Tragedies are never easy business.
At once you want to say everything you’re feeling and give into your anger, while simultaneously feeling the urge to say nothing at all.
What are the right words to say and the right actions to take when the city I call home is in such pain? What trivial problems in life actually matter, when so many innocent people enjoying a night out dancing have died for no reason?
My default response when it comes to politics, world events, and the more private parts of my life is to simply say nothing. It beats saying the wrong thing, or alienating my friends with different viewpoints, or feeling like a phony being shaken over something that happened but didn’t impact me directly.
So when I heard about the multiple shootings this past weekend in Orlando, I struggled with whether or not to speak despite the shock and hurt I felt.
I settled with a post on my personal page sharing the news story everyone’s read and keeps reading in disbelief, and acknowledged that I had no words for such a terrible thing.
I also struggled with saying anything else at all. Everything suddenly felt unimportant, stupid, wrong.
But the more I thought about it, and the more I witnessed the people of Orlando and all over the world coming together to spread support, love, help, and kindness in the wake of disaster, the more I realized that yes, I do have something to say.
Before I moved to Orlando, I thought I would hate it. I had the perception that Orlando was all about Disney, and full of tourists, and not a place with it’s own distinct personality outside of Mickey Mouse.
At first, I didn’t give it much of a chance. But then I began getting involved, and reaching out, and trying a little harder and Orlando showed me the kind of city it really is. One full of wonderful, talented, creative people. A city with a thriving food scene that supports local businesses and big businesses alike. A beautiful city where nature can be enjoyed with the city as a backdrop. A city to call home. A city where multiple cultures thrive and intertwine, and where people come together instead of spreading apart in the wake of such loss.
Tragedies are not about just me or you. Tragedies result in hate, and anger, and fear, and speechlessness. But they can also open the door to amazing kindness and love, and strength.
We can choose to be speechless, or we can stand up and say something. We can be silent, or we can come together to make a difference and show others we support them and love them no matter what sexual preference, or color, or beliefs. We can continue to let our differences separate us, or we can respect those differences, and work together towards solutions.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from living in this city, it’s that when you open yourself up to it, it will give give give everything it’s got. Put yourself out there, and Orlando will accept you with open arms.
The events of this past weekend are horrific. Yet it gives me an inkling of hope seeing how our city and our world has banded together to deal with this, united. It reminds me that people are still good. That love can prevail over hatred and evil.
My heart goes out to all of the victims, their families, the hospital workers, police officers, the LGBTQ community, and everyone affected by this tragedy. There’s nothing I can say to stop the pain, hurt, confusion, or fear. But please know that Orlando, and all of it’s people, are with you 100% of the way.
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