This has been a rough week, following the terrible violence in Orlando. The news came on Sunday, as I was riding a high from participating in commencement ceremonies at the university where I teach. I’d congratulated and celebrated with students launching new phases of their lives, under vivid blue skies, with just a touch of our famous spring wind.
Listening to early accounts from Orlando prompted visions of other people whose lives were cut short. Social media flooded with heartfelt, genuine sorrow, shared grief, and passionate support for the communities affected. And then followed the usual arguments, statements, pronouncements, and judgments from the usual suspects, posturing for the moral or political high ground.
In my life, I love people who believe sincerely in gun control, and people who believe sincerely in the right to own guns. I love people who fear the beliefs of religions not their own, I love people who embrace all religious beliefs, and I love atheists. I love people of all sexual orientations, preferences, and gender identifications. I love people who stay home and people who travel. I love people who were born in the USA and people who came here seeking something they could not find in their home countries. I love vegans and meat-eaters, dog people and cat people and people who don’t really want animals around. I love people who want to lead and people who want to hide. I love people who have suffered violence, hate, aggression targeted at them because of who they are. I love people who have always lived with privilege. I love Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians, Rastafarians, socialists, people who avoid politics at all costs. I love young people, old people, men, women, girls, boys.
All of these people are in my circle of family and friends and I love them all, or try to. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes some of them annoy me and sometimes some of them scare me. Sometimes we argue and sometimes we agree to disagree. And often, we find ways to come together about our most cherished values, or at least with a few good jokes to prompt shared laughter.
I believe that decisions and actions can be “right” or “wrong,” but human beings are far more complex. I hope to continue to pursue understanding and loving them (and me) in all our contradictory splendor.
In the middle of a tough week, I feel more certain than ever that this is our biggest, boldest, most audacious task and our strongest hope: to offer loving kindness to all creatures who share our tiny planet with us.
I am not good at this yet, but I work and hope to get better.