Like so many members of the LGBT community, I've had a hard time processing my thoughts after Orlando. Americans are being told how to feel, how to react and what to think about the shootings by just about every person and group out there.
Donald Trump wants Muslims and gay people to hate each other. Many Democrats want a ban on assault rifles. Members of the LGBT community are upset that people are ignoring that this attack was, first and foremost, a hate crime against one of the few truly safe spaces we have.
Yet, the part that I can't escape is how short all of the responses fall. When those fifty lives were taken, the possibilities for mankind shrank. Each death ripples out and bends across the great arc of history in an unbroken chain of cause and effect, long past the horizon of our lifetimes. We will never know what we really lost.
But hopelessness is peddled by demagogues, not healers - and our country needs to heal. Political solutions will need to be found, and that does involve restricting assault rifles and tackling the long-term issues with LGBT discrimination in our culture that contributed to Omar Mateen's mindset. However, even that can not come close to making up for the destruction of human life.
It's time we shot back and righted the wrong. It's time we killed our culture of hatred with kindness. The only proper response to Orlando, and the only response that can avenge the deaths of 49 young men and women, is to wield the arms of compassion and fight back. If each bullet was an act of hatred, an expression of the destruction of humanity, then we need to respond with acts of universal kindness, compassion and creation.
We can not revive our dead, but we can change the course of history. The planting of a tree, or smiling and encouraging a child, is a deadly salvo of kindness fired at the heart of hatred. Buying the next person in line a cup of coffee, or thanking a veteran or first responder for their service, is a shining monument to human goodness standing against Omar Mateen's barrage of bullets. Reaching out to a family member and asking them how they're doing, or picking up a piece of litter on the side of the road, is a cannonade of consideration that can blow away the ash of nihilism in the souls of those around us.
The truth is, if you believe that the universe is governed by cause and effect, then you have to also believe in the profound consequences of our kindness. We can not revive our dead, but we can change the course of history. It's time we confronted the politics of hate with the politics of love.
My challenge to you is this: for each person murdered by Omar Mateen, commit one act of kindness. If you don't know any gay people, go to a pride celebration this month and give someone a hug. If you don't know any Muslims, go to a mosque and tell someone they're wonderful. Break out of your daily norm. Burst out of the chains of your indifference and feel the warm sunlight of brotherhood. Only kindness can unite us. If we all join together and make the world just a little bit kinder, then we can turn the poison of Orlando into a medicine for all mankind.