50 dead in recent Orlando nightclub shooting. Reflections on violence and self.

Miami, 2016

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. — Dalai Lama

This isn’t the worst mass shooting in US history.

Violence isn’t an isolated event. Whether it be against ourselves (e.g. the heroin epidemic), others (e.g. Orlando club shooting), or the very environments we live in (e.g. mass deforestation and the killing off of our wildlife), it’s an illness. To segment the madness is to mistake each incident being separate or even different. Fundamentally, they share the same origin. 

How many wars have been fought on this land, leaving thousands dead? We’re still fighting the same war despite each battle carrying a different name and face. 

The slaughtering of Native Americans. 

The near extinction of the wild Buffalos that once painted the mid West of the USA. 

The voiceless and forgotten in our prisons. 

Sandra Bland and the how many others she represents. 

Addicts shooting up heroin because they lack access to pricey pills. 

Trump. A man who openly preaches hate. And please, spare me the intellectual rationalization of why he’s a brilliant man who leverages hysteria, fear and yes, hate. The ends do not justify the means. 

The madness can be all consuming, such that it leads people to walk into a nightclub and rain hell on all those around them. Or for a presidential candidate to get on the mic and preach hate. 

It’s madness and yet, we have a choice. 

To see beyond fear. To see through the propaganda. To see to the root of what’s happening around us. 

How do we do better? How do we stop the violence? 

It start with us and the millions of micro-aggressions we enact against ourselves. 

It starts with radical self love, radical because in a world with so much fear and hate, to love yourself unconditionally is an act of rebellion. 

[This post is dedicated to all the innocent lives lost at the hand of hatred. May we all find forgiveness.]