essays on suffering and awakening

Brief thoughts on a bloody night

50 people were shot to death last night in an Orlando nightclub. Another 53 were wounded. The man who shot them died at the scene. He said he fought for the Islamic State.

I feel scared and angry and helpless and sad. When I saw the headline, I actually read it twice because I couldn’t believe it the first time. It didn’t seem real.

All I have to say is this: now is a time to double down on love and kindness and honesty. The man who killed these people did so because he was full of fear. Fear drives us into the arms of madness.

We can fight fear with fear, but it doesn’t work. Not in the long run anyway. It just creates more fear.

What works, subtly and with unstoppable power, is love. When we act with love, fear fades away. It can't sustain itself.

The president will order violence against the Islamic State in response to the violence at home. Maybe that’s the right thing to do. Maybe it isn’t. I honestly don’t know.

I do know that all of us sitting on the sidelines can help by opening our hearts. We can open them to the people who were killed and wounded, and to their pain. We can open them to their friends and families, and to their pain. We can open them to the police and emergency workers who responded, and to their pain. We can open them to the man with the gun, who brought great evil with him and was therefore surely in pain. We can open them to his family, and to their pain.

We can hold space in our hearts for all those people and all that blood. There’s room for it. It’ll hurt, and that’s okay. Our love and our pain will honor theirs.

Ian Cooper