What can I do?
Early in the morning hours of Sunday morning, June 12, 2016, the worst mass shooting in United States history happened at a nightclub in Orlando.
The shooting, perpetrated by an alleged allegiant of ISIS, killed 50 people and wounded 53 more at one of the biggest gay nightclubs in Florida.
In the immediate aftermath, police rushed to respond to the terror. News media rushed to report the information around the massacre. Politicians submitted statements, acknowledging prayers and hope for the victims and their families of this devastating attack.
And I sat in my bedroom, wondering: What can I do?
The people of Orlando responded by donating blood in massive numbers, providing an outlet for the people hurt and affected by this attack as they try to recover from what they thought would be a few hours of enjoyment but turned into the worst nightmare of their lives.
But nearly 2,000 miles away, I cannot donate blood that will directly benefit the people in Orlando. I can’t volunteer for the front lines, cheering victims or reporting on the act of terror and the worst hate-crime I can remember in my life.
There is one thing I can do, and the answer came from an unlikely source: a politician, but also the leader of the free world, the President of the United States.
Those who know me know that I tend to eschew politics. It’s not that I don’t find them important; secretly, I am a political junkie. But I am beginning to disdain the horserace mentality of our political theater, and I long for the desired change like thousands in the United States that would allow our political leaders to enact change, and not merely talk, rally, raise money and campaign for re-election.
Yet in the aftermath of the #OrlandoShootings, Pres. Barack Obama released a short statement on the events. In the roughly five-minute interlude, Pres. Obama condemned the attacks as “an act of terror, and an act of hate.” He said the FBI was actively investigating the attacks, and justice would be meted to whomever was discovered to have a hand in it.
And then he said something that I didn’t expect, but something that I needed to hear.
“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” the President said.
I can love. I may not be able to directly contribute to the active terror investigation. I may not be able to donate blood, time or means to help those affect by this tragedy. As a member of the press, I may not be able to report and investigate the worst shooting on U.S. soil in modern history.
But I can love— and maybe that’s enough. I can pray, I can hope, and I can try to sympathize with the afflicted in the devastating aftermath of the tragedy. But I can also love, and perhaps that will have the greatest impact of all.
The world needs more love in today’s climate of political haranguing, divisive speech and lack of compassion for one’s neighbor. We need love to combat the ills and trials of the world, the hate that is propelled at us from all sides, and the anger that is shown in retaliation for what we may consider to be grave injustices.
The world needs love — and I can provide it, even if only in my small corner of the globe.
As the Savior of the World taught in Christian theology: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)
Will you love with me?