Orlando

12 noon Sunday June 12

I have just been watching the CBC news reports of the terrible mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I can hardly believe that almost a year ago, I was in Orlando, on my way to the joyous 50th anniversary celebration of ‘Up With People‘.

I believe with all my heart that this is a time for all of us to reach out, to affirm people who are different from ourselves, to go beyond the instinctive tribalism that can so easily escalate.

I was immensely touched by the Islamic spiritual leader who spoke at a press conference in Orlando along with the mayor, FBI representatives and law enforcement officers. He asked that all of us, no matter from which religious background, come together in the face of this tragedy.

I believe those of us from an Irish background have something powerful to say at this moment, out of the suffering of the past, when all people all over the world are deciding whether to reach out, or whether to retreat into tribal units, with the ever-present possibility of violent conflict.

I would like to say more about this, but right now I find the tears welling up. I just heard a mother in Orlando wailing, not knowing whether her son is dead or alive. Also a young man who witnessed the horror and has lost faith in life.

I watched the joyous celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday in London, a city where Neil and I spent so many happy hours. What a courageous lady! Last night I stayed up to watch a gorgeous CBC program ‘The Queen at 90’, which I believe will be repeated tonight. I recommend it, whether you are a monarchist or not. We need moments like this to stop and celebrate.

And may I add the Irish people have shown we need large doses of laughter if we are going to survive.

Catharine Fleming McKenty, Westmount, Quebec