We don’t have time to mourn the dead. Tragedies such as the carnage in Orlando should bring us together to grieve for those who died, to pray, however we pray, for the wounded, and to support those whose lives have been devastated. But we don’t have time. Too quickly we turn human tragedies into political events, into opportunities to advance our own agendas, to reinforce our hardening divisions. Yes, I believe we must ban assault weapons and pass sensible gun laws. But I don’t need an email from moveon.org asking me to sign a petition before the dead have even been identified.
I believe we need to confront the evil that is ISIS. But I don’t think we need calls for the president to resign because he won’t say, “radical Islam,” two words that have become, like so much else these days, politically loaded.
I believe it matters that the victims were gay and that they were killed celebrating life in a nightclub called Pulse. But more importantly, they were people whose lives ended horrifically and unexpectedly.
We should stop and grieve together for those people, at least for one day, and not just rewrite Monday’s speech to score a point. This is a time to put our differences aside and come together.
Today is the birthday of William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet and revolutionary. On this morning’s Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor read a Yeats poem. It’s called The Sorrow of Love; its last stanza seems applicable to today.
And now the sparrows warring in the eaves, The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky, And the loud chanting of the unquiet leaves, Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.