One week after the bullets stopped flying at an Orlando club – leaving 49 people dead – the impact of the killings stubbornly remains behind.
But maybe that is a good thing.
“I’m sorry about what happened to your community,” I said to a friend this week. Openly gay, he had tears in his eyes as we hugged.
While some may wish to consider the shootings as another example of guns gone wild, there is a certain element of this particular tragedy that may inadvertently push the general population to a tipping point. In the wake of the tragedy, the American public shifted.
No better example may exist than that of a grandmother traveling to Orlando aboard a JetBlue flight to attend the funeral of her grandson, a victim of the deadly shooting.
As a flight attendant learned of the passenger’s journey – one no one should ever have to take – she passed a single sheet of paper to passengers if they’d like to offer words of comfort or support. No one asked the flight attendant to do this – nor did the passengers have to participate.
And then a peek into our new world began to show its face.
“Halfway down the aisle, another crew member on board said more paper was needed. Instead of signing their names and moving on, passengers were writing paragraphs—long notes of compassion, grief and strength, “ reported CNN.
“When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears,” the attendant would write on her personal FaceBook page.
But the grains of sand kept shifting, creating what may indicate the new landscape for all of us.
As the plane landed and passengers began to debark, each took the time to stop by and offer their condolences to grieving grandmother.
“Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process”, she wrote.
If you’ve a heart, you cannot help but be moved by the amazing outpouring of love without prejudice. If you’ve not shed a tear over this event, you’re probably not allowing yourself to fully understand and experience the pain that walks hand in hand with love.
I believe our country changed last week in ways the shooter could never envision. From where he hoped to create a toxic environment of hate, love sprung from the ground. If he wanted to change the world, well, he did.
But he missed one key calculation. We are a nation of decent, loving people. And if his goal was to divide us, he may very well have accomplished the exact opposite.