Who We Really Are

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While the terrorist/white supremacist attacks were taking place in my home town of Charlottesville, VA yesterday  I was enjoying a peaceful day in Richmond, VA of homemade waffles and cleaning the apartment with my girlfriend.

As the news of what was happening in Charlottesville blew up Facebook and my phone with notifications from NPR news, I was devastated to say the least. I cried then and I have cried today. I cannot imagine what Heather Heyer’s loved ones are experiencing right now. And I am sure that everyone who was injured, beaten or who witnessed what happened now has some form of PTSD to deal with.

I cannot speak a lot about what happened Saturday August 12th because I wasn’t there. I will never really know what it was like. And honestly, what can I say about bigoted terrorist that hasn’t already been said?

However, I am certain of a few things:

  1. My family and friends in Charlottesville and Ruckersville, where I lived for the past 16 years before relocating to Richmond, are the most loving and accepting people that I have ever known.
  2. Yes this was a terrorist attack. People do not beat up or kill other people when they are exercising their right as an American to protest.
  3. THIS ATTACK HAPPENED BECAUSE OF OUTSIDERS THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH CHARLOTTESVILLE OR LOCAL POLITICS. Their terrorist actions do not reflect what is in the hearts of any of my loved ones or Charlottesville as a whole.

This is not who we are. It never was.

I have one more thing I would like to share with you.

I called my Mom to make sure she didn’t venture into Charlottesville on an errand yesterday. After these violent attacks that were based on hate occurred, I received the most beautiful gift from my Mother. During our conversation, she said: “You seem so happy and I really like Jo Ann. You’re doing so good something about it just seems so, right.” My Mother, who just found out I’m gay after knowing me my entire life, gave me the gift of acceptance.

This gives me hope. And it proves to me that love will always win.

Love is who we really are.  

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Ending the Cycle of Violence

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The recent mass shooting Pulse in Orlando FL, affected me more than the other mass shootings that have occurred within the past few years. (The fact that I can even refer to there being more than on mass shooting within the past few years disturbs me deeply) This mass shooting hit close to home for me and every other person who considers themselves a part of the LGBT community at large.

A lot of information has surfaced about Omar Mateen of late.

  • Over the past few weeks evidence has surfaced that Omar Mateen was acting out of revenge and not as part of Isis as he stated in his phones calls with law enforcement.
  • A former lover of Omar’s who referred to himself as Miguel, told Univision in an exclusive interview that Mateen had had sex with him as well as two men from Pulse. One of the men may have been HIV+.
  • In an interview with the New York Times,Sitora Yusufiy, Mateen’s first wife, described Mateen as incredibly abusive and says she was only able to escape with the help of her family.
  • There is some evidence that Mateen mentioned researching ant-psychotic medications the day of his attack on Pulse.

I have no idea why anyone would commit such a heinous act against innocent people.

But I have a theory about hate and violence.

My theory is that there is a cycle of hate that leads to horrendous behavior.

I believe the cycle goes something like this:

  • A person feels bad about themselves. They are deeply insecure.
  • They begin seeking ways to lash out at other people to feel better about themselves and release anger.
  • They begin to feed on the anger of lashing out. It becomes like a high. It gives them the feeling of being superior and inflates their ego.
  • Being angry feels good and powerful. It gives them the sense that they have power thus it allows them to ignore their feelings of insecurity. This feeling of power becomes addictive.
  • The more they participate in the cycle of hate, the more their behavior has to escalate because it takes more to “feed” their addiction. Thus leading to increasingly violent acts.

Make no mistake; violent acts come in many forms.

For example, Donald Trump’s self-centered response to the Pulse massacre on Twitter was a violent act.

Every church group who has used and will use this heinous tragedy to justify protesting at the funerals of the victims is committing an act of violence.

I know the question on everybody’s minds is: What do we do about this?

I think we need to practice greater love and tolerance.

I believe that how we show up in life affects the our world as a whole. I believe this more that I believe anything else. One act of kindness by one person ripples out into the world.

The brilliant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this truth and spent his all to short life working to make the world understand it.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar,

but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,

but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,

adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness:

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that “

What we can do is show up in life with kindness and love even when it is the most difficult thing to be done. The time for justifiable anger has passed. It isn’t making our world any better.

I know we can’t change any one. I certainly can’t make people stop hating people like me and saying we will all “burn in hell” or that the Orlando attack was the “will of God”.

But what I do know is this: If I hate I am a part of the problem. If I allow myself to put other people down for any reason I am getting into the cycle of hate. I believe that would be the ultimate mistake.

We Are Sacred

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A couple of years ago, I decided to make the day before Mother’s Day my own personal day. I’ve decided to call it My Other’s Day instead of Not a Mother Day. My Other’s Day has a more positive ring to it don’t ya think? 🙂 I realized quite some time ago that as a childless woman there is no celebration for me or those who are like me.

Childless women nurture the world by giving of their time and energy. We are the ones who pick up the slack, drive sick friends to appointments, rescue those in need, volunteer at various charities and organizations, answer the phone calls in the middle of the night, take the nieces and nephews to give the parents a much needed break. We are the confidants, the ones who can be trusted to show up when no one else is able. We stand in when a “Mom” is needed and the biological one is unable to be present (these are the moments we treasure). We are the friends you can always count on. And we still show up to help the Mother’s in our lives celebrate the children they were blessed with. We like the countless Facebook photos of cute babies and kids that Mom’s proudly post. We, celebrate birthdays, births, and milestones. We spend hundreds of dollars a year on gifts for the precious children that are not our own. And we love each and every one of those children with our whole hearts. We really get how special and important they are!

Women who are childless not by choice are sacred beings. We give of the time we have that is not filled with caring for children without asking for acknowledgement, gifts, or praise.

 

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To all of my sisters who did not get to be mothers: take today and acknowledge yourself. Do something nice for yourself. The world could not function without the contributions you make.

And please know how very special and important you are to me!