Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Viktor E. Frankl
I sat last week, like so many of you, contemplating not only the atrocity that occurred in Orlando, but of course the myriad atrocities that seem to be occurring with clock-like regularity in cities all over the world.
And, like so many of you, I felt completely overwhelmed.
Ancient Greek mythology tells the story of Hercules’ battle with the multi-headed, demon-snake Hydra. According to the myth, Hydra had 9 venom-spewing heads – with one head that was immortal and indestructible. As soon as Hercules would cut off one of the nine heads, two more faces would arise out of the wound – creating a disorienting army of terror – and paralyzing fear.
Where do you start?
How do you fight back?
New York, Boston, San Bernadino, Paris, Brussels, Russia, Turkey, Egypt – and on and on and on.
And now Orlando.
Where do we start?
How do we fight back?
Like Hydra, the mythic multi-headed snake – this visitation in Orlando – this scourge – this very real darkness – shows many faces.
It comes cloaked as jihad, as anti-Semitism, as anti-Christian, as Islamophobia, as homophobia, as racism.
It comes cloaked in reasons and justifications and blame.
This Hydra, this darkness, this cancer, this disease wants us to believe it is many things – and many people – and it whispers their names in our ears.
It’s the Arabs – or the Jews
It’s the gay people – or the straight people – or the “Other”
It’s the Atheists
It’s the immigrants
It’s the Christians – or the Hindus
It’s the black, white, red, yellow or brown people.
It’s the Muslims.
But that – is a lie.
This darkness, this Hydra, this travesty today, is only ONE thing, as it has always been.
It is the original evil.
It is the evil born at the beginning of time – at the first awareness that there was something other than love.
It is the evil that begat all the evil we have ever known.
… And it is called “hate.”
And it has been the same hate – called by different names – throughout history.
Now dressed as Stalin
Now dressed as Hitler
Now dressed as Pol Pot
Now dressed as the KKK
Now dressed as ISIS
It is the same hate that killed Jesus, killed Gandhi, killed Kennedy and killed Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is the hate that kills.
It is slavery hate.
And genocide hate.
And rape hate.
It is homophobia hate
And racist hate
And immigrant hate.
It is the hate of the “Other.”
It is the hate that has reappeared in every generation, from time immemorial, trying to suffocate us with hopelessness
Trying to crush us with despair.
And – we do despair.
And we are – heartbroken and fearful and raging.
And yes, we may feel hopeless.
For a moment.
For just a moment.
And then we rise up….
As we have done before…. knowing that our salvation rests in our unity.
We rise up – as we have done before – when darkness comes to our door.
We rise up from our fear.
We clasp hands – and we rise up – from our despair
and our heartbreak
and our hopelessness.
We clasp hands – and we rise up – in our anger – and – yes – our outrage – and we transform that anger and that outrage into determination.
And we rise up together – now united in our common purpose.
We rise up because we can.
We rise up because we must.
As free people…
AS FREE PEOPLE…
We unite and rise up – and we do what the generations before us have done.
We begin the Hero’s journey we have been called to take.
We become the Heroes we need to be.
The task seems great… the odds look bleak. Because this hate – this current hate – is directed at our freedom.
It is directed at our joy.
It is directed at our humanity.
It is directed at our spirit.
No one is immune.
The task seemed great. The odds were bleak – but Hercules defeated Hydra.
Hercules defeated Hydra – when he understood he could not do it alone.
We cannot do it alone.
So – we – mourn – together – and we rise up – together – and we clasp hands – together – and we take a deep breath…
And we begin.
I AM. YOU ARE. MIGHTY.
Speak to Understand