The terrorist attack in Orlando is heartbreaking. Fifty people lost their lives and about that many were injured in what has been called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. I grieve for families and friends who lost loved ones…or who now sit beside loved ones in the hospital, hoping and praying. Violence always sickens me.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of such an attack sickens me nearly as much. That’s when people second guess, play armchair FBI agent (and automatically blame Islamic terrorists), or anti-NRA advocate (and decry all guns), or anti-Trump basher (and say it was Trump’s rhetoric that caused this), or why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along ostriches (who don’t understand violence is part of the world, and always has been).
For one brief moment following a tragedy, we are united. (Think of 9/11.) After that – very shortly after that – the political ideologies emerge and we’re once again at each other’s throats. Social media is awash this morning with politics, opinions, demands, recommendations, etc.
I believe in love as much as the next guy – more, if you know about all of my projects that involve love. I firmly believe “only love dispels hate.” That’s my life’s foundation. (It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, too.)
Yet, I’m not naive enough to believe that love could have prevented yesterday’s terrorist attack in Orlando.
I think many people misunderstand love. It’s not necessarily preventative – like a necklace of garlic to keep vampires at bay, or a kind of pill one takes to ward off bad things – like what happened in Orlando – from occurring.
It can work that way. But most successfully when it’s mutually agreed upon and people buy into it going forward. Did you ever go through Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training in the work place? It’s frustrating. All it takes is for one or two people to put the kibosh on the whole thing. Covey’s 7 Habits philosophy is brilliant – in theory.
Same for love.
I believe love is the most powerful force on earth. I believe it can – 99% of the time – prevent hatred from sparking and spreading. It can do that by diffusing tense situations. It can do that lowering walls, building bridges, extending kindness and compassion.
But that 1% is where, I believe, love truly shines. It may even be where love actually lives. That’s where we see who truly loves…and who only loves when it’s convenient. Or because it’s the daily catchphrase.
Why? Because if we can love AFTER a tragedy, even love those RESPONSIBLE for the tragedy, then we have something worth talking about. Then we have love powerful enough to change the world.
Christians know the phrase, “Love your enemies.” Or even “Turn the other cheek.” They know of Jesus on the cross who said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – as he was being crucified.
That’s what I mean.
Love often works best as a source of strength during a tragedy, or to pick up the pieces after a tragedy. It works when we lay aside our personal opinions and political preferences and petty ideologies and help each other through. It shines like a beacon when we simply reach out with a hug – rather than take to arms with gritted teeth and seek retaliation, retribution, revenge.
Love is critical before a tragedy. It’s absolutely essential after one.
Right now, the last thing on earth the torn-asunder-by-death families and friends in Orlando need is more hatred heaped atop the hatred that pulled the trigger. They don’t need political viewpoints (Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian or otherwise). They don’t need pro-Obama, anti-Trump, or to “Feel the Bern.” Neither do they need polarization on gun control (pro-, con-, or otherwise.)
They need love to help them through. And then to heal.
That’s the kind of love that will dispel hate, that will love enemies. It’s the kind that will stand beside someone in need. No matter what.
Love may prevent such hatred in the future. But that’s not our concern right now. Right now, we have many, many grieving people in Orlando who need help just to get through the next hour.