After the attacks on Pulse in Orlando, Florida, it's never been more clear that hate among, not just extremist groups, but Americans, is strong. Regardless of whether the shooter, Omar Mateen, decided to shoot up the club because he hated gays or he hated Americans, make no mistake, it was a crime of hate. And I'm certain that when Eddie Justice, a club-goer who tragically lost his life during the killings, was texting his mother that Mateen was in the bathroom with them, what motivated Mateen's hatred was second to the fact that he was in there to kill as many people as possible. "I'm gonna die," Justice texted his mother. Those texts were the last conversation she had with her son. I have no words.
These are the stories that chill me, the last text messages, the phone calls people made to loved ones on 9-11, faced with so many definitions of terror. It makes it real. For a brief moment, I can imagine, what if that was me? What if that was me saying one last goodbye and thinking about my young child who is my world, left behind without a mother? What if it was me receiving such a message from my husband, my sister, a friend? How helpless a feeling, how terrifying, how horrible, how lacking in words do I feel to try and describe what these people must have felt, what their loves ones are now feeling. Sadly, it's a scenario I've imagined many times.
In times like these, of which there seem to be increasingly more, it's always healing to see the country unite. Sharing love, compassion, empathy, and grief. I feel at a loss this time around, in the wake of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. I've seen plenty of support for the gay community and a general sharing of sadness over this tragedy, but I've also seen a serious breakdown in the culture of support, a divisiveness where there is no compromise, a spewing of stances on second amendment rights, disagreements surrounding presidential responses, Muslim rights, gay rights, etc. More anger, more hate, more vitriolic discussions on who's right and who's wrong. Forty-nine people died and the country is grieving. Let's focus on that as a united people before we get back to the squabbling, don't you think?
It's my mantra: #StopTheHate