An Orlando Massacre Journal of Reflection and Action

Most of my conversation in the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Orlando took place on Facebook in communion with people in my community. This post documents those reflections as they unfolded that day and since, forming something of a journal of grief and sense-making.

Sunday, June 12 7:58 am
‘THIS IS NOT GOD’S LOVE!!!!’ screamed a protester (who shames the name of Christ by claiming it) an arm’s length from me during last night’s Pride parade. I thought ‘you got that right.’

That is among the more printable of the things that this small, loud group hurled at us as we walked past in last night’s Pride parade. They were particularly incensed by the row of churches that showed up to proclaim the (genuine) inclusive nature of God’s love.

We don’t yet know many of the details about the shooting in Orlando – a shooting that took place in a nightclub much like the one in which Phyllis and I were hanging out into the early hours the other night.

But I do know these things, which I had planned to say today anyway and which take on a particular poignant, painful significance in light of this horrible event:

When you see us LGBTQIA folks celebrating Pride, realize that we are fighting for not only for dignity and inclusion, but for life itself.

We are celebrating our integrity and our full humanity in a society that that often denies it.

We are calling for a world that embraces our diversity and that understands this example of diversity as instructive – for we can help teach the rest of our culture that difference is a source of strength and wonder instead of fear, judgment, and hatred.

Even in this day, there is no shortage of people who would deny us the right to simply live as ourselves. The play we saw Friday night included a wrenching video clip of cases of physical violence to LGBTQIA people. This is not uncommon. And countless more lives are broken by the rejection and stigma that we face daily. That is the sinful behavior here.

There is nothing wrong with us. There is nothing related to our sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity that needs to be fixed or changed. We are proud of who we are because of who we are, NOT in spite of it.

I would not choose to be other than I am.

The day that we as a global culture learn to live and let live and to treat people with dignity and respect will be a grand day indeed.

We don’t know yet what led to the slaughter of a score of people in Orlando last night and the injury of many more, but it certainly has the marks of a hate crime. We certainly do know what leads to physical violence, awful insult, and soul injury to LGBTQIA people EVERY SINGLE DAY in this culture.

Please consider this morning if your words and your attitudes and your actions contribute to that. There is no neutral ground in this matter. We are fighting for our lives.

11:47 a.m. – Further news brings us the information that this club was the heart of the scene for Orlando’s Latino LGBTQIA population. LGBTQIA people of color face the dual brutalities of society’s racism and homophobia and it would appear they have born the brunt of this senseless slaughter. There are no words to convey what I feel.

8:06 p.m. –  I wrote this as a comment earlier, but it was buried in the long thread of my first post today – and I think it’s worth foregrounding (so I quote myself):

‘Fundamentalism comes in all forms. It can be found in religious and secular settings. It is a mechanism of power – human power, which has nothing to do with the power of faith or divine power, though it often claims that. It is the opposite of pluralism and dedicates itself through a range of violent exclusionary tactics (which include sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated social discourse) to the eradication of pluralism.

I am a pluralist, though I also operate with joy and intensity from my own social location. I respect the right of fundamentalists (whether they be Muslims, Christians, atheists, political ideologues, or any flavor) to live and believe. Their rights end when they move into broader cultural space because their dearest intent is to suffocate pluralist society by sucking the air out of it with their noxious ideological commitments.

My commitment to respond to dehumanization leads me to speak and act against fundamentalism in all of its forms. I have lived long enough, however, to recognize that it comes in far more forms than we commonly name (i.e., far beyond the Islam and the Christianity that we typically associate with extremism).’

I will add to that now: peace and prayers and love to all who – in myriad meaningful ways – counter the forces of dehumanization. It is essential work.

Monday, June 13 11:59 a.m.
Dear God, today I pray especially for all of those working in LGBTQIA service and advocacy organizations and groups, for they are dealing with their own grief while also trying to love and serve the whole community. Give them strength of soul and peace of heart and wisdom of word in all that they do – and rest and well-being for themselves. We offer our gratitude to them and to you. Amen.

Tuesday, June 14 9:56 p.m.
A reminder to my LGBTQIA friends – you can turn off the news if you need to. It’s okay. You can walk away from it for a while. Take care of yourself. The struggle and the honor of memory will still be there when you get back.

Wednesday, June 15 6:42 a.m.
May we remember today that kindness and advocacy need not be mutually exclusive.

May we be filled with both compassion and a whole-hearted commitment to justice for all.

May we honor that which is holy within each person and on this earth, even as we ask for accountability and discernment.

May we be wise.

8:10 a.m. –  If you are ally or friend of LGBTQIA people and especially LGBTQIA people of color – or want to be – or just respect people period – I have a suggestion.

Our cultural space is really, really noisy right now.

The LGBTQIA community is not of one mind about where we go from here (and that’s okay), though we’re pretty universal about taking note of and condemning individual and cultural homophobia.

So while we’re not monolithic, one way you can support people is to make room for our voices. You can listen, ask respectful questions (NOT devil’s-advocate, opinions-disguised-as-questions, or argumentative questions) IF the person welcomes questions, and research and read what’s being said by LGBTQIA people about all the different issues.

This is about hearing, not about being heard yourself.

When you help to create that space where LGBTQIA people’s voices are made central, you are helping (even just a little bit) to shift the power in our cultural conversations. No one speaks for the whole community (ever – for any community), but there’s good learning in seeking out a range of perspectives.

I believe this to be good solidarity practice across the board, but today let us keep in mind the context of LGBTQIA people, Latino/Latinx folks, and the intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity, race, and ethnicity.

11:13 a.m. –  An update about tonight’s Religious Memorial Observance for the Victims of the Orlando Massacre (let me know if you have questions) –

we will gather tonight at 8:00 on the first floor of Beloved. After an opening welcome, there will be 5 separate spaces for prayer and reflection in honor of the lives lost and disrupted at Pulse in Orlando. You will be able to move among them according to your own needs. They are:

1) downstairs at Beloved – a diverse group of faith leaders from around the community will offer their prayers

2) upstairs at Beloved – a space for silent prayer, meditation, centering prayer, and silent worship. this space will also be open before the service beginning at 7:00.

3) at The Abbey – names and images of those who were killed

4) at The Abbey – a memorial creative art space

5) at The Abbey – a place to talk and pray individually with ministers and chaplains

We hope that all will feel welcome and that all can find a forum for their own grief and healing.

Thursday, June 16 7:06 a.m.
Prayer versus action – this is a false binary.

It’s not either/or. The best action is grounded in prayer*.

And the lessons of action give clarity to prayer.

These are complementary means, not opposite ones.

*as a Christian, I pray to a gracious and loving God in the name of the Incarnate Christ, but I’d certainly never say that is the only meaningful form of prayer. Translate for yourself and your own traditions or non-traditions accordingly.

Friday, June 17 7:06 a.m.
Sweet friends and family have been reaching out since the Orlando shooting to offer words of comfort, affirmation, and love. That’s meant a lot. And many of them (many of y’all 🙂 ) will also include a concern about safety. ‘Be careful.’ is the refrain.

Here’s the thing – I don’t feel any less safe after Orlando than I felt before it. That, sadly, is because I didn’t feel safe before Orlando. And I know very few LGBTQIA people who do feel wholly safe. And – with no disrespect intended at all – I think those few who do are probably not staring at the reality of things.

We construct communities of love and relationship – or at least the fortunate among us are in a place to do so – that provide for support and meaning in the rhythms of life.

But there are a lot of people that hate us, that consider us sinful, or find us disgusting. There’s an entire spectrum of dis-affirmation and down at the far end of it is a small violent group.

We are harmed by that whole spectrum – and that’s why I keep repeating that there’s no neutral ground. I want people to get off of that spectrum and locate themselves in a place that at least embraces ‘live and let live’ and eschews rhetoric about sin or anything less than the full humanity and dignity of LGBTQIA people.

But we are all – and always have been – at real risk of significant harm from genuinely dangerous people. The reality of that has been magnified by Orlando, but it was no less true before. People often remain closeted in whole or in part not because they are ashamed but because they are afraid. And they ought to be.

The awful murder of British MP Jo Cox yesterday further illustrates the vulnerability of good people to those who are willing to make their hatred manifest in the most brutal ways. That wasn’t about LGBTQIA issues, but it’s a related form of extremism that from all reports led to her death. I am 100% aware that in every public presence I claim as an out lesbian – and this is true for all of us – that it is good fortune that my path and that of some violent hater doesn’t cross. I am especially aware of that in terms of a pastoral presence. I am never not aware of it.

I want every-body to feel and be safe from needlessly inflicted harm. Queer bodies. Black bodies. Brown bodies. Disabled bodies. Poor bodies. Women’s bodies. Old bodies. And all of the intersections of those things. Every body. Every body to live knowing that their inherent worth as human beings – their right to live, to love, and to face each day with the integrity of a whole self – is fully respected by all.

That’s the world I strive for. It is not the world we have now. And I know it.

There is no neutral ground. Either you stand with love* across all our differences or you are somewhere on that spectrum that tips downward to the most horrible of places.

(* and some conservative Christians – will say “Oh, I love everybody. I just . . .” STOP RIGHT THERE. Where that sentence goes from there indicates that they really don’t get what the radical love of Jesus Christ is or means or demands of those of us who claim to be his followers. They do NOT love everybody because THAT.IS.NOT.THE.LOVE.OF.CHRIST.)

9:17 p.m. – It has been a week of horror and grief, including today the anniversary of the white-supremacy-driven killings at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston.

It has been a week of human connection that embraces and celebrates our diversity and our innate capacity for joy and relationship. We bear witness to the brutality, but all around me, people are responding with love. Real love and care and concern.

Amen and Amen.

Tonight Temple Emanu-El invited both the LGBTQIA community and the Muslim community to worship and grieve in a memorial in their Shabbat service. It was heartfelt, inclusive, and deeply resonant with the spirit (Spirit) of promise for a better world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Saturday, June 18 7:54 a.m.
A word I need to say:

if anyone were ever to come for my Muslim friends, they would have to come through me.

And I’m small, but I’m mean when people mess with my peeps.

Please don’t think you know anything about Islam if you are not in personal fellowship with any Muslims.

(and yes, that’s a dramatic statement, but given the nature of our sociopolitical discourse these days, I wanted to say something equally unequivocal)

(and yes, I feel that way about my other friends too, but this is the claim that is called for in this particular moment)

Sunday, June 19 7:59 a.m.
In a week where I have been critiquing the violent culture of toxic masculinity, it’s lovely to have a day to celebrate all the good men in this world.

I know a LOT of them and I’m sure you do too. Not only in my own biological family – my father, step-father, grandfathers, and uncles – but among my friends, the fathers of my friends (and now days the sons of my friends), and countless other men who put their energy into caring for the people around them and for the world.

I critique the culture of patriarchy, but I do so in the hope of freeing us ALL from the pressures that cause some men to miss the joy of living, the capacity to care, and the pleasures of non-conforming individuality. I count a bunch of non-conforming, open-hearted men as my chosen brothers in this world and the world needs more like them (even though they are nothing alike on the surface).

Keep fathering, good men, whether you are a biological father or not. The world needs you – and I’m grateful to travel in it with you.

9:59 p.m. – I’ve been thinking about how the victim total for the Orlando shooting was reduced from 50 to 49. The 50th fatality was the shooter, Omar Mateen.

Something bothers me about that. I had the same reaction about Newtown when Adam Lanza was removed from the count.

Now if I were an injured victim or a loved one of those killed or injured, I doubt I could manage any equanimity about these men. I would not make this argument to those people.

But most of us are not those people. We are a step or many steps removed and our perspective can be different. We can carry some of the load that those closer to the tragedy cannot.

I suggest that a part of that load is grieving for the man who did the killing and whatever happened in his life to turn him into the person who committed mass murder – and analyzing with some compassion (rather than just polarized vitriol) the factors that led to it.

None of us can know what peculiar alchemy turned Omar Mateen into killer, but we can look for the causes and try to deal with them. And we can pray for his soul and for the souls of other damaged people out there.

There are no simple answers – and we won’t find answers with simple judgments. I am not in any way recommending that we excuse the behavior or fail to hold people accountable.

But hurt people hurt people. And maybe if we can figure out what about our culture and our individual lives within it harms people to the point of their doing harm to others, we might make a difference.

Tuesday, June 21 2:53 p.m.
After I prayed last week at the Central Alabama Pride/City of Birmingham vigil, I was quoted in a local NPR-affiliate interview as saying “Our responses are what teach us how to live,” *

Tragic moments remind us that we want to live lives of genuine meaning.

We want lives that matter.

It doesn’t have to be on any grand global scale.

It’s really about living with integrity and commitment in whatever context you find yourself.

This is counter-cultural. Our culture insists that we must purchase something to bring ourselves that sort of contentment and connection. The system depends on our always wanting (convincing ourselves that we need) something more.

But the horrible moments, along with the truly joyous ones, reveal that for the fiction that it is.

Everyone of us can live a life that matters. That’s a choice we make in our engagement with one another every single day.

In this contentious season, I pray that we all remember this basic truth.

*(otherwise I probably would have forgotten I said it – but I’ve been reflecting since I read them on those words, which I did indeed say)

Sunday, June 26 2:28 p.m.
Been catching up on a couple of back yard chores this blazing afternoon and thinking about a book by the noted American Buddhist Jack Kornfield. It’s called ‘After the Ecstasy, the Laundry’ and it’s a skillful reminder of how we live in the realm of the daily even after moments of enlightenment and insight.

What I’m working with this afternoon – two weeks after waking up to the news about the Orlando shootings – is more the concept of ‘After the Tragedy, the Laundry.’

For those who are personally touched by horrible events, sometimes things are never the same. Our lives are surely as shaped by our losses as by our joys and triumphs. But often from a bit more remove we bear witness to the terrible things that happen in this world and then we move on. What else are we supposed to do?

Getting stuck is never a good option. The meaningful choice, I believe, is in how we go about moving forward.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cause-of-the-moment. It becomes a lightening quick grief fad.We can move on from that to the next awful thing – or to ignoring the next awful thing or to ignoring the chronic misery of many in our world. Or we can acknowledge that in this interdependent world we are all changed by the suffering of others. Then we choose to let that embitter us or open our hearts.

That’s our fundamental choice – slide right on by, turn ugly, or keep letting our spirits grow with a heart of compassion and care.

It’s really up to us. The laundry still has to get done. The backyard still has to be mowed. It’s really all about what we bring to it and what we give back into the world around us. That comes after ecstasy and it comes after tragedy – and it’s one better measure of the meaning of our time on this earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crucify Whom?

Today is Good Friday.

Whose bodies will we crucify today?

Black bodies?

Transgender bodies?

Undocumented immigrant bodies?

Muslim bodies?

Poor bodies?

Disabled bodies?

Lesbian bodies?

Addicted bodies?

Refugee bodies?

The body of the earth and its non-human living things?

Whose bodies will we crucify today?

 

if it’s always darkest just before the dawn, we ought to have one hell of a sunrise

If only every child could flee to Egypt
could go another way
when evil
creeps astride or
breaks the glass or
holds out its arms.

Bullets in babies
strangled boys huddled by their beds
girls who went to gather firewood and water
and instead found death.

School children and more
school children.

Though Herod got it wrong
the massacre of innocents has become
a daily feast of bloodshed.

 

 

 


* this was written a while back, but today I’ll add a dedication to the memory of Tamir Rice

 

The Problem of Daniel Holtzclaw’s Tears

Yesterday former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of 18 counts of rape and other forms of sexual violence. His victims were poor black women, age 17-50, in the community he was charged with protecting.

He preyed on these marginalized women because he thought no one would take their allegations of wrongdoing seriously. Apparently since there were 13 known victims, it took quite a while before anyone did.

I noticed Holtzclaw cried yesterday at the reading of the jury’s verdict. I wonder if I have ever had less sympathy for someone’s tears.

Nope.

However, I am praying for him today, that his heart and his soul might be healed of whatever horror possesses him. And I am most certainly praying for the women he terrorized and harmed, particularly after Holtzclaw’s attorneys predictably centered their defense strategy on defaming the victims.

In his violence, Holtzclaw brutally denied the value, the dignity, and the humanity of his victims – in a world that already systemically conveyed that message to them because of who they are.

I am working hard against my own temptation to view him as a monster. For the minute I do so, I strip away not only a sense of his humanity, but I also shred my own conviction that I must recognize the full humanity of all people. All people. Even the ones who commit monstrous acts. Even the ones who are so damaged that we (and they themselves) cannot see how they too are made in God’s image.

I am glad that some form of justice was done, whether or not it was complete (apparently the jury did not believe some of the complainants). I am glad that Holtzclaw will be sent to prison for his deeds – and hopefully with the full force of the law will serve a long sentence. I still have no sympathy for his tears. I have a whole heart of sympathy for his victims.

And I keep reminding myself: our casual cultural impulse to dehumanize is a part of the root problem.

I must thus continue in my effort not to dehumanize him in my own heart and mind.

An important task, but not an easy one.

On Being Both Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion

In response to a discussion about violence and capital punishment a while back (which you can find here – http://bit.ly/1OUdMgi), a friend asked me about my views on abortion. When another friend inquired earlier this week about a link to those comments, it occurred to me that these particular nuances might be worth posting here. I don’t think I can rework them in any way that would make them better, so I’ll just go with the original format.

This is an incredibly difficult and divisive issue. People are so polarized that I have a difficult time locating myself within the broader conversation. But I suppose that’s no excuse for not trying, particularly in light of the recent controversies around Planned Parenthood (and for the record, I appreciate Planned Parenthood’s role as a provider of women’s healthcare).

Here is the original question: “You’ve been very vocal about this particular case and others concerning peoples right to live. I appreciate your perspective and general feelings on valuing human life. However, I can’t seem to find any posts that state your feelings on abortion. Curious where you stand on that issue.”

And this is my response:

It’s a big issue to step into in the context of this [other] big issue, but I think it’s a fair question in that context.

I am both pro-choice and anti-abortion. I would prefer to live in a world where no one felt they needed to make the choice to have an abortion – and to achieve that we must change our culture, so that we do not stigmatize sexuality and varied patterns of human relationships. We must provide services that enable people to have a dignified life, even in the context of an economy that does not and, as far as I can tell, never again will offer enough living wage jobs.

We must offer comprehensive sex education to young people and make birth control readily available to all people – because people are going to have sex – and to do so in a manner that respects their bodies and their relationships, that’s most likely to happen in a context of having good information and good supports.

We must value all efforts to create and maintain loving families – whether that family is a single mom or single dad, a same-sex couple, a multigenerational family, or an opposite sex parent family. It does indeed take a village, so we need to foster institutions that emphasize our interdependence as people and as a planet – so that everyone has a community of choice that supports them in the effort of raising a child.

We need to make adoption a workable process rather than a for-profit industry (and I realize that there are good folks out there doing good work in this area, so I’m not making that a wholly blanket statement).

We need to value the bodies of women rather than objectify them (and of men as well).

We need to change the predominant (note: not all, but the loudest voices) anti-abortion culture from one of condemnation and anger and shouting and moralizing and even hatred to one of unconditional love, caring, and material support that lasts up until at least the age of 18.

We need to stress a consistent life ethic – that the lives of all, indeed of all of creation, have value. Thus in my opinion the logical tie-in to the death penalty.

And in the end, I do believe that a woman has the ultimate voice of control over her own body. We don’t place chastity belts on all men to prevent rape, so we apply one set of standards to women and another to men. I would hope and pray (and work – in my best social justice activism sense) that we could achieve the world I’m talking about in which no one felt the need to exercise that right. But I do believe it is a right, even if I am troubled by the outcome.

I also feel that if people want to prevent abortions they should – we should work together – for the sort of world I describe above, which is very much to me reaching for the enactment of God’s vision of justice and mercy and love here on this earth.

That is what I think and what I believe.

One final thought – you are correct that I do not often speak about abortion specifically. But if you take that last paragraph I wrote with its vision for God’s vision of justice and mercy and love, that is what I work for and it is an inclusive vision. I don’t know a lot of people – a few, but not a lot – who occupy the same ground that I do about this topic, so it’s ground that I tread with some particular care, given the violent noise that tends to come up around this issue.

I also tend to speak out most on topics that I feel I have some clarity about – and abortion has never been an area of easy clarity for me. There was a time when I would have simply labeled myself pro-choice, but my views have evolved over time – evolved, however, in spite of not because of the mainstream of the anti-abortion movement (which I think repels rather than attracts people who might be willing to explore the complexities of the issue).

I also would not consider most (not saying all – just saying the ones I’ve familiar with) anti-abortion conversations and work to be safe space for me as an out lesbian Christian woman and seminarian. I have enough to do – and have to take enough care on a daily basis to maintain safe spaces for myself and my family – that I will not seek out places that are likely to be harmful to me personally.

I appreciate the conversation – and you. That bit that I mentioned in the middle of that first long response comment – about a consistent life ethic. I understand that phrase and that movement to come from some parts of Catholic activism. I am always willing to be in dialogue with and to look for shared space with people who subscribe to that ethic (and with others too, but sometimes that gets more complicated).

We are all on this journey together and for me it is always a journey of learning. So I welcome connections with that conversation, provided that others involved can find it in their hearts to be respectful of me.

That’s all I’ve got on this subject at this time.

 

Violence is Fast

The late writer and activist June Jordan offered many wise words, but this succinct insight from a 1990 essay is one of her greatest:

“Violence is fast.
Other things take time.”

This sets up a central problem in our daily lives and our global journey today.

Violence is fast. Other things take time.

It takes time to heal.
It takes time to listen.
It takes time to research.
It takes time to grow trees.
It takes time to share a meal.
It takes time to alleviate poverty.
It takes time to create relationships.
It takes time to negotiate differences.
It takes time build good social programs.
It takes time to sit down in honest conversation.
It takes time to understand differentials of power.
It takes time to show love when you don’t like someone.
It takes time to devise alternatives to military engagement.
It takes time to protect ecosystems and plan sustainable growth.
It takes time to create jobs and healthcare access and social inclusion.
It takes time to listen to voices of dissent and to see our shared humanity.

Violence is fast. Other things take time.

Acts of Creative Resistance: 12 Ways to Subvert the Intention of Terror

1) Be kind to everyone you meet.

2) Be not afraid. Or be afraid, but act from a place of love instead of from a place of fear.

3) Create things. Terror hates art and music and free expression of the life of the spirit.

4) Read books. Read lots of books. Read books about a wide variety of topics. Terror hates independent learning and critical thinking.

5) Learn about the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. Seek out multiple perspectives on their history, culture, and conflict. Read fiction in translation, listen to music from these regions, and read online English language newspapers, magazines, and blog sites produced there.

6) Reach out to your Muslim neighbors. Build relationships. Learn about Islam. Learn about Islam from Muslims themselves. After 9/11, I visited a local mosque during Friday prayers as an act of both solidarity and curiosity. I was received with great kindness – and have always been greeted with hospitality from Muslims encountered elsewhere.  (bonus: other interreligious relationships are good too)

7) Root our defiance of terror in our love for the world (the whole world and its people and all of creation) rather than in anger, bitterness, or hatred.

8) Admit that the United States has often not been a benevolent presence in the world, that we’ve caused (and do cause) harm and pain. Admit we have problems in our country of our own making. Admit to the troubled parts of our history and our current national reality and work toward national accountability.

9) Admit the United States is in many ways a great country. It is our home and we heal it best through our love. Love it enough to want to work with others to make it better, to make it live up to its ideals. This is an act of citizenship and of courage.

10) Look beyond the cable and network news 24/7 focus on any one issue of the moment. Technology gives us access to information from global perspectives. Evaluate the source of news and consider its ideological underpinnings. Recognize that all sources and all people operate from a place of ideology.

11) Pray for the whole world and all the people in it, without exception.

12) Live life with all the joy you can muster, while yet ever acknowledging the world’s pain.

For the Grief of the World – the Grief of the Whole World

I awoke this morning thinking not only about the horrible attacks in Paris, but about the fact that around 4 dozen people were killed in a terrorist attack in Beirut on Thursday.

Last night I grieved publicly for the deaths in Paris.

On Thursday I said nothing.

There are thousands of people killed on a daily basis around the globe in spasms of senseless violence, in ideological moves for power and control.

Most of the time I say nothing. Most of the time if I stop to grieve at all its in the abstract.

One shred of clarity I have in midst of all of this horror is the conviction that no one life ought to be valued more than any other. According to my faith (and many other faiths and the beliefs of people of no faith at all in their own ethical language), we are all precious children of God.

It may be easier for me as an urban person of European descent to identify with urban European people out for an evening’s meal or music who die a needless death. And the incidents in Paris are a deep, deep tragedy.

But neither must I allow myself the luxury of grieving only them. I must not overlook and must not forget the violence we humans do to one another (and to the earth) on daily basis. Its sheer magnitude is heartbreaking and daunting. But that fact must not keep us from finding ways to care for one another, That fact must not keep us from working to bring about peace and justice for all people.