Ladies and gents, good morning. Well, it’s morning as I type this. I wanted to get a cute kittens video out yesterday, too tired for much else, and that did not happen. At all. Tech issues aside, today is a new day, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit the last several days. Not much pulled together coherently til this morning, though. Before we get into the meat of the title, a little background. First, remember, this is me, and I exist, therefore accidental politics. I’ll confess right now, I stayed away from Facebook while the Orlando shooting blew over.
I didn’t weigh in.
I didn’t comment.
I didn’t share posts.
I couldn’t care.
Perhaps, to some of you, that sounds heartless. Burnout was a large part of that. I had no energy left to care for fifty strangers a continent away. Were it not for instant communication, I might never have known it happened. Even in my attempt to ignore the issue, though, a few trends stood out. People wanted someone to blame. Religion. America. Homosexuality.
At the same time, America’s keyboards raged about the so-called ineptitude of a mother whose son fell into a gorilla pen and now do the same for parents who lost their child to a deadly reptile at a theme park.
Who do we blame?
For the first? I say let’s call evil what it is and be done with it. I don’t care what the motivations of an act like that are. That’s not my place to decide. Leave that to the courts, and to God. I do know when someone makes the choice to walk – armed – into a crowd of unarmed, innocent people and open fire, that choice is evil. It’s entirely possible that the circumstances that led him to that choice were tragic, but he still had the choice.
I’m having trouble writing this. I know many of you may read that, and freak out.
For the second two, ideally? We have no right to blame anyone. No one threw that boy in the gorilla pen, and unless you were standing by that father, watching his son die with him, you don’t really know what happened there. I know I don’t. So let’s stop wasting energy on the blame game for something that happened out of our sight and knowledge until we read or watched it on the news.
To those present during these tragedies, may you find in the friends around you the support, strength, and love you need to move through the pain and heal. I know it will be a long road, and the pain may never fully leave you, but I pray it may ease as the days and years pass.
This brings me to the other trend I’ve noticed. We’re pulling into our respective “communities” and “safe spaces” again. I didn’t really notice that until a conversation with a close friend yesterday. She’s a volunteer Seminary teacher at her Catholic parish. When we met, she claimed to be agnostic, and I was hardly attending Church at all. Yesterday, she again reminded me that she credits watching me struggle with my own faith and managing to stick with it for allowing her to explore and return to hers.
In my 28 years of life, I never imagined that kind of conversation, and yesterday was not the first time we’ve had it. And that put me in mind of a few other concepts.
I’ll be frank, I never liked the concept of tolerance in the community I’m apparently supposed to be a part of by default. I don’t want to be tolerated. If you don’t like the way I live my life, great, let’s agree to go our separate ways. If you don’t care, and can love me anyway, awesome. Let’s be friends. Sure, we’ll probably have disagreements and stuff, but that’s the power of real, loving friendship. It keeps us together.
See, we see romantic love so often, in movies, in books that we tend to forget love encompasses far more than just romance. If we remembered that, I’m not certain #GiveCaptainABoyfriend or #GiveElsaAGirlfriend would exist (neither of which make sense to me, personally, but that may or may not end up being another post.) And before you say, “Well, you’re Mormon, of course you don’t want a queer superhero or Disney princess.” I really don’t care. Frankly, I’ve got a few gay, bi, lesbian, poly and trans characters of my own. Yes, most of my characters are straight, but statistically, most of the world is straight. It’s kind of a thing that happens.
Now that that tangent is over, let’s look a little more at the love of friendship, and what it can do. I’ve got friends of all kinds. From all walks of life, we’ve got one thing in common. Every so often, life comes in and hits us like a flying cross between a freight train and a crashing starship Enterprise. Seriously. And we all have our pet faults.
- Mental Illness
I’m sure there are plenty more, but I don’t care to list them. Those aren’t the reasons I’m friends with them. I’m friends with them because:
- Ready smile
- Sense of humor
- Honor (though we may view it differently)
- Loyalty (as far as each friend understands it)
- Frankness (If I look like a moron, most of them will tell me.)
- Trials in common (Ever been through a really bad time with someone? Yeah, it changes both of you.)
- Merciful (They’re easier on me than I am on myself.)
- Doing their best to be good people.
It’s that last one that matters most to me. We have no idea what other people have been through. All we can see are their choices. And the thing about choices is, most choices aren’t actually good or evil outright. Some choices are good. Some may be better. Some might be the best option. But unless we’re the one making the choice, we can’t speak for the person who made it. All we can do is extend our love, and do our best to be good people as we understand it.
To a Christian, usually that means following the teachings of Jesus Christ.
To a Jew, it means following the mitzvahs. Doing the positives and refraining from the negatives.
To the atheists I’ve heard explain it, that means leading a life led by reasoned morals.
And let’s imagine for a moment that I’m referencing three specific people in the above sentences. It’s not impossible for them to be friends. Close friends. The kind that would stand together through anything. You know why? Because unity isn’t decided by whether or not we’re Christian or Jew or Atheist, gay or straight or bi. Yeah, I’m out, and I’m trans, and I’m LDS, and frankly, I know this month is Pride month, but I’m not proud about being out. I just am. We’ve got bigger problems.
Let’s remember what true unity is. It’s standing together, hand in hand, with the human beings around you, against the evils of the world we’re in. Maybe you believe in one God, many, or none. Maybe you follow a Goddess. Fantastic. Mourn with me for those innocent lives lost in Orlando, in Tel Aviv, around the world. I have nothing to offer but my words for those who have lost loved ones in these tragedies. They are too numerous for me to truly grieve for every one of you, but I pray that those close to you, those friends who know and love you, who walk with you day in and day out, will stand with you, weep with you, and be with you in these times of darkness. And perhaps, one day, light will come into your life again.
To those of us far from these tragedies, touched only through electronic means, let us extend our love to those close to us, and when we’re tempted to extend blame, ask ourselves if, when we go to bed that night, we’ll actually have done any good. If not, grab your romantic partner, spouse, kids, or someone in the family, go for a walk, and do something fun. There’s enough pain in the world. Let’s stop adding to it. Let’s invite love and unity into our own lives, and maybe, just maybe, we can actually change something down the road for the better.