From one of my fellow yogis: Eileen Byrnes
A letter from Sandy Hook
To the Orlando community, first, let me say the people of Sandy Hook feel your pain because we know your pain. The scab on our healing wound was ripped open this morning upon hearing the news that 50 people out on a summer Saturday night were annihilated by a weapon of mass slaughter because they were living their truth.
To the rest of the country, please, please, please grieve for this community from afar. It is admirable that you might want to send a gift to support the community, the reality is that Orlando is frozen in shock right now and the stuff you are sending – while well meaning and from the heart – is just going to pull resources from where it might be needed. The last thing Orlando needs right now is stuff. Stuff in bulk becomes a burden.
And if you are considering sending funds to Orlando, please wait. Do your research. Find out how the money will be used and distributed. An influx of cash and gift cards is easy pickings for the dishonest and greedy.
Instead, do an act of kindness in your community. Send a letter of support to a LGBT organization in your community. Arrange to have a tree planted in a park in your home town. Send gift cards for meals to the chiefs of your own police and fire departments. Do acts of kindness and ask the recipients to pass it on. If you are so inclined, pray for the victims. But more importantly, pray for the families left behind. Pray for those who escaped the gunfire, but will never be able to unsee and unhear the torment that is now a part of their DNA. Pray for the responding police officers who saw hundreds of body parts in addition to numerous bodies. Pray for the EMTs, doctors and nurses who gave their all to save as many as they could, but will spend the rest of their lives haunted that they could not keep the life in those who came in looking as if they were missing pieces to a horrible puzzle.
To those who feel the need to go to Orlando because of some displaced need of being in the middle of the story, please stay the hell home. Orlando is a mess right now and your need to be there is only going to make it worse. And for goodness, gracious sake, do not pack the family in the car in a few days and head to the site so you can take a picture of everyone in front of the growing mounds of stuff or look for camera crews in hope of getting on television and projecting yourself into a national tragedy. (And if you think that doesn’t happen, ask anyone in Sandy Hook. The number of people taking selfies and picture of smiling children in front of the firehouse where families were told their children were dead was enough to turn your stomach.)
And to the press, there is no need to stay in Orlando for a week. Get what you need to get and get out. And please respect the privacy of the families. Some will want to talk to you. Some will not. Respect those who do not. When the victims names are released, do not go door to door like you are trick or treating for a candy nugget of information. And do not be a bottom feeder and say you are a friend of the family (complete with a beautiful floral arrangement) to gain access to the house when in fact you are a reporter trying to get a story. (It happened at the house of one of the Sandy Hook victims.)
The greatest way we all can pay respect to the Orlando victims is to stay home and love those around us like it really matters and like it can really make a difference.