It's Not Okay...
As I sit glued to the TV, watching the coverage of the massacre in Orlando, my heart is heavy with sadness. I cannot comprehend the magnitude of such devastation. I cannot imagine the feelings of terror and fear of the people in the club, the heartbreak of families whose loved ones were killed or injured, the desperation of relatives and friends waiting to receive word about missing loved ones, or the total disbelief of a mother whose son was trapped in the bathroom of a club texting her at 2am that there is a shooter in the club and he is going to die. The horror and heartbreak are beyond imaginable.
A foundational concept of our work is that "everything happens for a reason." I am always challenged in situations like this to find that reason. I once asked Debbie Ford about it. She looked at me and in her total unedited Debbie fashion replied, "You know, sometimes certain things just suck!" Well this is certainly one of those times where any explanation would feel forced or contrived, where the cost of the occurrence far outweighs any rationalization or reason. So I won't even go there.
Since the only way out is through and we must feel in order to heal, it is actually better for us to feel the depths of our emotions and not try to rush through the pain and terror of what happened. Pain is the great motivator for change. And for true change to happen, we might actually need to be with our pain, sadness, loss, fear, confusion, and total intolerance for hatred and violence.
The devastation that happened in Orlando was the work of unparalleled and extreme hate. Many of us are looking at the government, FBI, or the killer's employer (a security company) wondering how, after being investigated twice by the FBI for possible links to terrorism, this man was able to purchase firearms, work as a security guard, or even live in this country. And although all of that must be investigated and responsibility must be taken, blaming policies, procedures, and people in power cannot be the only changes made. We all need to look at our own relationship to hate.
Even before the events in Orlando even happened, this past week I have been thinking a lot about the concept of "haters." As the U.S. presidential election continues to unfold and the candidates, parties, and citizens sling insults and pejorative, negative, and hateful comments at each other, I have truly been disturbed. It has actually been difficult for me to sit at a dinner table, engage in conversations, read articles by respected thought leaders, and watch celebrities, late-night hosts and people who are universally "admired" point fingers and make demeaning and divisive comments. The other day I even got an email from a respected colleague asking why I wasn't writing about "the shadow" of a certain presidential candidate. I responded that although I will write an article about how elections are a great time for us all to identify our shadows, I won't add to the negativity that I see happening in the world or start name-calling people I don't know. Yet I keep thinking that there is an opportunity in this election for people who are accusing others of being dark and divisive to look at their own darkness, and divisiveness.
I keep thinking about songs and quotes that have the phrase "haters gonna hate." I hear children walking around mimicking lyrics, singing "haters gonna hate" like it is a cultural norm. Well, that is not okay! It's not okay that people in positions of power and influence are spewing words of hate. It's not okay that people with star power are confusing satire with hate. It's not okay that our words have become weapons and we are all so quick to share our judgments and criticisms and engage in gossip. As Deepak Chopra said when he courageously apologized for some of the "inappropriate comments" he made about one of the candidates in the past few weeks, "It has almost become politically incorrect to be polite, courteous, respectful, deferential, and have good manners." Well, I agree with Deepak - that is not okay!
Now I am not saying that you can even compare some derogatory comments about politics with the devastation that happened in Orlando. Not even close. But what I am saying is all of us need to truly stand in being the change we want to see in the world. We need to take individual responsibility not only about being and emanating love but also look at how we contribute to hate and/or negativity. We need stand united and call upon our leaders to be respectful, thoughtful, and conscious. I watch my 23-year-old daughter in awe as she is quick to walk away or politely ask people to stop when it comes to putting others down, gossiping, or judging. We all need to think globally and act locally.
Above all I ask you to join with me in sending prayers and blanketing Orlando with love.