We Win or Lose, Together

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for the world, full of sorrow for so many, and I have been trying to process all that I am feeling. The following (long and not so organised) thoughts are the result of some of that.

My extended family lost two men over two days, one after the other, both from heart-related conditions, both sudden and completely unexpected. There are no answers for the anguished question of “Why?” that can assuage the grief that those closest to them are feeling.

At least 51 others lost loved ones over the two days prior, to senseless and hate-filled violence. Again, there are no answers, no reasons that can make what happened seem reasonable in any way. There is much grief, as there ought to be.

Death is never easy. No matter the circumstance, we grieve, for death was never part of the Plan. It will happen to us all, but death always brings grief because we were made for Life.

No one tragedy surpasses another, yet the world is grieving for the 51 known victims of gunfire violence this week not simply because they died, but because they were killed by hate and bigotry.

There is little we can do to keep Death at bay, for it comes for us all in time, but there is much we can do to prevent death from coming by human hands. I do not know what motivated the two gunmen to open fire on the individuals they killed, nor am I making excuses for them, for there are none, but what I will say is this: Love breeds love, and hate breeds hate. We must pursue love, give love, fight with love. And that applies to everyone, but especially those whom we disagree with or dislike, and those who have done unthinkable things, for they, perhaps more than any, are most in need of Love.

Presumably, both the man who shot and killed Christina Grimmie and the man who shot and killed 50 and injured many more at the gay nightclub in Florida also left behind grieving relatives and loved ones. “How could he do such a thing?” is a question being asked not only by the victims’ family and friends and the watching world, but also by the family and friends of the perpetrators. While they grieve the loss of their loved one, they also grapple with the hate and anger we all feel over what he has done and struggle under the weight of knowing that the whole world is angry with their father, brother, son, friend.

We like to vilify murderers, rapists, attackers, and all those who in unthinkable ways violate the innocent. We think that by stirring up hate for the person, inseparable from the terrible thing he has done, we are somehow reclaiming ground, restoring justice, painful step by painful step. But as long as we harbour hate for people, we possess the capacity to hurt people. As long as we think of people – not all, just certain types of people or certain individuals – as problems, we will never see love win.

Love wins only when we are able to see that hateful people are hurting people in need of love, that restoring Justice involves far more than making sure that those guilty of a crime get what they deserve but extends to eradicating the very conditions that led them to commit that crime in the first place, conditions that allowed such hatred to fester and take root. Love wins when we recognize that we all could use a little more love and that love can be learned and hatred unlearned, so instead of denouncing those who hate and becoming hateful towards them ourselves we fight to figure out how to love them anyway.

We all lose when we allow our world to operate based on hate and fear, when we stand silently while fellow humans suffer, when we respond by closing our doors to protect our own instead of opening them to shelter those in need.

In our fight for equality and justice we too often fight in ways that turn us against our fellow man, as though if we could only gather all those who see things the way we do, who value the things we do (which are the things that should be valued), we will win the fight. This is not true. We are all part of the same human race. If we want to see this world changed for the better, we have to open our doors and our hearts to all.

All, including not only the victims and their families, but even their killer and his family, as well as those who celebrate his actions. It is a difficult sympathy – one that simultaneously decries and gets angry over the injustices done while it grieves over the state of this world that produces people so broken that they view murder and hate as the best course of action.

We either win together or we lose together. There is no in between. Here’s to working for victory, all of us together.

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