"What's Wrong With the World?" Finding Hope After Hate

Fragmented thoughts, conflicting emotions, and hope in the wake of terror.

Posted Jun 14, 2016

Crapuipui/Wikimedia
Beautiful Prideful Orlando
Source: Crapuipui/Wikimedia

It’s been several weeks since the Orlando shooting, less than 24 hours since the Dallas shooting, and I still don’t know what to say. I don’t want to pontificate or politicize. I'm tired. It's difficult to make sense of something so senseless, so I’ll share the fragments of my thoughts. That feels okay today, because I think most of us are feeling fragmented right now.

I have the desire, but no unique words, to express sadness and sympathy. I don’t know if I should be angry or who to be angry at, but it sure feels like anger...and I don't want to react with the same emotion that got us here. I don’t know which laws we should pass or what we can do as a nation to help.

I think my body is telling me that I don’t have to define every emotion with a word. That sometimes grief stretches beyond definition. That words are feeling like distractions from a pain that’s asking for silence. That I’m in shock, yet not at all surprised at what's happened.

My heart is heavy and my mind is telling me it’s time to be sad, but my eyes aren’t shedding tears. Maybe they’ve finally run dry after decades of hate and violence aimed at the LGBTQ community and other minorities. Did you know that more than 30 transgender individuals have been murdered in America over the past 18 months?

I believe that it's okay for us to experience the complexity and confusion of these events without knowing what do about them. Sometimes I feel like I have all the answers. I most certainly do not. Nobody does. Despite the bluster, no politician has a legislative solution. I can turn off the news now, there’s no news there.

Despite living thousands of miles from Orlando and not knowing the victims, my friends and family checked in with me and expressed their fears. The Orlando tragedy hasn’t made me scared to be gay. Those of us who identify as LGBTQ or other minority identities already live every day with an elevated sense of caution. Orlando was the largest singular mass shooting event, but the violence is by no means new to us. Before the 49 innocents were killed in Orlando, there were 49 innocents killed in Chicago street violence. Before the five officers killed in Dallas, there were five other officers killed across America in the line of duty.

And yet…

I've heard beautiful interviews with loved ones of the Orlando victims. I've heard stories of peaceful protest, thousands joining hands in unity and hope. I’m in awe and admiration of the resilience of youth. They’re coping with sadness by celebrating life, gathering rather than retreating, and telling the stories that give names to the numbers. Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” For the LGBTQ community and its allies, "What kills us also makes us stronger." Kind of funny, isn’t it, that persistent stereotype of gays being mincing sissies and wimps? We’re as tough as it gets.

And for all the anger directed at law enforcement—rightfully so in many of these disturbing police brutality cases—the vast majority of peaceful officers hit the pavement every day to protect the vast majority of peaceful citizens across the country.

I choose to believe that most humans embrace change and progress, while a minority will always fear and fight against it. I believe progress is a constant. Humanity’s evolution is undeterred by its own weapons of war. When will the angry few realize that their desperate attempts to stop progress are only fueling its fire? I know this week feels impossibly hard, but I also know we’re getting better all the time. And on that journey, it's okay to not always know what to do or say next. We're all figuring this out together.

[Updated 7/8/16]

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RESOURCES:

In times of global distress we often ask, "What's wrong with the world today?" The following books share perspective and research on how the world is actually getting better. It doesn't take away the pain but it can give us hope.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler 

Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More by Charles Kenny 

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Brad Waters, MSW specializes in working with non-traditional career seekers, freelancers, creatives, introverts, Millennials, and corporate career changers. He helps people clarify their career direction and take action on life transitions. Request a free consultation call at BradWatersCoaching.com

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