What follows is a personal response to the Orlando massacre, motivated by a question I was asked by one of my students here in China.

A private student of mine asked me; his TEFL teacher here in China; unsolicited about Orlando. ‘Why would someone want to kill gays?’. In that one question we capture the disbelief. ‘Why?’. A hate filled act which was one of the worst attacks on the LGBT community since the Admiral nail bombing in the UK, or even the holocaust. The only answer to that kids question is ‘I don’t know’. Who, after all, knows why a person hates people they’ve never met purely ‘cos they’re gay?

All I know is this: while I dislike having to wrap myself up in the labels either ‘gay’ or ‘lgbt’, I’m personally clinging to those very labels very strongly right now. And so is the vast majority of the human world. Whether gay or straight – solidarity with the families, survivors and victims of that truly horrendous bloodbath.

And to anyone thinking that the west is somehow past it, too weak to know how best to respond to such horrific murder think on this:

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

We may not be all conquering nation-states in a newly globalised, multi-polar world. But what we are we are. And what we are is more civilised, enlightened and decent than any hate-filled extremism; or personal philosophy of hate. What we are is a network of countries linked together, on an enlightenment legacy of rationalism, mutual respect for each others liberties. The realms of Descartes, Rousseau and J.S. Mills.We’ll know how to respond. And it won’t weaken our value system, but it shall weaken our enemies.


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