It’s difficult to focus on much else beyond the tragic shooting in my city, Orlando, FL, this week. Every time we hear about loss of life or senseless violence in the news, our hearts go out to the victims and their families. I now know that when it happens less than two miles from my home, the grief and shock are different. More present. More personal. We are a city in mourning. I’ve hugged more strangers this week and cried in public more times than I ever have before. I’ve moved through life in a fog this week, with no sign of it lifting.
But this isn’t about me. It’s about a million complex and disturbing and depressing things at once. And in the midst of this, we’re all trying to find some sort of peace. We want to help. As Mr. Rogers, the most famous alumnus of my institution, said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’”. In that spirit, here are some uplifting responses:
I’m so proud of our own American Library Association. President Sari Feldman released this statement regarding the mass shooting, including mention of how the upcoming conference (starting next week!) will include ways to support the victims and various causes, particularly those dedicated to our GLBTRT community. I would expect nothing less from librarians; we’ve always been on the front lines of social activism and change.
The GoFundMe campaigns for the victims and their families have broken previous records, nearing $5 million in support as of yesterday. You can add your support here.
It’s a sad fact that many other cities around the world have experienced similar tragedies in recent years. See how they pay tribute to Orlando by lighting up monuments with rainbow colors and holding vigils of their own. The turnout here in Orlando at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was truly something to see.
And finally, this piece by Scott Powers says what so many Orlandoans are trying to articulate. We’re allowed to be angry, and we should be angry. I know I am. Part of the complexity is that we all think we’re angry about different things, but the root of our anger is in the loss of 49 brilliant lives. We’re not done being sad yet. We’re not done grieving. We’re not ready to be reduced to another notch on someone’s political agenda or used as vote bait. As Powers says, “Let us grieve for a while before you make it about whatever it is you want to make it about.” I couldn’t agree more.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.