June 12, 2016, Prescott- My week was largely occupied with helping to man a shelter, for some 37 people who were evacuated from two communities, Yarnell and Peeples Valley, once again threatened by fire. This time, no one died. This time, there was minimal property damage. This time, the fire was taken seriously, from the get-go.
The shelter closed this morning. I helped with the breakdown, helped inventory the necessities. Then, I went to the Raven Cafe, had brunch and came home. My middle brother, in the course of a phone conversation, told me of Orlando. He told me there were 50 dead. He told me there were 50 other people, whose lives were in the balance. He told me of the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil, since 9/11/2001.
Orlando/Beirut: Many dead, in the former; many terrified, in the latter. Two fine cities, united by atrocity. The list of affected cities and towns grows. The list of innocent victims multiplies. The hate continues.
Three years ago, when I was in yet another of the fogs that come with grief, and was making some terrible choices, one person came to my aid. One person called me and said, directly and convincingly, “This needs to stop. You are acting crazy and it’s not going to end well.” That person reset my mental clock. That person, as fine a friend as I’ve ever known, is a member of the LGBT community. That person and his fellows deserve all the respect and human dignity that those of us who are heterosexual, cissexual, or any other designation, can possibly muster.
Pulse is now a place of mourning. Orlando is now a city dealing with two shocks: One small in scale; the other, the worst firearms attack in American history, outside of war. Both shatter the convoluted logic that, if only good people had firearms, the bad would be at a disadvantage. Yes, quick, decisive action by police officers did prevent more lives from being lost, in both incidents. Yet, both shooters reportedly acquired their weapons legally.
So, our choice is this: 1. Honour the souls who have gone on, and not make excuses, as we have done- every single time before, including after 9/11 (“That Frenchman said the U.S. Government did it.”) and after Newtown (“Don’t you know those kids are in hiding. Nobody really died, except Lanza.”)
2. Stay in the mindset of ignorance, and denial, and watch, “helplessly”, as the carnage goes on, and gets worse, and comes to a theater near you.
I am listening, thinking, waiting- and mourning. I will not stand idly by, if a demon rages in my view.