by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside
I have no words.
Each time I have tried, I well up and cannot seem to put a coherent sentence together. I have no words to express the pain, the fear, the shock and the anger.
I am scared for our community.
Since Sunday morning this is what I have done: Like you I have mourned, I have been angry, I have cried and I have yelled. I have hugged my daughter and my husband, called my mom and my sister, reached out to my family and friends in the LGBT community, sought some sort of answers through my faith.
What I have not done is spend much time on social media, or even traditional media because I simply could not bear to read the things that I have read too many times before: “we are better than this; love will find a way; we must come together…” Yes, of course; all of this. And more.
We each could have written the scripts for the responses. We know what our religious leaders will say, our political leaders, even the gun rights lobby. We have heard it. We have heard this conversation, this call to action, we have heard it, in the last months, only days ago. We have heard it all.
This slaughter of innocent people -- brothers and sisters -- is beyond heartbreaking. It is beyond comprehension. It is our sad reality.
What happened in Orlando has now been characterized as the worst mass shooting in modern history. Mass shootings have become so common place that there are graphs indicating where each incident falls, scaled by numbers and fatalities.
I do not want to live in a community that tracks mass murders.
At what point did we decide the problem was too big and could not be prevented?
At what point did we give up hope?
At what point did we decide that our leaders cannot solve this, and that we would agree to simply blame them and just move forward.
I choose not to give up. I will not live in a world of hate.
Where is that point when we say enough is enough? This is not the world in which I want to live. This is not the community we each are working so hard to build. Our community is not based on hate.
We are working to build a community of hope, of love, of equality and of understanding. This is our community.
I will not pretend, ignore or forget.
Today, I signed up to donate blood.
Today, I will make donations to organizations that are actively working to reduce hate, promote equality and stop violence.
Today, I offered kindness.
Today, I wrote a letter to my lawmaker and expressed my belief about what I think can be different.
Tomorrow I will come up with some new things to do.
If you want some help with your own “todays,” here are some links you might find helpful:
Remembering the departed:
(Simply reading the list of names does not capture their lost love, optimism and futures. But it’s a small way to pay personal respects.)
Funders for LGBTQ Issues:
Central Florida Foundation and the City of Orlando for the newly created OneOrlando Fund:
The Florida Philanthropic Network, with ideas on a number of outlets to support the tragedy.
I would love to hear about what you are doing for solace, for peace, for love.