U.S. Marines are not known for peacefulness, though they are quite well known for protection and ferocity. The military machine that has turned the tide in many wars has also produced many of our most well-known war heroes, like Chesty Puller, and inspired colorful nicknames like “Devil Dogs,” due to their fierceness in battle during WWI.
When instead of attack, one of these men calls for unity and mutual understanding in the wake of a terrorist massacre, it may seem to be a little outside of the “stereotype,” but perhaps stereotypes, in general, are the problem.
Troy Elkins, who is a doting daddy of a rambunctious little girl, is also a prior service Marine and Sheriffs Deputy. Elkins is now a History Grad Student and a man of some pretty powerful words. His Facebook post on Monday, describing his reaction to this massacre, is not a call for battle but a message of unity and compassion through understanding.
Full Text here, used with permission, emphasis mine (post):
I have thought deeply over the last day about the hate rampage in Orlando. I awoke Sunday morning, listening to the news. I quickly changed the channel – I was not ready to deal with it. Hundreds of miles away, not knowing anyone involved and I was not ready to deal with it. I cannot imagine being the father sitting by my phone waiting for the news, already knowing what the answer is.
Our society is sick and everyone knows it. We turn our backs on the easiest cure and instead throw language out or ideals out that divide us further. This is not just a gay problem, this problem belongs to Christians, Muslims, straight, gay, Democrats, Republics, Libertarians, white, black, Hispanic, Arabic, rich, poor, white collar, and blue collar. IT IS ALL OF OUR PROBLEM.
We divide ourselves into our own little categories – the people we think we are – the people we like to hang out with and demonize those we don’t know. We give very little effort to meet them, to get to understand them, learn of their trials, and show empathy. Instead we lash out on social media because those “others” do not think like we do, follow the same religion like we do, or have the same political ideology that we do.
No one side has the panacea for our sick society, because there isn’t one. We have become so focused into ensuring the ideology we believe in cures all ills we ignore the basic, most fundamental cure for our divided society. We hide from our neighbors, refuse to talk to anyone who is “different” and insulate ourselves in groups of like mindedness. Ideas become stagnate, empathy for fellow humans withers, and hate grows. We ignore the one the simplest solution- a vaccination for hate.
Get to know people. Meet your neighbors, talk to people with different ideas and likes than you. When I say talk – sit down and LISTEN. Wave to people. Say hello, smile and look people in the eyes. Get your head out of your cell phone and interact with people you encounter as you walk down the street. QUIT INSULATING YOURSELF and learn about others from them- not from some website.
To the LGBT community. I know you are scared, I know you are angry, I know you are hurt. You are not alone in this. There are millions of us that stand with you. There are many of us that will stand to protect you. If you are among this group and are scared, find me.
I will stand in front of you.
“I will stand in front of you.” Some seriously powerful words, especially coming from a man who knows what that entails intimately.
There are so many in the LGBT community who don’t even feel safe coming out, especially transgender people and bisexual men, because of the effect that doing so can have on them; not to mention the fear that some random homophobe will take their life. If not because of their religion, but because of their fear of that which they don’t understand.
The majority in this country rejects this kind of hatred, but that didn’t stop this massacre or the many, and increasing, killings of transgender women. And this all predated the most deadly massacre in US history, a crime that targeted the LGBT community exclusively.
Perhaps this is a call to battle, after all, but the enemy in this situation is not who the Islamophobic, Homophobic, and Xenophobic crowd would like us to believe it is — the enemy is hate and fear.
Featured image via Daniel Munoz/Getty Images