Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Remembering Orlando

A speech in memory of the victims of Orlando, compiled from this moment, and too many other reactions to other moments of violence.

the memorial I designed: meant to move, and to move us
each name of the known lost victims
To My LGBTQ Family:
This memorial isn’t honest without acknowledging our LGBTQ family. Humans died. We’re all human. We all mourn. But our brothers and sisters here were targeted. In their safe space. Because of who they are. They live with the same grief I have, but complicated by fear, and a burden to continue living against the grain of long held biases, myths, lies, judgments and institutionalized languages and structures of exclusion.

To you, my family: You’re tired. I know it. I felt the wind go out of the earth when you sighed, and many of you mourned from the safety of your beds. You’re overstretched. You’re suffering. You’re trying to live your life, but also having to fight to do so. Taking the time to confront your reactions - to lean into your mourning - with the added burden of doing it publicly and representatively adds an exhausting layer of complexity to your grief.

Let me carry this burden with you. Teach me how to pick up the hammer that dismantles the words and institutions putting you outside the family and leaving you vulnerable. Forgive me for perpetuating brokenness, for cowardice in your cause, for not asking you sooner for this education.

To all of us – I have a reminder in the weakness of grief and pain:

Our society doesn't prepare us to live in the weakness of the time for mourning. We act. We opine. We argue... We escape. We make decisions without the wisdom of deep experience. We deny our suffering, bending our impaired hearts and minds toward superficial interpretations. Rhetoric and arguments lend us a false sense of control and power in the relative helplessness of suffering.

But, by refusing the journey of grief, we stave off healing.

Our task for this time is to mourn. To weep. To grieve. To be present to our suffering. To select symbols that remind us why our hearts
feel burdened even in times of levity. To connect. To validate the weeping and grieving of our neighbors.

We mine the depth of our brokenness over the loss of these people. 

We reject the tendency to let fear drive us to positions of power, anger, violence, judgment, and war.

Instead, we choose presence. It takes courage to face the darkness of these nights and acts. It takes community and intimacy and love to overpower them. 

Reach out. Bring in. Blend. Open.

Take comfort in knowing this time belongs to itself. The time of laughter will follow. That time is not our concern. Live this moment, now. It enriches and informs the time to come. 

May we aspire to a love that sows words and behaviors of peace and connectedness – a love of self-giving and self-sacrifice. May we love lavishly, and be willing to share our power with those more in need. May honesty in failing and suffering and loving and living knit our world more closely together, and create a safer space for us all.

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