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The On Being Project

How Can We Express Our Outrage and Find Paths to Transcendence?

What are we willing to feel? This is the question Courtney Martin asks in the wake of the Orlando shootings of 49 people.

A local resident and her son participate in a candlelight vigil outside the White House for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting on December 14, 2012. (Alex Wong / Getty Images © All Rights Reserved.)

And she writes:

“Evil is no less a delusion than purity. We reach for it in moments when we can’t bear to comprehend that what exists in Mateen may also, on some level, exist in us.”

The Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark, who now leads Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, exemplifies this willingness to feel as her congregation “continues to grieve and heal” one year after a young man gunned down nine members of her flock:

“I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to meet his aunt. She came to me, and she was a little timid, probably wondering, what would I say and how would I react? And I saw that she was crying. And I reached out to her to give her a hug, and she stepped back, and she said, ‘Well let me tell you this first.’ She said, ‘I’m Dylann Roof’s aunt.’

I said, ‘But you still need a hug. Can I hug you?’ And she said yes. And then we talked, and then we prayed.”

Austin Ellis, a member of Metropolitan Community Church, carries a cross with a sign in memory of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting as he marches in the 2016 Gay Pride Parade in Philadelphia. 50 people were killed and 53 injured at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning. (Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

In a jagged spirit of rawness and redemption, Paul Raushenbush remembers the nightclubs where he found community and transcendence and joy. And, he says, “we have a love crisis in this country.”

A prayer service is held for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting at Delaney Street Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images © All Rights Reserved.)

Omid Safi’s powerful commentary takes a hard look at the lives lost in Orlando. And he surfaces the difficult realities we face as he tries to see the light through the wounds of Orlando:

“One of the positive outcomes of this event has been that we have heard, sometimes for the first time, from many queer Muslims who stand at the intersection of two communities that many like to define against one another. Rather than talk about ‘Islam and homosexuality,’ how crucial it is to actually hear from gay and lesbian Muslims.”

An LAPD officer holds hands with a sheriff’s deputy as they march during 2016 Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California on June 12, 2016. (Mark Ralston / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images © All Rights Reserved.)

We need our spiritual leaders during these moments. In our Becoming Wise podcast,Rabbi Jonathan Sacks helps us see difference as expansive and unifying, rather than a divisive force:

“We are living so close to difference with such powers of destruction that He’s really giving us very little choice. To quote that great line from W. H. Auden, ‘We must love one another or die.’ That is, I think, where we are at the beginning of the 21st century. And since we really can love one another, I have a great deal of hope.”

(Georgie Pauwels / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

Sharon Salzberg focuses in on kindness with her popular column this week. She argues that kindness and empathy can be the “in” thing… if we only could reimagine its context:

“I was never taught to believe that kindness could coexist with adventure, risk, intelligence… But kindness is what is missing in so many of our lives, in terms of how we treat and are treated by others, and how we treat ourselves. I have been thinking a lot about kindness as a value that gives us meaning — especially in an era in which communication has become more convenient, and perhaps less mindful as a result.”

And, for Father’s Day, the newest episode of Creating Our Own Lives with Courtney’s husband, John Cary, who talks about training for marathons while pushing his daughter and having deep conversations with other men while running:

“You’re running often side-by-side, or one person in back of the other, rather than having to deal with looking somebody in the eyes as you’re being vulnerable with them.”

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May the wind always be at your back.

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