I am still having a rough time wrapping my mind around what happened at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. More and more states are legalizing same sex marriages, which gave me so much hope. More and more people are able to transition to the gender they identify with, with the assistance of doctors, family and friends, which is amazing. Businesses who refuse to serve same sex couples are usually greeted with outrage instead of congratulations, which is exactly how we should react. It seemed like we were getting somewhere.
Out of nowhere, on a night where friends, family members, old and young, of various genders and orientations were having fun and enjoying life, one horrible person destroyed everything. Innocent people were murdered, others injured. A former safe place was riddled with bullet holes. The wrong kind of history was made thanks to the death toll.
Some people want to blame terrorism. This would be a mistake. Idiots like Donald Trump want you to believe that this was an evil Muslim who came to this country with the goal of destroying America. Not the case; the shooter wasn’t attacking America, he was attacking the LGBTQ community. I don’t care if he did it out of self hatred or for religious reasons or because society still doesn’t fully accept certain lifestyles; the point is, he targeted this community out of hatred.
If you don’t care about the shooting at Pulse, you are part of the problem. “But I’m straight and don’t believe in homosexuality, so it doesn’t affect me.” Simply because you don’t believe in someone’s lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should feel justified in ignoring their suffering and silently condoning their slaughter. We’re not savages; we should value every human life regardless of whether or not we agree with their personal choices. We should not get to turn our backs on this type of tragedy, especially one as horrifying as the shooting at Pulse.
Thanks to the actions of one horrible person, who thankfully is no longer around, people around the country have been afraid to celebrate Pride month. People who I call friends are afraid of their lives. Let me repeat: THEY ARE AFRAID FOR THEIR LIVES. All because of who they prefer to spend their time with. There are not enough of us fighting for the rights of our peers. We need to be more vocal. We need to make it clear that the ones filled with hatred are the ones in the wrong, not our LGBTQ community. We need to do more, and we need to be better. We can’t keep allowing this to happen.
I am absolutely horrible at dealing with death. Having a person here one day and gone the next is something I’ll never quite get used to. It doesn’t help that I’m slightly terrified by dead bodies and act like a royal idiot every rare instance I am in a funeral home. When it comes to properly dealing with death, I am completely clueless. I cry randomly when it makes no sense, but remain dry-eyed in moments I should be in tears. I never know what to say or do or how to act. I almost prefer to be notified via text message so I can deal with things in my own way without embarrassing myself or offending anyone.
Everyone deals with death in a different way, and lately I’ve had front row tickets to all the different ways we try to process the loss of life. Some people blame themselves, even though in just about every instance, there was nothing they could have done to prevent whatever happened. Some people blame the deceased, wondering why they couldn’t have done things differently so they could still be here. Anger is a big one; we get angry at the family, at friends or coworkers, at ourselves, or at anything we perceive as not right or proper. Others just withdraw into themselves, as if hiding will make the death something that was all a bad dream.
People have a funny way of coming together in times of tragedy. Estranged family members are suddenly best of friends, hugging and crying and laughing together as they work through each day and try to heal. Sometimes the change is a long lasting one, but more often than not, everyone goes back to ignoring each other within a month or two. It’s a shame that the effects never seem to be long lasting ones, but I suppose it’s better than nothing at all.
Right now, I am dealing by avoiding as much as I possibly can. From the get-go, people have been horrendously ugly with each other, even going as far as saying certain family members did not have the right to attend a viewing. Some people seem concerned with who gets what, totally driven by money and objects while completely ignoring the fact that someone is gone from this world forever. There are plots and theories and things being said that are better suited for an episode of CSI. I simply cannot deal with it anymore.
Call me selfish if you will, but I decided to skip a memorial service earlier today. I declined to go because I did not want to deal with someone who planned to block the door and not allow certain people inside (even though it’s a public service, so it wouldn’t have worked in the end). I declined because I can’t listen to one more theory about what REALLY happened and who is REALLY responsible. I declined because I find it disgusting how certain people are behaving when we should all be honoring someone’s life and remembering them fondly in death.
I am terrible at dealing with death. But I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who deal with it a hundred times worse than I ever have. I’ve learned that in the end, the way you deal is not important. What is important is that the memory of the one we lost is honored somehow. Differences are put aside and we all treat each other like human beings for a while. Death is a reminder of how short and fragile life is. When someone dies, we shouldn’t waste time hating each other and acting like self-absorbed strangers. That’s no way to live. If I’ve learned one thing this past week, it is that I waste too much time on negativity. I don’t want to do that anymore. And when I die, I want the people I’ve left behind to get along, not argue over who gets what or blame each other for my passing. Life is too short to be wasted on bullshit.
Last Saturday, the stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed after failing to withstand gusts of wind at 60 to 70 miles per hour. A friend of mine was about ten feet from it and said it happened without warning; the sky got dark and a sudden gust of wind toppled the state. Twitter was flooded with updates on the injured and deceased, pictures and videos of the collapse, and various prayers and well wishes. Five people lost their lives as a result of the collapse, many others were injured.
Let the blame game begin! AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Smith told CBS News that “it was very predictable. We put out a warning for 60 mile-an-hour winds a full half-hour before the stage collapse occurred.” A groundskeeper, Roger Smith, said “it’s pathetic. It makes me mad, those lives could have been saved yesterday.” Anyone who has had a concert cancelled on them can tell you how annoying it is; dealing with ticket refunds and reissues, having your plans blown for a reason that never seems good enough. I guarantee that if the area was evacuated and nothing but a few raindrops fell, people would be irate at having to inconvenience themselves and move out, delaying the Sugarland show for no good reason. The stage was in good condition, the crew gave the crowd a warning that an evacuation may be necessary, and they were in communication with the National Weather Service; while it’s sad that people lost their lives, it was hardly anyone’s fault but Mother Nature.
Of course the situation is sad and of course it would have been wonderful if it could have been prevented or if the area had been cleared prior to the collapse. Sadly, tragedy isn’t always avoidable. After Katrina hit, people blamed Bush for not liking black people (thank you, Kanye) and for not better preparing for the hurricane to strike, they blamed the government as a whole for not responding in what they deemed a proper way, they blamed residents for not evacuating sooner. It seemed as though the blame was everywhere but on the environment that constructed a deadly storm and blew it towards Louisiana, a place where many cities are below sea level and are susceptible to flooding. Shit happens and when it does, it doesn’t tend to take your feelings into consideration while it travels down its destructive path. Until we find a way to control the weather, we need to accept that not everything can be prevented, and in some situations the only thing we can do is react after the fact.
Using blame as a coping mechanism isn’t a good way to deal with a tragic event. For those who are currently dealing with the loss of friends and family or are worried about injured folk in the hospital, I feel for you. To those who were at the fair and are shaken up, I understand it’s hard. That being said, it’s no one’s fault and attempting to find a person or source to place blame upon is a pointless exercise. Are you really going to get angry at meteorologists, people who have the only job in the world where you can be wrong half the time and not be fired? Or be angry at the crew who did their best to keep people safe while attempting to ensure the show went on? Nothing is accomplished by slamming people for not doing what you think would be appropriate. They did their job to the best of their ability and sadly it wasn’t enough to prevent injuries and deaths. Maybe the entire show should have been cancelled and everyone sent home, maybe the crowd should have taken it upon themselves to leave the fairgrounds, and maybe the crew should have evacuated people 5 minutes sooner. All those maybe’s don’t change what happened though, so maybe we should accept what happened as an unpreventable act of nature and maybe we should learn from it and be better prepared for the next storm rather than waste our time seeking out a scapegoat.