At 2am local time on Sunday 12th of June, tragedy struck in Orlando. Innocent people suffered at the hands of hatred and violence. All over the world people felt pain, anger, despair. They wanted to join together in friendship and solidarity. To find solace in a shared disbelief at the events that had unfolded. Social media, by its very nature, provides a platform for people to come together with a shared purpose. As with Paris and Brussels before it, profiles across social media lit up with colour to show support for the American people and remembrance for their loss.
On that same Sunday, however, four women were killed in Nigeria, a bomb injured two in Lebanon, and three people were killed by suicide bombers in Libya. The following day, a policeman and his wife were stabbed to death in Paris, nineteen people were executed and an army officer shot dead in Iraq, in Uganda a police station was attacked, killing one soldier and injuring others and in The Phillipines, a Canadian hostage was executed. Each one of these incidences claimed the lives of innocent people, in the name of war. Each one of those people suffered at the hands of hatred and violence. For this reason, I have not used the Facebook app to change my profile picture to one with rainbows. It's not because I don't care, it's really not. I am with you Orlando. I am. I stand by your side, against brutality and prejudice. My heart goes out to all the family, friends and witnesses affected by that horrendous act, but I also stand beside everyone else who has fallen in the name of religion or intolerance. Every victim, regardless of where they are in the world, deserves our thoughts and prayers for a peaceful future. It doesn't matter what the 'reasons' were. There are no reasons for murder, just pointless loss. For all those people who have lost their lives and everyone they left behind, this is my profile picture. It's an olive branch. I made it myself, so it isn't perfect, but I tried to pick a symbol that wasn't specific to anything, so that it could represent everyone caught up in extremist acts. For Orlando, for Paris, for Brussels, and for all those other atrocities, all over the world, too numerous to make the headlines, let's stand beside them all.