I’ve had planned to publish a review of Disney Signature dining today, but it just didn’t seem appropriate in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy. Orlando was my home for four years of college, where I learned so much about myself and about others. Orlando has become my home again, after leaving DC at the end of 2015. My time in The District only expanded my appreciation for the world outside of my immediate radius. I can tell you about how DC introduced me to my love of Pakistani and Afghan food, my appreciation for the kindhearted nature of every Muslim man and woman I encountered (one of the benefits of working for an international university), and the frequency with which I went to drink at the gay bar in my Virginia neighborhood. I can tell you how I, a middle-class, white, straight female has connections to this tragedy in my city… but we all have a connection to the tragedy in Orlando, because we are all humans on this tiny blue speck in the Universe.
I was raised to somewhat disassociate myself emotionally from tragedy and death – it’s not that I don’t care, but that I was taught from an early age that it is an unfortunate part of life. Not just that the circle of life involves death, presumably at an old age or from incurable disease, but that life includes vicious slaughter, unjust tragedy, innocent victims. What a horrible thing for my parents to feel they had to prepare me for.
I am not going to use this as a platform to preach political agenda, or to villainize a religion or argue about gay rights. I simply believe that the only way to stop hate and darkness, is through love and light. I believe that the more of the world we can see, the more love we can understand. It’s too easy to stay in our bubbles, surrounded by the same comforts and like-minded people, and thus too easy to lose perspective that just because some people have different priorities, or call their God by a different name, or love someone with a different reproductive organ, doesn’t really differentiate us. When we travel, whether to try an Asian market in a different part of town or have beers with an Iranian in Madrid, we expand our little bubbles. When you interact with people from different cultures, you tend to find more things alike than you will find different – but we can only realize this when we put ourselves out there, and open our minds and our lives to new experiences.
We can sit in our bubbles and look out, judging every small difference harshly as some large distinguishing factor, but at the end of the day, we are all humans. No matter who we love, or who we worship, or who we want to win the 2016 Presidential election, we are all the same species, occupying the same planet. Civilization coming together over the course of history has allowed humankind to achieve some amazing things – yet we aren’t there yet. We still see these arbitrary, imaginary borders, or the differences in shades of our skin – biologically, the same skin – or made-up definitions and party lines, as these extreme factors that must divide us.
We cannot single-handedly save the world. We cannot enlighten humankind with a EuroTrip. But we can each do our best to learn more about this precious planet and our precious fellow humans. We can all do our best to shine a little more light into the darkness that exists in all corners of the world, across all religions, across all sexual preferences and all skin colors. Across the seemingly severe differences beats a global pulse. Light can drive out darkness, and I urge every one of us to shine our little light over a little more of the world, and to look for light from others.