The shooting that just took place in an Orlando nightclub has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past two days. I find myself reading every news article I come across, in spite of the lack of any new information. And what is the point of learning new details about something like this?
I keep seeing highly scripted reactions by major politicians and so on. The world news subreddit even has a collection of international reactions. It’s like everyone has to say something. I feel like no one wants to be caught without having a public reaction, but that’s probably overly cynical.
I can’t stand the let-me-remind-you-of-my-agenda/platform/etc reactions. Hillary Clinton released a statement on Facebook and keeps tweeting out snippets. I mean – a lot of what she’s saying is good, leadership-type stuff – but it just sounds like she’s using a tragedy to promote herself as a leader. Of course she was no where near as tone deaf as Donald Trump, who accepted congratulations for being “right on radical Islamic terrorism” and used the horrific event to take shots at Obama and Clinton. Basically, Trump’s reaction to one of the worst acts of violence in our recent history was, “I told you so.” Mr. Trump, this is not about you.
That’s the kind of reaction I definitely don’t want to have! I appreciated the reaction of John Oliver – “Right now, this just hurts.” It reminded me of Jesus when he heard that Lazarus had died.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus began to weep.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:32-37)
Jesus knows that Lazarus will live again, but he acknowledges and truly shares the pain of loss that Mary and the others feel. We could excuse him for inserting his agenda in this powerful moment when he has everyone’s attention, but his reaction proves how much he cares about the people, not the opportunity to prove a point.
Real human beings – with as much life and family and love and stories as you or I have ever enjoyed in our lives – have suffered and died because of the hate and callousness of one man with a devastating tool of destruction. Scores of people – as innocent as have ever been on this Earth – had their lives ended. And so many, many more family members and loved ones have huge holes blasted in their lives.
People keep trying to weigh the hate crime vs. terrorism aspects of this tragedy. It’s terrible no matter how you look at it. The fact that someone hated any aspect about another person enough to kill them is a terrible thing. There is no justice in that kind of hate – and we would be very wrong to let it live in our own hearts in response.
I was at two bars on Saturday night – one for a birthday and the second with family. I believe that God wants us to see everyone as family. God’s power to heal and reconcile – shown through Jesus – means that even though we live in a broken world, we have a greater hope. Those people in Orlando are our family. The parents of the gunman – suddenly thrust into the worst kind of spotlight – are our family. The gunman himself – and everyone else who commits acts of violence out of hate – they are all our family.
Right now, this just hurts.