From the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a terrorist opened fire, 30-year-old Eddie Justice texted his mother.
“Mommy I love you. In the club they [’re] shooting. Call police. Im gonna die”.
Trapp in the bathroom.
His mother texted back,
“Calling them now. U still there? Answer your phone. Call me. Call me”.
“Call them mommy. Now. Im still in the bathroom. Hes coming. Im going to die.”
Eddie was among the 49 people who didn’t make it. This touches my heart. Notice that Eddie’s texts began with “Mommy I love you.” Understandably in the final moments, there was fear in the hearts of everyone in that club, but what triumphed was LOVE. When those 50 people were facing the end, they weren’t thinking about how much they hated the terrorist. They were thinking about all the people they’d never see again and how much they would miss being here with their beloveds.
In my office we have been talking about these tragedies that are occurring in our society and in our world, and there is a stem of frustration that we feel hopeless to some extent to create change. It’s like this horrible thing has happened, but what do we do about it? Our country and those that have the money to help run it hold strongly to our constitution and our rights and there is fear behind making any change. As Obama recently related to a member of the NRA, he doesn’t want to take away people’s right to bear arms, he simply wants to make it much more of a process to obtain them. Like, what we have to do to get a driver’s license for example. But he’s up against many. His thoughts aren’t what write laws. Nor are the hearts of so many of our country men and women. We want the violence to stop…. But we feel powerless. Every time a shooting happens, we do more than just change our profile pictures and move on, we mourn, and we struggle to understand how to make it stop. But then what? We ask the world; help.
Last night, in a small attempt to act, I lead a class of 49 sun salutations; 1 salutation for every life that was lost during this horrific massacre. Many people from my community came and we gathered in a circle to open our hearts and celebrate the lives of those who were lost. As I was preparing for the event, I kept having to ask myself what approach to take. Should I play somber music, should the tone be sad, should we speak about the issue (gun control), should we remain silent, what type of speech should I open it with? Slowly I began to plan, just taking one small step at a time. I listened to Obama address the nation, I listened to presidential nominees, I listened to Steven Colbert, I listened to Lady Gaga. I tried to take in points of view from every angle and then, I had to open my heart. Music is and always has been a vehicle of emotion for me. So one song at a time I created a playlist in the mind that the people who lost their lives that evening were in a dance club, on Saturday night, having fun, being who they were- in all their perfection- so I knew that I didn’t want this to be a sad practice, but a practice of celebration and most of all connection. From Madonna to Macklemore we had artists who have spoken out about human rights guiding the way.
There were countless tears shed as we moved and there were even moments of laughter and at the end when it was all done, we sat closely, holding one another hand in hand and rested in the heart of pure awareness. Maybe we aren’t able to take down and change the gun laws and regulations today or tomorrow, but we were able to stop for a moment and recognize that we have the power to create change by the way we show up in the world. By choosing love over fear every time. It is my hope that we can find greater change in our world around these topics of strife. It is of even greater hope that we can learn to accept one another and live peacefully despite our difference, or even INSIDE of our differences. So ask yourself everyday, what are you choosing, in every moment, love or fear- and see how that, all by itself, can create change in the world.
In pure love.