BEING A TRAFFIC REPORTER DURING NEWS OF A MASS SHOOTING
It was not an easy morning to be a traffic reporter. There I was in front of the green screen talking about congestion on the roads right after a story aired about the Orlando shooting. I almost felt, silly.
But it’s not a new feeling waking up to details of a shooting, and so I kept my composure and told you not to take the Alex Fraser Bridge today. That's my job.
In simple terms, the motive for the Orlando massacre is the same as all the others.
Early on Sunday morning, a man armed with an assault rifle killed 50 people at a nightclub, many of whom were part of the LGBTQ community. It is being called the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and a rampage Obama has denounced as an act of terror and – there’s that word again - hate.
The gunman, who was shot dead during the SWAT operation, had reportedly committed the act of violence in the name of the terrorist organization, IS.
While building traffic graphs, I hear updates on the shooting through my earpiece; the roads on my screen turn bright red with each new accident.
As the families of the victims were contacted, new details emerged. The first body to be identified, Edward Sotomayor Jr., died trying to save his boyfriend by shielding him from gunfire.
The mother of Eddie Jamoldroy Justice shared texts her son sent from the club during the attack. "Mommy I love you," and at 2:08 a.m., "I'm gonna die."
As the world waits to find out whywhywhy this happened yet again, the truth – perhaps - is that finding out why will explain very little. Hate will never make sense because any reason to hate a stranger is senseless.
Nonetheless, the rhetoric of bigotry seeps through reason, and when it is consistent and widespread, common sense would say we are less safe than ever before.
And so, we are left without answers and sick at the thought of never knowing when the next attack will be. No one leaves the house thinking they won't come back.
I hear the anchor wrap a story and I'll be going live any second. So, how's it looking out there?
One thing is predictable in the aftermath of such a tragedy: many will ask that we fear an entire group or reiterate the message that Muslims are evil.
And so, hate remains.
When the narrative turns away from that of love and acceptance to radicalization and the plague of terrorism, hate remains.
The roads are slick so buckle up, go the speed limit, don't look at your phone, shoulder-check, come to a complete stop.
Can we – as a society – assume to ever be truly safe? Gun control, extremist behaviour, and mental health are on the docket, while a future with less hate seems farther down the road.
And yet across the world today you will see people from all walks of life in solidarity. We will call for more love and for our short time on this earth to be spent in harmony. We will write and share and change our photos to rainbows; we will cry and beg and argue.
We may not know why bad things happen, but we do have the choice to let it break us or bond us.
These are just words, I know. And of course, on a day like this, hope feels like a weak thread in a world that's unraveling.
In the long term, perhaps it is the willingness to love those whom we don’t understand that can save us. Until then, we must believe that - maybe, just maybe - it will all get better around the next bend.
For a full list of the victims: cityoforlando.net