Lerner, Grieving for Orlando et al

Orlando vigil
Vigil for the victims of the Orlando shootings. Photo by Fibonaci Blue.

Grieving for Orlando, for GLBTQ, for Muslims, for America

by Rabbi Michael Lerner — Tikkun

We at Tikkun reaffirm our commitment to the safety of and respect for the GLBTQ community.

“They” are “us”–we are both straight and gay and bi and trans, Jewish and Christian and Muslim and Buddhist and Hindu and earth-based religions of every variety, young and old, religious and secular humanists and atheists.

We will not let any sector of “us” get scared that the rest of us will abandon them. Just as I said at Muhammed Ali’s funeral that Jews will stand with Muslims in the face of growing Islamophobia (all the more needed now that some politicians are trying to use the horror of mass murder of gays in Orlando by a supposedly Muslim young man to justify repression against Muslims), so we will not let gays become an “acceptable” target for the haters. Not gays, not anyone.

We are one global “we,” and we must never let any part of us become the target that is somehow made a “legitimate” target.

But true solidarity needs to go beyond standing with the victims of hate crimes, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia and all the other variants of hatred. True solidarity should lead us to the imperative to develop strategies to heal the distortions and pains that lead people into communities of hate.

Our strategies must separate the hateful behavior from the pain in people that underlies their misdirected rage and sometimes violent actions. We must develop ways to speak to those deep psychic wounds and hurts and show people that there are better and more effective strategies to deal with those pains than to act them out on others, whether that acting out be in the form of demeaning or raping or making war against others, or in the form of mass politics of hatred.

That’s why in the Fall 2016 issue of Tikkun I’ll develop a whole approach to understanding these movements of hate and demobilizing them. I’ll lay out a strategy for an Empathy Tribe — not an empathy that brings us to an understanding that leads to passivity, but an empathy that can guide us to most effectively demobilize the hatred and redirect people’s pains in ways that could actually help alleviate them.

Not for a moment will this empathy entail lessening our outrage or commitment to fight against and resist every form of demeaning some “other.” And this is precisely what the interfaith and secular-humanist-and-atheist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives takes as one of its major foci — training people to become outreach organizers for empathy that can, over time, disempower hate and disconnect the inner allies of anger that gets manipulated into hatred, but to do so without disempowering our righteous indignation and desire to resist all forms of “othering.

So you are invited to learn about our worldview and approach to healing, and then join our Network of Spiritual Progressives and become part of a movement dedicated to developing the strategy and powerful interventions that will empower our most loving and caring selves and help us learn how to liberate that part of others who on the surface look like they are “too far gone.”

But right now, our grieving takes precedence over our strategizintg. So as a rabbi, I pray for the speedy recovery of the survivors of the Orlando massacre, for healing for the families of those who suffered loss or have a loved one now fighting for his or her life, for the whole glbtq community who are once again faced with the possibility of being open targets, for Muslims who are unfairly being blamed for the actions of one murderer (though we never find the media and the right wingers blaming all whites when it is a white man who is the murderer), and for all Americans.

We pray that Americans will move quickly and decisively toward eliminating all those assault rifles and mini-machine guns in the form or automatic weapons, and we pray for an end to the demeaning of others that is often part of the causal chain that feeds the murderous impulses of a few mentally deranged people who act out their murderous fantasies.

Let the healing begin!


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