Columbia, MD – In the early morning hours of Sunday June 12, 2016, evil reared its ugly head in America once again. A gunman opened fire in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 and wounding 53, making it the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
This sad, heartbreaking milestone brings with it the perfect storm of social issues in our divided nation that is in the midst of a presidential election season; guns, gays, and radical Islamic terrorism. Pundits and politicians have taken to the airwaves and social media in the past few days to make their case for unity, for division, for tighter gun control laws, for no gun control laws. First responders show bravery and compassion. Facebook responders show both love and hate. What are we to do?
I believe that this tragedy gives us yet another opportunity to show love in the face of evil. Whether you are a follower of Jesus Christ or a follower of the prophet Muhammad or an adherent of no religious tradition at all, these times of grief show the world, especially those who seek to do us harm, what we’re really made of. I believe that God has called us to love one another. In fact, Jesus said that it was the greatest commandment of them all, to love your neighbor as yourself. That means your Muslim neighbor. Your gay neighbor. Your atheist neighbor. Your Christian neighbor. We are to love them, to forgive them, and to extend grace and mercy to them. Grace is God’s positive extension of favor on humanity. We can’t earn it, we can’t repay it, and we certainly don’t deserve it. I believe that “Gracism” is the positive extension of favor regardless of, and sometimes because of, color, class, or culture. To be a “Gracist” is to lift, celebrate, honor, cover, share with , consider, and stand with others regardless of their circumstance, their culture, or their creed. Imagine a 9/12 world, where , like in the days following September 11, 2001, we came together in unity and love to grieve, to comfort, and to encourage. Imagine a world in which we extend love and grace to others because it has been extended to us. In the aftermath of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando where 49 souls created in the image of God were snuffed out by a crazed madman, there is a glimmer of hope. The hope that Gracism will overcome racism, love will overcome hate, and that life will be celebrated over homicide, suicide, and genocide regardless of color, class, culture, or creed.
About Dr. David Anderson: Dr. Anderson is one of the world’s leading authorities on building bridges across the deep divides of race, faith, culture and wealth. As a pastor, author, speaker, and radio & television talk show host, his work has brought hope and healing to communities, families and people in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He is the CEO of the BridgeLeader Network, whose mission is to assist, inspire and develop organizations to increase multicultural effectiveness. BLN offers churches, businesses and corporations solutions to the problems of racial difference and offers proactive strategies to help them live the values of reconciliation and effective multiculturalism. For more information visit www.bridgeway.cc and www.bridgeleadernetwork.com.