My Washington Blade advice column this week:
I’m so angry and sad about the shootings in Orlando.
It seems to me like we can do our best in life, be kind and caring, push for gay equality, and some moron can still come along and kill us. What kind of crazy world is this?
I was so happy last June with the gay marriage decision, and I felt like everything was looking up. Now I don’t even feel safe going out and and am feeling like I should just stay home.
Everything seems to be snowballing downhill and I’m starting to think that there’s really no point to this life.
How do we go forward when everything seems so hopeless?
Yes, the news is beyond awful, and life seems increasingly fragile and unsafe.
To put things in perspective, this craziness isn’t a totally new phenomenon. We’re seeing the latest round of an old, old story. Throughout history, hatred and violence build up and explode. Then people struggle to patch things up…until the next time.
We humans often seem to have a hard time learning that we have to find a way to get along. We’re all on this small planet together and have no place else to go.
Sure, we’ve made some progress over the last few thousand years toward a more caring, decent humankind. But this progress has gone hand-in-hand with our ever-increasing ability to cause mass suffering, destruction, and death. That’s a sad realization, but it’s the truth.
You might say that the choice you and all of us are facing is to either give up, or do our best to keep pushing for our world to go in a more positive direction.
Do we have any certainty that we’ll succeed? No. But if we don’t make an effort, how can we have any hope that the situation will not continue to get worse?
If we want to have a more peaceful and just world, we must keep working for one. Apathy or hopelessness will not get us anywhere good.
I get you’re scared to go out. A lot of people are. However, what is the alternative? Give up on living our lives?
Helen Keller once wrote that “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Of course, she wasn’t saying that you’re not really living unless you sky-dive or BASE-jump. She was making the point that risk is an essential part of being alive. These days, none of us can ignore the stark truth of her statement.
We each have to decide for ourselves how we want to go forward. You may choose to shut down and give up. But what sort of existence would that be?
You might instead choose to make the most of life, fleeting as life inevitably is.
But what does this mean, for any individual? Doing your best to be compassionate to all sentient beings? Fighting for justice? Enjoying the moment? Walking the path that has integrity for you, even if it is a dangerous one? All of the above?
However any of us decide to go forward, making the choice of how we want to lead our life is the most important and powerful decision that we ever have to make. It’s our means of defining who we are, and our path to having some impact on the world around us. Limited impact, but possibly significant.
So before you give in to despair, please consider your own potential.