Uniting in Strength and Love after the Orlando Shooting


In the wake of the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society grieve for the senseless harm, the lives lost and the ignorance, hatred and intolerance that brought it about. We stand in resilience, committed to supporting the LGBTIQ community. We are inspired by the broad call to focus on love and compassion as we unite contemplative practices, education, and social action in order to make this a more just and compassionate world for all. By fostering greater awareness of what influences each of us personally, interpersonally, and systemically, we can all take the first steps toward uniting in strength and love, working toward a society that respects and embraces our common humanity and collective dignity.

Here are personal reflections from some of CMind’s staff and board. We invite you to leave your own reflection in the comments.

After attending with excitement the Washington DC Pride parade and then learning with shock of the terrible tragedy in Orlando, and after viewing with tears the funeral of Muhammad Ali, I am compelled to say something to express my, sadness, anger, memories and the promise of a contemplative mind.

The DC Pride joyfully expressed a collective act of love and community and was a wonderful example of humanity, of differences that belong together. Then came the Orlando massacre, reminding me that there are too many hateful tragedies both here and abroad that beg for a contemplative process for deepening understanding of difference and disagreements and for revealing ways of loving action.

Muhammad Ali’s interfaith funeral brought thoughts of his inspired bravery and his contemplative motivation. I played “hooky” for the first time when my friend and I cut our high school classes to see Ali speak at Stanford University after he was stripped of his boxing license and title for denouncing the Viet Nam war and refusing to enter the US Army. He was amazing.  He was inspirational, and his defiance emboldened me to not register for the draft several years later. The Nation of Islam grounded Ali’s contemplative practice inside and outside of the ring while propelling his activist resistance with authentic and courageous moral leadership. Like many of the survivors and supporters of Orlando, Ali’s life demonstrated a powerful sense of loving action.

– Brad Grant, Chair, Board of Directors

I would like to list the names and ages of those whose lives were taken. As I read each name, I reflect on the beautiful potential and promise we each carry within us, and I re-dedicate myself to strength and tenderness.

– Carrie Bergman, Associate Director


Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Kimberly Morris, 37
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Amanda Alvear, 25
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Cory James Connell, 21
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Frank Hernandez, 27
Paul Terrell Henry, 41

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