It’s hard not to feel hate.
It’s hard when you see the jokes start circulating on social media less than 24 hours after 49 people lost their lives. It’s hard when you hear people like Donald Trump using the tragedy to further his own agenda, oblivious to the raging pain of loved ones left behind. It’s hard when you see the stories of heroism overshadowed by tabloid sensationalism.
There are so many things wrong with the Orlando tragedy. It is yet another terror attack, chipping away at the feeling of security within our borders. It is the loss of innocence, as young people who have felt safe and secure in their identity now have to be afraid to gather together.
More than anything, it is the senseless loss of life. Innocent people, who did nothing wrong, gunned down in cold blood. These are people who loved others, who made others laugh, who created memories. And now they will primarily be remembered with blood…tears…anguish. And for what? So someone could have his 15 minutes of fame, even in death? So their deaths could be used as a political tool to help cold, unfeeling people achieve their personal agendas? Or is it something more basic – that someone adopted the frighteningly common viewpoint that those who are different don’t deserve to exist in society?
But you can’t fight ignorance with ignorance. You can’t fight stupidity with stupidity. And you can’t fight evil with evil. If that was effective, Jerry Springer and Maury Povich would have much more respect.
Compassion, forgiveness, and education must always win. If not, then we are lost as a country…and a race of people.
But the anger is still there. The feeling of injustice, the fatigue of yet another battle that most people never even have to fight. No one said the journey would be easy. In fact, you are pretty much guaranteed an uphill climb. So while it is hard not to feel hate, the more difficult road gives you the opportunity to make a real, lasting difference.
Below is an article about a candlelight vigil that appeared in our newspaper, AdVantage News:
Light in the darkness
Area residents come together to honor victims of shooting
By Fred Pollard
ALTON – When Jackie Spiker of Alton heard about a vigil being held Sunday evening at Bubby and Sissy’s, she knew what she needed to do.
Just after 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, a gunman armed with an assault rifle and handgun entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where a theme night saw more than 300 people in the club. By around 2:10 a.m., police were on the scene and a hostage standoff occurred, during which the gunman, now identified by police as Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce, Fla., called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS.
At 5 a.m., a SWAT team entered the club, freeing 30 people and killing the gunman.
President Obama called the incident an act of “terror” and “hate.” Sunday evening, people across the nation gathered at bars, clubs and other public places to hold candlelight vigils for the victims and their families and show unification among the LGBTQ community.
Mike “Bubby” Paynic and his sister, Debbie “Sissy” Paynic organized a public event on the back patio of the Bubby and Sissy’s bar at 602 Belle Street to recognize the shootings and allow those in the community to share support and encouragement. Rainbow flags were given out, and live music played softly.
Alton Mayor Brant Walker and Alton Police Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons spoke at the event. At the mayor’s request, patrols were increased throughout the area to ensure safety.
“Regardless of the motivation, this was a terror attack, a hate crime, and an act of cowardice,” Walker said.
The bar’s manager, Jason Brooks, helped everything to come together and did much of the leg work. He credits Spiker for initiating the idea for the vigil, and the mayor and police chief for making it a priority.
“I know we can handle our own, but it was good to see them there,” he said. “That goes a long way-more than they realize, I think.”
For Brooks, it just came down to the fact “people wanted a place to go and we wanted to give them that place.”
“It saddens me that everyone is taking this and jumping to the gun control issue,” he said. “I think it starts with love and respect for one another. When that happens, everything else falls into place.
“It was very cool that there were parents there with their kids, both gay and straight. The fact it became a family thing and they wanted to show their kids what is right means that there is still hope.”
People lined the back patio of the bar, holding candles and memorializing the dozens of people killed and injured in the Orlando attack. The names of the six known victims at the time were read aloud, with a moment of silence for each.
As someone who has seen the battles regarding equal rights, Spiker said there was a loss of innocence with the shootings.
“I remember what it was like to have to hide your affection, and those four walls of a bar was the only place we felt secure and safe,” Spiker said. “I think many young people don’t realize what it was like back then, and with this tragedy, they have had that freedom taken away from them a little bit.”
For Spiker, this was an opportunity to show support and lend a local voice.
“I needed to be there; you have to be willing to stand up for what’s right and do what you can for change.”