We live in a world where ‘finding yourself’ can be dismissed as a self-indulgent luxury. But I believe it is vital. We’ve all been sent on the same secret mission: to discover who we are, to own our gifts, and to share them in service to others. It is the reason we are here.
But what if we don’t like what we find out about ourselves? What if essential parts of us are not acceptable to the people and institutions around us? The brave will persist until we find community, acceptance, and love. We will trust and love ourselves. The courageous will insist the world make space for us. We will be seen; we will be heard. The intrepid will fight to create change from the inside out. We will make waves.
But some of us succumb to conformity and lack the courage to be true to self. We hide, or we overcompensate and try to be something we are not. Without community that reflects our true selves, we cannot flourish. If we cannot see a way forward, we can become despairing and self-destructive. We can turn our self-hatred on others. This too often becomes catastrophic in a society that lacks sane gun control policies.
In Sunday’s mass murder in Orlando, 49 LGBTQ+ people had their secret missions cut short by someone who could not find his way to know and accept his own truth. The shooter is someone who may have been gay, surrounded by fundamentalist Islamic prejudice that says being gay is unacceptable. The full story is complex and multi-layered and to be revealed. All we know is that someone who is happy with himself, someone who has a way forward in life, does not commit mass murder.
I grieve for the beautiful young people who were killed for celebrating life, for just being themselves in community. May all the love and promise they embodied take root in us and grow more powerful. I stand with these eternal souls, their friends and families, to use the overwhelming depth and strength of our love (and our grief) to make much needed changes in our society.
This may be controversial, but I also grieve for the shooter. He made horrible, hopeless, devastating choices and could not find a peaceful way to be in this world. I wonder what gifts, in other circumstances, he could have brought to the world if he had been braver to know himself beyond ideology.