Opinion

Love in the time of terrorism

On Orlando and the meaning of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "love is love is love is love is love is love"

Love is a verb.

In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, I keep thinking about love, its active quality, the movement it brings to muscle and bone. Love isn't vague, it's not amorphous, it's not the promise of warm feelings and gauzy visions — it's an action. Love is steps taken.

In a world that still denies the validity of anything but straight, cis-gendered, two-partnered love, we still find that we have to say something that we should never have to say: All humans have the right to live and love. Love, to lift directly from Lin-Manuel Miranda, is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.

And yet to be in the LGBTQ community and choose to love openly is, as many members of that community have said in the days since the massacre, a radical act. Choosing to choose love is brave. It's rebellion. It shouldn't be. But it is.

Love is a verb — love is an action. Love uses muscle and bone — our feet, our hands, our words, our voices, our loudness, and our righteousness — to demand justice for our neighbors, from our elected officials, in our politics. It is found in the mundane and in the routine, between laundry and the groceries. Love is rarely grand. It is sometimes bold, but it is mostly relentless. To quote St. Paul, "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." I will protect you, love says; I will trust you and live in hope. I will persevere.

Love, then, is standing in line for hours to give blood — but it's also asking our gay neighbors how they are, how they're holding up, and how are the kids? Love is breaking silence when ugly things are said in our presence, online, or on the floor of Congress. It's telling our Muslim co-workers that we worry about them, that Donald Trump frightens us, and how are the kids?

Love is walking with our immigrant friends, our Latino friends, our brown and black and multi-hued friends, our women friends, our hurting friends, our friends who look like us — no matter what we look like — but who have a story about which we know nothing. Love is reading the stories of those murdered in Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino, Newtown, Virginia Tech, and teaching our children that every one of those lives was as precious as their own.

Love is loud. In this of all years, love is voting. Love is writing to our senators, our city hall, our local paper, saying unequivocally that love requires an end to gun fetishes and their attendant profits; that love demands no one be scapegoated for the actions of a few; that love is love is love is love.

Love is a verb, and its object is people. We can no longer make room for ideas over people, objects over people, fear over people. We're dying; we're killing each other. Only love can can keep us alive.

But love will not win if we do not join the fight. Love is not a panacea, it is not a god, it is not above or beneath or beyond our doing. Love is a verb. It is a human act. And only when we choose it, will we turn the tide.

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