Letter From New York 06 18 2016 via The Vineyard

It has been five days since I’ve written a “Letter.”  I’ve done some other writing but nothing that faced the world in which we live.  The death of Jo Cox, a Member of Britain’s Parliament, murdered in her district affected me deeply, a tearing of the barely forming Orlando scar off my physic skin.

Her name was vaguely familiar.  The man who has been arrested for her murder apparently shouted “Britain first!” repeatedly as he shot and stabbed her.  She was campaigning against “Brexit,” the vote for which will happen next week.

When arraigned, John Mair, the alleged killer, gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” 

A man described as gentle by his neighbors, he suffered mental health issues, assuaging them with volunteer work.  He also was in some way affiliated with a neo-Nazi group out of America.

Jo Cox’s death affected me because… 

Because it was one more example of the politics of hate in which we are all mired, because it happened in Britain where political verbal vitriol has been honed to a fine edge but where rarely are political differences manifested in physical actions.  Perhaps over football but not politics. 

And that is probably an Anglophile’s rose colored glasses view of British politics but it does seem rarer there that they have such events as Orlando, much rarer.

In the days following Orlando, a California pastor preached that all LGBTQ folks should meet the same end as the Orlando victims.  We should all be killed off.  It is not the first time in my life I have heard people call for the slaughter of the LGBTQ community but it seemed more painful this time.  We have come so far from when I was a boy.

On Thursday, in a conversation with my friends, Medora and Meryl, I told them that it was on how far we have come that I had to choose to focus or my sadness would be unbearable.  It had seemed an impossibility that in my lifetime gay individuals could exercise the right to wed.  And now we can.

I did not think in my lifetime I could speak openly of my feelings to friends who were not of my own community.

Yet these things have happened.  In my little world of Columbia County, New York I have seen the changes over the fifteen years I have been there, the opening of the community and the general acceptance by “locals” to outsiders and to outsiders were “different.”

We think the world is changing and changing for the better and then there is an Orlando, ripping at the sense of safety creeping into the world.  And then come the stories of people who remain fearful, even in New York, because a show of same sex affection could mean violence.

Only since Orlando have I come to know that the LGBTQ community is, far and away, the group that is most likely to experience hate crimes.

There seems to be some movement about more control over assault rifles. One small step, one hopes.  I had thought there would have been movement on that after the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown.  There wasn’t but now there might be.

Young Christina Grimmie, a “The Voice” alum who was shot to death last Friday by a deranged fan who then killed himself, was buried yesterday.  She, too, was killed in Orlando.

Disney there has been putting out signs to warn tourists about crocodiles and snakes after a two year old was hauled off and killed by a crocodile last week, an adorable young boy.

In Nigeria, eighteen have been killed by Boko Haram.

Belgians have arrested twelve in “terror raids” and Iraqi forces say they have retaken most of Fallujah.

Where have all the flowers gone?

To graveyards, every one…

I am sad but am choosing, must choose, not to feel hopeless and powerless.  It is beautiful outside, another in a day of beautiful days on Martha’s Vineyard.  The world is better than it has been, in many ways.  And I must remind myself of that.Vineyard View 2

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