Spare me the hypocrisy, America

It breaks my heart to write this, but I am angry and disappointed and hope that the shock sparks change.

Like many of you, I woke up this morning with a feed full of #NeverForget posts.

While it may make you feel good to see them and to share them, we have forgotten what it truly means.

What I see in this picture is a real attack on our freedoms.

All the rhetoric about how wearing a mask is an attack on your freedom just doesn’t compare, does it?

What I do not see in this picture are democrats or republicans. I do not see black or white, gay or straight, liberals or conservatives.  I see neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and friends…all part of our American family.

We say #NeverForget as if we will always remember, respect, and honor.

Yet even today, our country, the country I love, is still under attack.  Foreign enemies continue to attack our election processes, they continue to spread disinformation and division through social media, and they continue to try to hack campaigns and sow discord. 

We are under attack from within, by growing numbers of domestic terrorists, whether organized or individuals.  Hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and other types of discrimination are on the rise across the country, leading to an increase in violent attacks.

We are under attack from a disease that has ravaged countries around the globe and caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.  Even if you only believe the lowest of numbers, they are still significantly greater than our losses on 9/11.

Worse yet, we are under attack from each other, allowing partisan politics to divide us and undermine our institutions.  We are not each other’s enemies nor is a free press our enemy. 

So, what have we done to #NeverForget?  Not nearly enough.

We did not care enough to ensure the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation bill was reauthorized and funded until well over a decade after the attacks.

We did not care enough to go out and vote to ensure every voice is heard in our democracy.

We did not care enough to complete our census to make sure every person is counted.

We do not care enough to respect each other and the memories of those we have lost.

Sadly, instead of remaining united in the face of adversity, we have become the most divided this nation has seen since our Civil War.

We mock and denigrate each other because of our beliefs or political party affiliations.

We question each other’s patriotism and oppose everything that doesn’t fit our views, going so far as to tell each other to “leave if you don’t like it”.

We turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice and continue to sow racial division instead of working for equality and equity.

We continue to accept death; from COVID, from school shootings, from police misconduct, and from other forms of violence and disease as ‘acceptable’.

So, are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

#NeverForget cannot just be words or photos or memes on a page.  It must be in action and accountability.

Look back at your feed, at your words and actions. Have you truly been living up to those ideals?  Have you been respectful to your fellow citizens?  Have you taken action to unite or divide?  Have you supported those who have attacked or disrespected others? Have you been kind? Have you ‘unfriended’ someone because they believe differently than you?

Let us not forget that we are still a country at war.  Our troops are still serving in harm’s way.

If we cannot remain united and supportive, what exactly are they defending?

So today, as we should every day, we must not just remember, not just share meaningless words, we must honor that memory with our actions and intent.

If we are truly going to #NeverForget, we must live like we did on September 11th and 12th.  United in our commitments to our country and to each other, respectful and supportive of each other and our beliefs, and dedicated in ensuring that those lives we lost were not in vain. 

Never forget that we are stronger because of our diversity. That truth matters. Trust matters. That we must learn from our past to truly understand our present. That each of us has the power to change the future.

So, before your next post, pause to think about what you are saying and what you are sharing.  Or did you forget already?

#NeverForget #Respect #Freedom #USA #911 #Sept11 #History #Vote #Learn #United #Diversity

July 4, 2020

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more”

John Adams

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson

I have written several times that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday.

The words, the ideals, written in the Declaration of Independence inspired the birth of a new nation, extolling a government of the People.  A government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

I celebrate excitedly each July; the Grand Experiment in democracy…the birth of the United States.

For as much as we can admire the Founding Fathers, they were not without flaws.  They were not asking us to idolize them, or even emulate them; they were asking us to believe in them, in the ideas and actions that would change the world. 

“They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country.  They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.”

Frederick Douglass

These conditions do not have to be binary. 

We can look to the past with a critical eye, but together we have an opportunity to create a better future.

While the American Dream has been good to me, Jefferson’s truths have not been so self-evident for everyone.  Equality has been only a dream for too many for too long.  We’ve struggled as a nation to live up to those ideals.  We’ve fought, both in courts and on battlefields, for or against equal rights, and equal justice, for all. 

That history is just as much a part of our present as it is our past.

244 years later, we still struggle with discrimination; in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and much more. 

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

Not only is it incumbent upon us to listen, to learn, and to educate, we have to respect our differences.

Ours is a nation of diversity, of disparity, but it shouldn’t be one of inequity and inequality.

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

For all those who have fought, and continue to fight, for freedom, liberty, justice, and equality, I am grateful for your passion, commitment, and service.

I celebrate today, with pride and patriotism.  Not blindly, but respectfully, not just to the past, but for tomorrow.  The America I celebrate is the shining city upon a hill, where we teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important, where everyone lives in freedom and equality. It has been only a dream for far too long. Join me in working towards making it a reality. Our celebrations will be that much more meaningful when we can truly share them with everyone.

Recovering what we’ve forgotten

The continuous feed of ‘Never Forget’ only serves as a reminder of what we’ve forgotten.

I’ve struggled with sharing this, and it saddens me that I have.

Throughout the day, I’ve seen all the ’Never Forget’ pictures and posts.

While I’ve always felt a personal pain at our collective loss and an overwhelming gratitude to those who gave their lives to help others, not just on that day, but every day, I feel we’ve diminished the lasting impact of this national tragedy.

As I’ve written in previous years, it’s not enough for us just to remember, we must honor the memory.

Scrolling through these posts, while a touching tribute to those we’ve lost, I’m afraid we’ve lost much more than all those lives 18 years ago.  The continuous feed of Never Forget only serves as a reminder of what we’ve forgotten.

We have forgotten how to respect ourselves and each other.

We have forgotten how to communicate and listen to differing opinions, perspectives, and ideas.

We have forgotten to seek out the truth and disavow lies.

We have forgotten the value of education and the reasons to keep funding it.

We have forgotten the allies who stood with us in solidarity 18 years ago, and long before that, and now question our future alliances.

We have forgotten who our enemies are and allow petty disagreements and distractions to prevent tangible actions.

We have forgotten that we are still a country at war.

We have forgotten all those we have lost, not just fighting enemies on battlefields across the world, but by their own hands here at home.

We have forgotten that we do not elect leaders in our country, but representatives.

We have forgotten that elections matter, and we have a civic responsibility to participate fully in them.

We have forgotten that the strength in our Republic comes from our diversity and our unity.

We have forgotten our motto: E pluribus unum; out of many, one.

We have forgotten to honor our soldiers and have subjected them and their families to conflicting immigration laws and deportation, and watched silently as they struggle with physical and mental health issues, unemployment, homelessness, and hunger.

We have forgotten that supporting our troops extends to long after they are home.

We have forgotten that when we were attacked, we were all attacked, not liberals and conservatives from red and blue states, but Americans.

We have forgotten that the first responders, the volunteers, the helpers, the rescuers, and the supporters, we’re all welcome sights to those in distress, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, political views, citizenship, skin color, religion, or anything else.

We have forgotten that our rights come with responsibilities, and no one’s rights are greater than another’s.

We have forgotten that we are stronger together than we are divided.

We have forgotten what it means to be American, and to stand as a shining example for the rest of the world.

So rather than just ‘liking’ all these Never Forget posts, take action. Do something positive. Be kind. Show compassion.  Give of your time, treasury, or talent. Speak the truth and question those who don’t. Respect other opinions and beliefs and learn from them. Get involved in something meaningful to you. Learn the issues in your community and those you’ve elected to represent it. Educate yourself and vote your beliefs, not your party. Hug your family. Reach out to an old friend. Smile at a stranger. Make a difference.

We must truly never forget, not just that we were attacked, but who we are and what we stand for.

I am forever grateful for all those who continue to protect and defend these United States and all of us who live here.  Thank you to our first responders and all who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and thank you to each of you for taking the time to read this tonight.

#NeverForget #USA #Remember #Respect #Honor #America #Freedom #UnitedStates #History #Community #Rights #Impact #TakeAction

July 4, 2018

Today is my favorite day of the year.
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Patriot:

a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

 
Today is my favorite day of the year.
Yes, I love summer. Yes, we all enjoy a day off.
Neither of those is the reason, however.
 
It was 242 years ago when a group of patriots declared their independence from Britain. This was more than a revolution, it was a cause.
A belief that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
 
They set forth not only to dissolve the bonds to Britain, but to create a new form of self-government, in which the government derives its just power from the governed.
This grand experiment had never before been attempted. Change in leadership had always been from violence, or change never happened.
Their idea, our government, was based on a peaceful transition of power. Open and fair elections for all citizens to participate and a free press to speak truth to power. Those powers purposefully separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each equal; none above another, and assigned oversight for each other. The real power lies within the People of this great nation.
 
Today, those truths are not as self-evident, and sometimes truths aren’t evident at all.
The power of the People has been diminished by the power of the dollar.
The press, while still free, is not as independent, thanks to media ownership rules, and battling a campaign labeling different or opposing views as fake.
The oversight among branches of government has been largely sidelined by partisan loyalty.
 
Despite the challenges, we still are the oldest existing nation with a constitutional government in which the people elect their own government and representatives.
Our Republic is facing crisis, but the foundation is solid. We, The People, must continue to use our voice, we must vote for Country over party, we must retain our Rights, and ensure that the Founders concept for a government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from this earth.
 
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Too often, politically, we see opposition for one as support of another. We should look beyond petty loyalties, and look to underlying belief. What is best for the country may not always align with your political view, but patriotism isn’t about politics, it’s about country.
So today, as we wave the flag and watch the fireworks, take a moment to reflect upon your own patriotism. Can you put your love of country ahead of a person or a party? Can you accept that we all have been granted the same Rights, enjoy the same freedoms, and believe in the ideals so beautifully expressed 242 years ago?   Are you willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, as the Founders did?
We must put aside our differences, move beyond our divisiveness, our contempt, and our political loyalties. Please take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence today as a reminder not just of our shared past, but of our common future, as the United States of America.
 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Responsibility in Politics

What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression. It’s time we used them wisely.

Is the system broken, or are we?
Politically, we may not be who we think we are, so when we vote, are we making an informed choice, or a reactive one?  We are individuals, yet typically identify with a collective, even when it’s detrimental to some of our beliefs.
For those who identify as liberal or conservative, perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and decide if that represents the entirety of your views.  While each of us has some component of each philosophy, some lean much more one way than the other. As a personal belief, there is nothing wrong with that. As a political ideology, it gets more complicated.  When it comes to governing, it is ineffective.
What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
E. Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one.
Our motto says it all. We are a vast and diverse Nation with many beliefs, traditions, ideas, philosophies, and desires.  Each of us is guaranteed the right to have our own opinions, and the right to express them. We can express them in many ways; where we live, how we shop, the friends we keep, the jobs we hold, and who we vote for.
 online_voting_image_1_w_755
It is that very vote that makes it so critical for elected officials to separate their personal ideologies from the ability to govern.
Leadership is the culmination of skills required to create an inspiring vision of the future, motivate people to engage with that vision, and deliver on it.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
True leaders will build consensus and act on the best interests of the entire Country. When we allow our partisan desires to disrupt the process, stall legislation, and enrage those with different beliefs, we do a great disservice not just to each other, but to our democracy.  Any time one party pushes too far to one side, the pendulum inevitably swings far to the other side.  Opposition is not leadership, nor is inaction.
It isn’t difficult to see the future continuing to be a divisive one, with swings from one side to the other, and back again. It is just as easy, however, to envision an environment of collaboration, where Congress, despite their individual beliefs, collectively works to legislate for all.
For those in the electorate on the extremes, your anger and disappointment will never fully be assuaged.  While there will always be small victories, extreme views never play well in national politics.
For the rest of us, who tend to be a little of each philosophy, while we may never be fully happy, we will never be completely disappointed.
Our Republic was created to ensure that each of us has a voice, and that all our voices are equal.
Rather than work to divide, and to push an agenda doomed to eventual failure (and dismantling by the next Congress/Administration), we should work to unite, and elect responsible representatives. It is only then that we can move past this period of extreme division and disappointment, and begin to fulfil the Founders vision of democracy, where all men are created equal, and government exists to preserve the Rights of the People.
It is easy to place blame, judge others, and express frustration with the ‘system’.  Taking a critical look inward is difficult, as is accepting responsibility.  Our National identity, however, should come before any party one.
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.  We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression.  It’s time we used them wisely.

Strength in our Diversity & our Unity

What makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.

16 years ago, we faced our darkest day when terror reached our shores in an unprecedented display of devastation and destruction.
On that terrible September morning, we did what American’s do best, we came together as one to help and console each other, and to stand united in the face of fear.
We did not ask about politics, religion, race, sex, or anything else; we accepted the helping hands of strangers and relied on unknown shoulders to cry on.
America responded as we always have, with unity.  We joined together with a combined mission to ensure that we were safe, that this would never happen again, and that those responsible would be brought to justice.
After 16 years, however, we seem to forget the strength in our community.  We have spent too much time focusing on the things that divide us, rather than those that bring us together.
Make no mistake, what makes America strong is our diversity AND our unity.
We need leadership that can capitalize on this strength, not just in times of crisis, but in times of peace and prosperity.  We need to embrace our differences, celebrate that we can live together, express our opinions and beliefs, and learn from each other.  We must remember that despite the vast differences we bring as individuals, collectively we become the beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice known as the United States.  Our motto says it best:  E pluribus unim; out of many, one.
We must continue to honor the memory of those we lost 16 years ago.  We must continue to be united in that commitment, in our resolve, and for our Country.  To paraphrase Lincoln, we must ensure that this Great Nation, brought forth by our fathers onto this continent, conceived in Liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and with a government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the earth.
 
#Remember #Honor #911 #Sept11 #Freedom #Liberty #Rights #USA #Diversity #Community #Unity #EPluribusUnum #UnitedStates #Respect

Independence Day

Today is not just about freedom and liberty. Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.

241 years ago today, 56 brave men signed a document that would forever change their lives, and the course of world history.  It was a treasonous act that put each of them, and their families and friends, at great risk.
On that date, July 4, 1776, these representatives from the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, dissolving the political bands which had connected them with each other.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident” they boldly stated, although at the time, and since, it’s never been completely self-evident.  In today’s divided political climate, even the ‘truths’ are questioned.
Yet, the grand experiment that began 241 years ago today is still running.  Despite our differences, we unite behind our flag and those famous words that changed the world.
 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
 
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. These are our unalienable Rights.  Our government exists to secure those Rights.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We tend to forget the role of government, and where its responsibilities lie.  Today should be a reminder of why we declared our independence, what we expect from our government, and why it is imperative to hold it, and ourselves, accountable.
 
Eleven years after the Declaration was written, we drafted our Constitution, solidifying our form of government and defining its charter:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
 In a time when monarchies were the norm, our Founding Fathers decided on a form of self-government. The government’s purpose was to guarantee our Rights.
Many years later, Jefferson wrote about the Declaration: “all eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born, with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves let the annual return of this day, for ever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them.”
A poignant reminder from the man who wrote some of the most powerful and significant words in American History.  Jefferson died just a few weeks later, on July 4, 1826.
Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew how significant their actions were, and pledged “to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”
So today, and on every July 4, let us refresh our recollections of these Rights, what they truly mean, and pledge our undiminished devotion to them.
 
Today, as we celebrate, as we share with family and friends, as we bask in the glory of freedom and fireworks, remember what today is about.
It’s not just a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. It’s not just the founding words of a new nation conceived. It’s not just about freedom and liberty.  Today is about our Rights and the place of government to secure those Rights; the Rights of the People…the governed.
 
‘Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed’
 
Today, remember the bold actions of those 56 men.  Remember the powerful words that reshaped the world.  Remember the man who wrote them, and honor his life’s devotion to this Great Nation and respect his passing 191 years ago today.
Today, 241 years after that unanimous Declaration, we remain free; not just from the words and actions of those 56 men, forever etched into our history by their signatures, but from the countless men and women who have defended this Nation, and our beliefs, for generations.
Today is a celebration of our Freedom, our Liberty, our Rights, and a solemn reminder of those who believed in them, defended them, and continue to protect them.
 
Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. Thank you to the other 55 representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence. Thank you to all who have served to protect and defend our Constitution, our rights, our freedoms, and our lives.  May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
 

Thoughts on the American Health Care Act

It is time for a paradigm change in healthcare. Access to insurance is not care. Tax credits to offset insurance costs are not care. Until we can make care affordable and accessible, too many people will continue to suffer unnecessarily, and health equity remains a dream.
We must develop a comprehensive strategy to address the needs of all citizens, regardless of income, employment, education, or current health status.

First off, let me state that I think the Affordable Care Act was a good start, but needs vast improvement to ensure healthcare is both affordable and accessible for all citizens.
The Republicans are in an incredibly powerful position today.  They control both houses of Congress, the White House, and a majority of Statehouses around the Country.  This presents them with a unique opportunity to truly change healthcare in America for the better.  Unfortunately, where they appear to have no power is against the insurance industry.
If ‘Obamacare’ was a gift to insurance (and it was), the GOP version introduced in the House yesterday wrapped that up, added some cash, and put a bow on it.  The insurance industry must be thrilled.
Nowhere in the new legislation do healthcare providers benefit. Worse than that, there is no great benefit to people and patients.  For those of us who can afford insurance, and are part of an employee sponsored plan, not much changes.  Rates and deductibles will continue to rise, while benefits continue to decrease.
For those who couldn’t afford healthcare before, it probably won’t become any more affordable.  While there might be some new ‘bargain’ plans, it remains to be seen what that coverage would look like, and what providers would actually accept it.  There is nothing in the proposed law that guarantees lower premiums, puts a limit on annual premium increases, ensures acceptance of your coverage, or anything beneficial to people and patients (that we don’t already have today).  Participants may qualify for a tax credit, but you must pay the premiums first.  For those who cannot afford the premiums, there is no longer a tax penalty for not having insurance.
While many did not like the ‘mandate’ that required insurance coverage, the ‘penalty’ was less than $700 for an individual.  In the new bill, if you have a gap in coverage, insurance companies can penalize you up to 30%.  On a $4000 annual policy, this is $1200.  That money doesn’t go back to the government to offset costs, by the way, it goes straight to the insurers.
The States themselves will be hurt by this legislation, as well.  Today, as always, the burden of caring for the uninsured falls on State and Local programs.  Previously, those costs were reimbursed by the Federal government.  The idea behind the ACA was that with insurance, these reimbursements should be minimalized, if not nearly eliminated.
Under the new plan, those reimbursements are capped.  The States will now have to contend with more uninsured citizens and less money to care for them with.
I’m not sure how any of this can be considered ‘better’, unless you want to only reduce the upfront costs of the program; in that case, great job.  The reality, however, is that the long-term costs will be significantly greater, and the impact on the economy can be devastating.  Rather than doing something to truly change how we provide care to our Citizens, this bill has just limited who gets access to existing care.  Those who struggled to pay premiums may no longer be able to afford the coverages they so desperately need.
If we continue along the path we’ve been following, the sick will get sicker, insurance becomes less affordable, care is restricted, and we all will feel the impact. The staggering costs of healthcare remain the number one underlying cause of bankruptcy. Families should never have to chose between food and healthcare, between heat and healthcare,  or anything else and the care we all eventually need.  This should not be acceptable anywhere, let alone in the United States in 2017.
It is time for a paradigm change in healthcare.  Access to insurance is not care.  Tax credits to offset insurance costs are not care. Until we can make care affordable and accessible, too many people will continue to suffer unnecessarily, and health equity remains a dream.
We must develop a comprehensive strategy to address the needs of all citizens, regardless of income, employment, education, or current health status.

We are more the same than we are different

today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you; learn something new

Terribly saddened by the events of the past days and weeks, not just in the United States, but around the world.
Yet in all the expressions of outrage, and even in words of comfort, we continue to build the barriers that cause all this hatred.
Instead of defining each other by our differences, let’s remember our common bonds.  Stop separating us and them, blue and black, Muslim and Christian, Jew and Gentile,  liberal and conservative.  In the United States, we are all Americans.  We don’t need to create separate classes based on ethnicity, religion, color, or anything else.  American is enough.  Stop the passive distrust caused by breaking us apart.   American lives matter.  All lives matter.
The same is true around the world.  Why must we focus on where we differ, when there is so much that ties us together.
Do we not all occupy the same planet, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, and fight the same diseases?  These are human conditions, not unique to any continent, country, or civilization.
Take a moment to reflect not just on these recent tragedies, but how you react to them.  What you say and do has a tremendous effect on how you are perceived by others, and how they are perceived, as well.
If we all have a little empathy and understanding, the world would be a better place.  I’d rather listen and learn, than continue to fight based on meaningless words.   I matter, just like you.
So today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you;  learn something new, discuss ideas, embrace differences, create a new friendship, and make the world a better place.

Today I mourn

Today, I mourn.  I grieve.  I ache for those lives senselessly taken.
 
My sadness goes further than Orlando.; deeper than the LGBT community.
I cry for America.
 
Today’s horrific tragedy is not a political issue.  It is not a 2nd Amendment issue.  It is not a lifestyle issue.  This is an American issue; it is a human issue.
 
This could have happened at a mall, or a preschool, or a church, or an office, or a public pool, or any gathering of peaceful people living under the umbrella of freedom that we all treasure.
 
Yet we allow hateful speech to become part of our everyday news.  We allow shootings to be so commonplace that it’s not until a ‘mass shooting’ takes place that we take notice.  We allow violence to prevail; racism to be tolerated; rapes to be justified; inaction to be considered progress; and individuals to be grouped together and marginalized as lesser in our society.
 
Today, I mourn.  For those who lost a friend or loved one in Orlando, words will never adequately express my sympathies.  Despite the anger we feel, we must resolve to work together to better our society, to further our common goals and interests.   We must remember that all lives are created equal,  and that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights; that among them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
 
Today, we must continue to look forward, and pledge not revenge, not divisiveness, but collaboration.  Despite our differences, we remain strongest when we are united.  Whether this evil is foreign or domestic, there is no room in our world for intolerance or inaction.  Every life holds value, and our Rights must never be abridged. Today we must stand together again as the United States of America.
We Stand With Orlando