As we pour over the details of such malicious acts—first the act of terror and then the secondary wounding of continued hate—it becomes easy and even natural to get caught up in anger and judgment. The heartbreak becomes unbearable this way and brings us to a frozen state. We act as individual islands, isolated, seeing the other as bad.
But what struck me more than any gruesome detail of the Orlando shooting and aftermath was watching Anderson Cooper interview a mother of one of the victims. She was so filled with love and forgiveness. She talked with pride about her deceased son. She stayed with love. It was really extraordinary to watch and even Anderson had to bow in reverence to this woman. It’s absolutely humbling to witness this kind of love because it’s a reminder that no matter how great the tragedy, we can be love. That’s inside of all of us.
The invitation is there for us: lower the walls of separation. I’ve been taught that compassion is a movement of the heart. Orlando can be a teacher to us—to move with our hearts. These heartbreaks can compel you toward activism, great or subtle. We can lobby for sweeping policy change or we can go home and bring more tenderness to the people we love. Our change of heart is a radical act and there is no gesture that is too small if it’s done in love.
Let’s always remember the things that break our hearts open.