Admittedly, I limped into the past week candidate-less and nearly party-less, disaffected by the conservative base and the seemingly unprincipled party elite now rushing to enable that base. From this sad-sap space, I'm viewing most events with skepticism at best and downright fury more often. As much as I want to relish the nomination of a woman by a major party, I can't get past Hillary Clinton's policies, even as I agree with the brilliantly-expressed sentiment that I'd prefer Chef Boyardee over Donald Trump.
So when Donald Trump employed his characteristic maturity in tweeting about the President's endorsement of Crooked Hillary, I was annoyed. When Clinton respond with the now infamous though clearly manufactured "Delete your account," I rolled my eyes. When Trump referred to Elizabeth Warren (again) as Pocahontas and she responded with Twitter burns and a website redirect, I felt we were circling the drain.
But I really, truly lost it during the social media discussion about Orlando.
My reaction? Delete all the accounts. I can't take it anymore.
I can't take the blame game--as though the NRA or every Muslim is personally responsible for the deaths of 50 people who were out enjoying life. I can't take the rush to reinforce our own world-views, to show that now, this time, those who disagree with me must really be drowning in the realizations of their wrongness. I can't take the memes and the equivalent of bumper-sticker commentary coming at light speed in 140 characters. I can't take being told that we'd be saved if only we passed gun laws or if only we defeated the terrorists or if only we elected the proper congresspeople or if only we all just stayed at home because we are basically doomed anyway.
Regrouping, I listened to the brilliant (BRILLIANT) Andrea Gibson and remembered:
"When two violins are placed in a room if a chord on one violin is struck
the other violin will sound the note
If this is your definition of hope
This is for you
The ones who know how powerful we are
Who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings"
And it helped me start seeing those chords: first responders powering through their own trauma to speak with compassion and precision about notifying families and interviewing witnesses. A community lining up to donate blood. The Eiffel Tower being lit in honor of the victims.
My definition of hope today is that Americans unite in the face of tragedy. In some ways, it's hard to imagine a more complex situation than Orlando. This was an act of terror seemingly executed by someone who pledged allegiance to ISIS but who acted alone. This was a hate crime. This was a mass shooting. There are problems to be identified and solutions to be proffered related, some directly and others tangentially, to all aspects of this event. But in other ways, it's quite simple. This was evil, and we must stand together against it.
For all those with deliberative and reasoned opinions about what standing against it means, I ask that you use your account to sound the music in the people around you. Watching that kind of dialogue is my definition of hope.