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- Becky Vollmer

A Call for Peace in a World of Hate

June 13, 2016

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I was quiet yesterday about the horrible news of the nightclub massacre in Orlando because I just couldn’t quite process it. Forty-nine people dead and more than that injured. I wanted to write a message of peace and hope and love, but the words didn’t come. For 24 hours, no words at all. But, this morning, the words were there.

And they were mad.

I’m mad.

I’m mad at the politicians who have resisted — yeah, I’m gonna say it — gun control and instead have upheld a framework that makes it too easy for powerful automatic weapons to come into the hands of the wrong people. Civilians don’t need AR-15s. They just don’t.

I’m mad at people like Donald Trump, who don’t wait a second before making this about crucifying an entire religion that scares him, whose self-congratulatory words (on Twitter: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism…”) only fuel an inferno that so desperately needs to be extinguished.

I’m mad at the menace who walked into that nightclub where people were having fun, minding their own business, for the purpose of killing. He took it upon himself to end the lives of too many sons, daughters, cousins, friends, colleagues, students, and lovers.

I’m mad that all the extra law enforcement scrutiny in recent years — even investigations into this particular person — couldn’t have prevented this attack.

More than anything, though, I’m mad at us — the people, who, for whatever reason, believe they are entitled to steal another human life.

Not just terrorists. I’m talking about the gang-bangers, the psychopaths, the torturers, the wife-beaters. The cop-killers (and sometimes the cops, too). The Adam Lanzas and the Eric Harrises and the Dylan Klebolds and the Timothy McVeighs. The suicide bombers, the masterminds, the kings of genocide. Not to mention the rapists, the hostage-takers, the human traffickers, the pimps — any and all bullies around this world who use force and fear to ruin lives.

I ask you: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??

WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT???

Nothing. Nothing and no one gives you that right to play God.

You may have the capability. And you may have the will. But you do not have the moral authority.

This is where my anger turns into a sense of despair, because in low moments I fear that the words of one little suburban housewife clickity-clacking on her keyboard in safe, white, middle America are going to have precisely zero impact.

I know that I alone am not able to solve (or even influence) ingrained racism, bigotry or terrorism. I alone am not gonna convince ISIS to lay down their weapons and let go of their hate. I alone have no power to thwart the next mass shooting of innocent people. I alone can’t keep women and girls safe from being violated.

My lone voice feels pretty feeble in the face of so much madness around the world.

And yet it’s not.

It can’t be.

I won’t pretend to have the answers on how to fight against what feels so big, so terrifying, so systemic and unmovable. All I know is that those of us who hold dear the values of peace and hope and love — and there are a lot of us! — can’t just give up. No, we’ve got to speak up louder to advance the ideals of tolerance, compassion and understanding for humanity.

Here’s someplace we can start:

To all the families in Orlando — and Paris and Newtown, Mumbai and San Bernardino, Beirut and Baghdad— who have lost people they love, we grieve with you.

To the first responders who walked into the gruesome scene in that nightclub — and on that train and in that embassy and in that federal building and below the collapsed twin towers — we are horrified with you.

To the lawmakers who must find the courage and sensibility to build us a smarter, more responsible framework for gun ownership in America — we support you.

To those who hate, and act on that hate with deadly consequence — we pray that you will be touched by peace, and be removed of the urge to kill or oppress or terrorize. As Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

And to the world — I hope we can come together in love, tolerance and understanding, one person and one interaction at a time.

eye for eye

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You Are Not Stuck

I’m Becky Vollmer – writer, speaker, yoga teacher, seeker. I’m also living proof that, despite feeling otherwise, we are not stuck in circumstances and patterns that neither serve nor define us. We are lucky to have choices; we just have to be brave enough to make them.

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