I am utterly disgusted by our long national nightmare of gun violence, so I turn to Facebook to seek some comfort or community, and I discover that a friend marked herself as safe. She lives in Orlando.
We do not need to know someone in the Orlando community to feel the pain of senseless violence. In a way, we are all Orlando. We are all Sandy Hook, or the Aurora movie theater. We are all San Bernardino or Paris. We are all victims of the hate crimes and senseless violence that propagate through our lives leaving disbelief and horror in the wake. Despite what my friend wrote, nobody feels safe anymore.
This time it was the LGBT community. In the recent past it’s been African Americans sitting in church. Twice in my state it was high school students. It’s been women at Planned Parenthood, college students in Virginia and once it was six year olds in first grade. Where does it end?
This is not going to be a rant against gun violence or the second amendment. That gun violence permeates our lives is the new normal. I am not going to argue who has the right to own or shoot a gun. I have been threatened by lunatics and yogis, and lunatic yogis, so I understand the right, or the need, or the fear to protect oneself. Believe me, I get it.
I will say that addressing this issue is at the very top of my list for presidential candidates, and I am dismayed to see so many people place other things above it. But, whatever. We each are entitled to our opinion. Personally, I feel it is more important to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, than it is to watch over who uses a bathroom. However, I respect you even if we disagree.
This rant is about the silence that followed this shooting. My social media feeds were eerily void of expressions of sorrow. Some may say it is because the community targeted is controversial. Or it could be that we have finally gone numb to the violence.
It could also be partly due to the people on social media who are determined to “teach” all of us our lessons on social democracy. And by “teach” I mean, express their view by calling the rest of us idiots.
Despite our connection through the internet I feel we are more disconnected than ever. I have never felt more isolated or unwilling to enter the national conversation on anything in my life.
Back in the day a journalist would write about the news. Today, if you are white then you cannot speak about issues that involve people of color because you are obviously speaking from your white privilege. If you are a woman, then you must be playing your woman card (although the woman card has never gotten me much in life). If you are a white man, then you best shut the fuck up.
Please remember that if it wasn’t for the kindness, decency and courage of a few white people who were admittedly born into privilege, there may still be slavery. Please do not make us all bad guys just because things still suck.
If anything were to come out of the horror of violence I hope it would be to bring us together so we may see there is more alike than is dissimilar beneath the color of our skin, or how we worship, or who we choose to love. I want to express myself honestly, learn where I need to, and not worry about who is going to bombard my news feeds and call me a stupid white lady from the suburbs (which pretty much happens on the daily).
I am a mother. I live in a state that has had its share of gun violence. I have a friend in Orlando. I have beloved gay people in my family. I guess that gives me the right to speak up this time. But more importantly, I am a human being who cares deeply about all other beings, of all colors and political persuasions.
I want to know that everyone is safe when I go to bed at night. And I want to feel safe if I express that publicly.
Michelle Marchildon is The Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. You can find her writing on Yoga International, Mantra Yoga and Health Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. www.YogiMuse.com