As I wrote this, I was not sure I was going to share it. What happened in Orlando this weekend is too big and too terrible for words to wrap around. But at the same time, it feels terribly wrong let it pass without comment.
These random acts of violence and terror just keep happening.
It happens so often they start to blur together—how many died in that one again? Was that the one in Texas or Colorado? Which one was Navy Yard again?
Within a matter of just years, there has been a shooting incident near where each of my family members live, including two separate places that I have lived when the shootings occurred. One was just blocks from my home in the Navy Yard neighborhood of D.C. Right now I live about an hour from Orlando.
But this isn’t about me. The point is, there have been so many shootings at this point that most of you are probably nodding your heads right now because they’ve happened near you and your loved ones, too.
It has happened so many times I don’t know that I can take them all in anymore. When I read of yet another mass shooting, it no longer feels real. (Did it ever feel real?)
At the same time, each one chips away at me.
Every time, i see myself more in the horrific first-hand accounts. I see my husband, my siblings, my friends. Because the more it happens, the more likely it is to happen again.
As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I see something else, when these things happen—and really, perhaps this has nothing go do with spending half my time in alternate and possible future worlds. Perhaps we’re all thinking it. The big question is, what does everyday life start to look like when every time we go out to a club, every time we go to a movie, every time we go out on Saturday night, we have to start accepting that we might be part of the next random act of violence?
In my mind, it looks like people becoming more closed off. It looks like trust between neighbors eroding away. It looks like people who shut themselves into their houses, and joy and celebration fading from public life. It looks like empty streets, bleak greys and hooded figures who don’t dare get close to each other, who always know where the closet exit is, just in case.
This is not a world I want to live in.
When Monday’s TODAY Show took a break from Orlando to recap of the Tonys of all things, it was a shock—oh yeah, that. Other things are happening, too. The rest of the world keeps spinning.
So to go from the Orlando shooting to a recap of the Tonys, well. It’s strange. It feels odd. It makes “who wore what” a ridiculous question, and it makes “how many nods get Hamilton get” feel silly.
And then Lin-Manuel Miranda stands up and recites an incredible poem that reminds us that “Love is love is love is love is love.” That love and—and does—still win.
Then OneBlood in Orlando has to start urging people to come back later to give blood for the shooting victims, because they are over their capacity thanks to an overwhelming response of support from the community.
And a thousand other swells of support.
And I think—yes, this was a terrible, unimaginable act of terror. For the 49 people who died and their loved ones, things will never quite set right.
But there is still something stronger and bigger than hate out there. As Miranda declared in his poem, “Hope and love last longer.”
Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s full poem here.
My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.