We at Veterans For Peace express our deep condolences to the families who have become victims of the horrific tragedy that took place Sunday night in Orlando, Florida. We join with peace-loving people everywhere in grieving this senseless loss of life. Despite many recent legal recognitions of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people’s rights and positive changes in social attitude in the U.S., this tragedy is a reminder of the violence that the LGBTQ community continues to experience. It is also not lost on us that this horrific tragedy occurred during LGBTQ Pride month, which this year coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of peace and intense self-reflection. It pains us to see that these periods of joy, celebration, and peace have been marred so violently with such horror.
Tragedies like this often lead people to look for someone or something to blame. Veterans For Peace rejects attempts to perpetuate hatred against the LGBTQ and Muslim communities. We ask all to resist this temptation. We call on all people to challenge the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against all forms of hate; and at this time particularly against homophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Let us instead recommit ourselves to working toward a world without hatred and prejudice.
Mass shootings have become all too common. After each incident we search for answers in many places. As a nation, in order to find answers that will help create the change we seek, we must accept that this horrific event is one link in a now long chain of tragedies of wars, hate, violence and fear. We must work to end violence both at home and abroad.
Transportation and communication have made our global home smaller. Emotions, ideas and information travel at the speed of data into our homes and over our phones. We can no longer ignore the fact that what happens in communities thousands of miles apart affects billions of people. Wars abroad take a toll on families and communities here in the U.S. Therefore, we must work for peace at home and abroad. We cannot have one without the other. They are inextricably linked. We must begin to question all who attempt to divide us. We must reject those who teach that somehow the “Other” is stealing our jobs or conspiring against us, because of our religion, our sex, the color of our skin or our freedoms. We must reject that violence is the solution.
If you are ready to make a difference, it is time to get off the violence merry-go-round. Join peace, labor and justice groups or any group that is working for peace, justice, equal rights and the global environment for a sustainable future. We must put forth a greater effort to transform our society. Let us work for a world where everyone is valued, people’s basic needs are met and human dignity is recognized.