After the shooting in Orlando I was numb. In fact, every time a mass shooting occurs now, I am numb. I think we all feel that way, but we all handle it in various ways. Within hours, there are blog posts, articles, and news pieces. People explode on social media with memes, arguments, and debates. There’s a whole lot of projection, a whole lot of persecution, and a mess of ideologies. Yet, what have I noted that is lacking? The ability to listen.
It seems Omar Mateen was gay. No one will ever know for sure. Lovers have come forward, information was found on his computer and phone that points to him being gay, yet, it is all speculation. Mateen didn’t just attack a gay nightclub because he was homophobic. It seems his inner demons ate away at his soul. The fact that he was Muslim on top of that, which, if you follow the doctrine, forbids homosexuality, obviously lent to his actions that fateful night.
Let’s say Mateen was gay. His faith dictated to him that he couldn’t be. He struggled. He prayed. He married two women. Then, he killed 49 people.
On an unexpected weekend in June, the city of Orlando was rocked with a string of violent attacks that created an earthquake of shock, grief, fear, hurt, and a sadness too terrible to name, that all ends of our globe have felt. It started with the shocking shooting of the young YouTube celebrity, The Voice reality contestant and established musician 22-year-old Christina Grimmie, gunned down by a deranged young man before he in turn killed himself. It ended with the horrific mass shooting at the gay bar Pulse, where 49 men and women lost their lives, and countless more saw their lives forever altered, shaken, and shattered.
The White House Summit on Women was held this week on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 and it was a great privilege to be among those invited to participate in this inaugural event. There was an incredible line up of speakers and so much was shared. It proved to be an overwhelming day – in a very good way. Topics addressed included violence against women, economic empowerment, and education. In addition to the main event, there were breakout sessions on a myriad of topics presented by the most preeminent authorities in their fields. I walked away from the day with a sense of urgency to find news ways to engage gender issues and social policy. However, I also wondered how to bring religion into the dialogue and give greater attention to its impact on women’s issues in the US. Continue reading “Religion and the #StateofWomen by Gina Messina”
Remember the loss, because we’re going to need it for the tomorrows to come and for those that need our protection the most: the next generation. Remember, we are Orlando; now, tomorrow, and always.
I want to tell you a short story about the small town of Ripon, WI. On May 19, the local newspaper, The Ripon Commonwealth, which has served as the town’s paper since 1864, published a story regarding the political right’s uproar concerning President Barack Obama’s executive order that all public schools must allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom which matches that of their gender identity. Angry and upset, the paper’s education reporter wrote an article expressing his clear disdain for the President and also expressing a clear lack of empathy, understanding and sheer bigotry towards the transgender community.
Growing up in Ripon, I always read the paper when it came out on Wednesday evenings. Those of you who grew up in a small town can attest to the luxury of seeing friends, family members, and even the smallest ongoings in one’s town in print for the entire town to see and talk about. However, one thing I never saw in the paper was the clear hate I read in Mr. Becker’s article (the author of said piece). Enraged, I immediately asked myself: what can I do? Having connections back in Wisconsin, I immediately turned to friends who owned businesses, a friend who is the Director of a vocal and important group in the town, and community organizations and friends to begin to write letters. Continue reading “Remember by John Erickson”