June 17, 2016 at 11:14 am EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
Processing Orlando
Orlando, Jerusalem, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy of Rotem Pesso)

Michael,
 
I’m so angry and sad about the shooting in Orlando.
 
It seems to me like we can do our best in life, be kind and caring, push for gay equality, and some moron can still come along and kill us. What kind of crazy world is this?
 
I was so happy last June with the gay marriage decision and felt like everything was looking up. Now I don’t even feel safe going out and think I should just stay home.
 
Everything seems to be going downhill and I’m starting to believe that there’s really no point to life. How do we go forward when everything seems so hopeless?
 

Michael replies:

Yes, the news is beyond awful and life seems increasingly unsafe.

But to put things in perspective, this isn’t really new. We’re seeing the latest round of an old, old story. Again and again throughout history, hatred and violence build up and explode.  Then people struggle to patch things up — until the next time.

We humans often seem to have a hard time learning that we have to find a way to get along. We’re all on this small planet together and have no place else to go.

While we’ve made some progress over the last few thousand years, that progress has gone hand in hand with the development of increased means of causing mass suffering, destruction and death. That’s a sad realization, but it’s the truth.

You might say that the choice you and all of us are facing is to either give up or do our best to keep pushing for our world to go in a more positive direction. Do we have any certainty that we’ll succeed? No. But if we don’t make an effort, how can we have any hope that the situation will not continue to get worse?

If we want to have a more peaceful and just world, we must keep working for one.  Apathy or hopelessness will not get us anywhere good.

I get it that you’re scared to go out. A lot of us are. But what is our alternative? Give up on living our lives?

Helen Keller once wrote that, “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Of course, she wasn’t saying that you’re not really living unless you sky dive or BASE jump. She was saying that risk is an essential part of being alive. Now none of us can ignore the stark truth of her statement.

We each have to decide for ourselves how we want to go forward. You may choose to shut down and give up, but what sort of life would that be? My hope is that all of us who have hope for a better world, will choose to make the most of our lives — fleeting as our lives inevitably are.

But what does this mean for each individual? Doing your best to be compassionate to all sentient beings? Fighting for justice? Enjoying the moment? Walking the path that has integrity for you, even if it is a dangerous one?

However any of us decide to go forward, we should remember that making this choice — how we want to lead our life — is the most important and powerful decision that we ever have to make.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBTQ couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com.

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