I’m still confused. It’s been almost a week since the mass shooting in Orlando. 49 people were gunned down and many others were severely wounded and are still hospitalized. I know there is a lot of anger and you might be experiencing that emotion yourself.
Everyone in that nightclub will be dealing with his or her own version of emotional or physical trauma…every family member has his or her own grief to process…and the rest of us has our own process to try and make some sense of something that is “sense”-less. Writing is one of the ways that I traverse that road of finding answers…of finding peace…and, most importantly, of finding compassion and love.
I can recall certain times in my life where I have taken “attacks” personally (I would guess you have your own version of times like this). One was when I was on active duty in the Navy and the USS Cole was attacked, killing 17 Sailors and wounding 39 others. I personally knew none of the injured or killed, but they were my family. I took it personally…I felt connected to them. The next was on September 11th, 2001.
You probably have your own version of what that day meant to you.
For me, it was on my home soil and approximately 3,000 people were gone from my family within minutes. That day changed everything…that day still impacts everything…it still impacts my military family…that day was horrible…I took it personally. Finally, the attack in the gay nightclub last week…another attack on my family…I still can’t find the right words to express it…I’m confused and sad…I take it personally. The reason that I take these events personally is that I feel a connection to them and the people who died…they were my Navy family, my American family, my LGBTQ+ family, my Human family.
There is a lot of talk about gun control, mental illness, religion, terrorism, and hate crimes.
All of these are worthy discussions, yet they don’t solve what I believe is the underlying problem and the reason that people feel the need to “kill.”
Here is my radical belief:
One of the worst and most chronic diseases we have as humans is the fear of connection with someone we don’t want to connect to… it’s the addiction to being different, special, unique, better, more enlightened, more religious, etc…it’s the need for connection and the fear of connecting with the person we loathe. This disease, in my opinion, kills more humans than most diseases; just ask any gang member who has his or her “turf” threatened. This disease…the fear of connecting to the pieces and parts of me that I “despise” in others…contributes to humans taking their own lives on a daily basis.
Let me explain…What I see in you, I have to see in me (it’s projection)…even if what I see in you is something that I “hate.” It’s not about being gay, having a different religion, political belief, ethnicity, sports team…it’s about fear…it’s about being threatened. “Hate” is the fear of connection…of seeing the same parts of me that I fear (hate) in you.
For example, “What I hate (fear) is the parts of me that I see in you…and those are parts that I can’t stand seeing. If I kill you, I kill and don’t have to see those parts in me.”
That’s an illusion…those parts in me are there regardless of what I do to hurt or kill you.
In my confusion, I am searching for answers and here’s what I have in the moment. The only remedy to combat this disease is connection and compassion, toward myself and toward the person holding up the mirror to my challenges.
When I love and respect me, I project that out as love and respect toward you. Differences are necessary…good…beautiful…wonderful. If everyone walked like you, talked like you, had your same interests and beliefs, you wouldn’t be human…you’d be a robot, which would be a horribly boring existence (at least that’s what my robot friends tell me).
Lastly friend, in my state of less confusion (not much, but any is welcome), I’ll attempt my signature cheerleading sendoff. Seek connection with others, as you will connect to parts of yourself by doing so. If you find a difference that irritates you or that you don’t understand, look inward to find that area within yourself that you are confused about or struggle with.
That person that gave you that “trigger” or exposed that discomfort in you is a gift…he or she is helping you uncover an area for you to work on and gain compassion, for self and for that person. On the other hand, if you find something you love or respect about another, place awareness and gratitude on that wonderful quality that you love and respect about yourself. If you find yourself judging another, find the area within you that you are projecting onto that person.
I might not live my life exactly like you do, I might not have the same skin color, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or sexual orientation, and still, you are a part of my human family. I am immensely grateful for that.
Image retrieved from focuspocusnow.com