There is so much hate in the world. Over the coming days, you’ll read stories and watch news reports about the shooting in Orlando. You’ll see the gunman’s face, hear the accounts of survivors, and be not-so-gently reminded that this is the worst mass shooting in US history. At first, you’ll feel fear, and sadness. Eventually, you’ll start to feel hate, too.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) June 12, 2016
It might be a slow build—you’re in shock. How could one person cause this much harm? You will find yourself wondering this over the next few days, few weeks, few months. Victim’s names will be burned into your memory from repetition, and you’ll find yourself remembering them at odd times. Eventually, the news reports will dwindle, and you’ll attend Pride. It won’t feel the same as every other year—there are, after all, 50 less people in our colorful community. The sadness will feel almost palpable. Sometime during the time you’re there, there will be a speech and a moment of silence for the victims, and for their families. You’ll bow your head, and deep down you’ll start to feel it: a little seed of hatred.
Then you’ll start to feel everything, all at once: anger, resentment, hatred, shame, fear, uncertainty. What if I’m next? What if they come to my city, to the clubs I frequent? The hatred will build, all of your emotions tumbling out of you at once. You’ll hear that the shooter was fighting for the Islamic State, and you’ll feel more fear mixing with your hatred. You’ll start to think that maybe the racist, xenophobic attitude that’s rearing its head in the US might have a nugget of truth to it.
Hatred will destroy you. It will turn you into an ugly, shriveled husk of a person. When we succumb to fear, we turn into monsters. When the fear turns to outright hatred, you will lose the very things you are trying so desperately to cling to. You’ll look in the mirror one day and not recognize the person staring back at you. You will have become the very thing you’ve been fighting so hard against.
I cannot stress this enough: do not let that happen to you. Hatred is not the answer. Don’t let your sadness and fear and anger control you. What happened was a terrible tragedy, but the best—I mean the best— way to honor the memories of those who died is simply to love.
Love yourself. Love your partner. Love your family; the guy who runs the bodega down the street; your mailman. Don’t go through life fueled by hatred, because I promise you, nothing good will come of it. Nothing good is built on a foundation of hate. This will not break us; we won’t let it—because hatred is not the answer; hatred is never the answer.
They may be strong, but we are stronger. Love is stronger.