Monday, June 19, 2017

WMFE: One Year Later.

I went to the 90.7 WMFE Studios, (11510 East Colonial Drive, Orlando),  to attend a taping of The Three Wise Guys of Friends Talking Faith Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Imam Muhammad Musri and Rabbi Steven Engel discussed how the community has changed since the Pulse nightclub shooting.  Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan was a guest on the show. She described experiences on the day of the shooting when she went down to the nightclub to witness blood in the streets. She said that as a gay leader, she had become used to experiencing hate, but what was more difficult to deal with all the love that she felt from the community after the shooting. 

When the dead had to be buried, a hate group from out of town wanted to come to Orlando to disrupt the funerals with their hate filled rhetoric. Locals came together to make walls to protect mourners from the hate. Angel action wings were created to also shield mourners.The idea of Angel wings first came about after the hate crime death of Mathew Shephard. Orlando eventually took the idea one step further creating 49 sets of angel wings, one for each victim. Patty said that Orlando has done an amazing job of helping overcome tragedy through creativity.

The conversation turned to the notion of "otherizing" people. Once a group pf people are the "others", then it is also possible to dehumanize them. With one years fast approaching it becomes not only important to remember, but also important to take a stand and do something to bring about change.Florida is the 50th state in the country in terms of money spent to help fund mental health. First responders might get money if they scraped a knee on the evening of the Pulse Nightclub attack, but they get no help seeking counseling to help deal with post traumatic stress disorder. Al attempts at passing reasonable gun control policies have all failed. Patty pointed out that if the mass murder had happened at a white male country club, then the political response might have been different. She honestly feels that no comfortable politician really cares what happened in Orlando.
Many churches that showed support right after the mass murder, now have no plans for the one year remembrance. 90.7 WMFE reporter Crystal Chavez talked about the shooting’s impact on the Latino community and her forthcoming Spanish-language podcast on the subject, Orlando Un Año Después. Questions were fielded from the audience, but several just were personal sermons rather than questions for the panel. Rabbi Engel thanked the audience for attending and hoped we all found something inspiring in the discussion. Quite the opposite is true I felt discouraged but the conversation. We live in a country that promotes gun violence and shooting incidents are accelerating rather than declining. a disgruntled employee just killed five of his former co-workers. What has gone wrong in America that allows such insane violence to seem like an option for some people? We are a country divided and angry. Orlando's flower child vision of love can only take us so far. The religious leaders offered solace but no concrete answers.

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