Peacemaker Friday: June 17, 2016

In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to despair at the voices of fear, hatred, and violence that seem to drown out all others. But there are voices that are quietly speaking through the pain, reaching across divides, and choosing to love anyway.

For this week’s Peacemaker Friday post, we wanted to share some of these voices, in memory of those who lost their lives.

Muslims reach out to Orlando 
Around the world, Muslim leaders—including those from Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan—condemned the attacks in Orlando, sending condolences and prayers. Across the U.S., Muslim communities expressed outrage at the shootings and voiced solidarity with the LBGTQI community. They joined thousands of Orlando citizens who waited in oppressive Florida heat to donate blood, even as they fasted for the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims in Florida began a fundraising campaign, #Muslims4Pulse, to offer support for families of the shooting victims, noting that they want to “respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action.” So far they have raised more than $70,000. Meanwhile, hundreds of Muslims in New York City joined together to pray for the people of Orlando.


LGBTQI and Muslim leaders stand together
LGBTQI leaders condemned the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment following the attack, saying that it is “simply wrong [to target Muslims] and we are going to speak out against it!” In Orlando and in states across the country, LGBTQI and Muslim leaders stood side by side to mourn the victims and to condemn hatred, violence, and bigotry—in all its forms. “We hope that our history of working together will demonstrate the power of working together in common purpose against hate, violence and demonization of entire communities,” they said.

Acts of sacrificial kindness permeate Orlando
Remarkable stories of compassion and sacrifice have poured out of Orlando this week, as ordinary people choose to love in the face of terror, have been flowing out of Orlando this week.

  • Greg Zanis, whose father-in-law was murdered 20 years ago, drove 1,200 miles—from Illinois to Orlando—to deliver 49 wooden crosses, each bearing a name of one of the victims of the shooting.

  • Jet Blue airlines offered free seats to immediate family members of shooting victims. On one flight, attendant Kelly Karas secretly asked each of the passengers to write a message of condolence to the grandmother, who was on board. The entire flight observed a moment of silence to honor her grandson.

  • As thousands stood in line for hours to donate blood, several Chick-fil-A employees gave up their Sunday off to serve sandwiches and iced tea to hand out to those waiting outside.

  • A number of Orlando citizens handed out water to those donating blood and those at the scene of the shooting. One anonymous man drove four hours to Orlando with a cooler full of drinks.

  • Six-year-old Madison Lindsay’s mother works at Florida Hospital in Orlando and stayed late into the night of the shooting. The next day, with the help of her family members, Madison made over 50 handmade cards and helped distribute them to those who were affected by the shooting or who served in the aftermath.

Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear how you and your community are waging peace right where you are. And stay tuned for more hope-filled peacemaker stories next Friday!