelmed and sad. I’ve snapped at people who ignored the tragedy, I’ve watched helplessly as others I know argued and name-called without a care in the world. I had a lot in my head that I wanted to write down, but none of it seems sufficient. So I’ll leave it at this:
 

To the communities of Newton, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino (and the list goes on):

I’m so sorry if we, as a society, ever minimalized your grief or if we took your pain and made it a platform without asking. I’m sorry if we argued if the police did enough or read the conspiracy theories instead of the facts. And I’m sorry, so sorry, if we let the memories of those lost drift to the back of our minds too soon. We didn’t know – and I’m sorry.

 

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.
JFK, “American University Speech,” June 10, 1963

 

If you’re looking for some way to help during this traffic time in Orlando, I’ll repeat what many others have said: give blood if you’re in the area. If you’re not in area, consider giving to the OneOrlando Fund, which will distribute monies to people, families, and groups affected by this event.