Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pony Club, Love, and Orlando

As I type this, it's very early in the morning on the third and final day of pony club camp. I have a dozen mostly-teenagers sleeping in my basement. In an hour or so, they will wake themselves up, select breakfast from the food I've laid out for them, stuff their sleeping bags into my car (I'll drive it over to the barn) and then set out across the fields to the camp barn, laughing and chattering in the early light. Our club does camp exceptionally well. Every year I marvel at how these kids learn to work together, learn to truly be a team.

Eleven years ago my son captained a team at quiz rally, an unmounted regional pony club competition. His team won, beating something like 11 other teams, mostly due to the fact that they'd come to trust each other and work together. I can still picture their faces when at the end of a very long day they found out that they'd won. I can still remember their joy.

One of the children on that quiz team, now all young adults out of or near the end of college, is gay. One of those children, who is gay, posted yesterday on Facebook how scary it was to be singled out in hatred because of something intrinsic to their very being. My heart is breaking for that child, now a fine adult, for Orlando, for us all.

My novel For Freedom tells the true story of a 16-year-old who fought the Nazis in the French Resistance during World War II. Of the 23 people in her group, 2 survived the war. She knew those odds from the start. She fought, she told me, because she never wanted to look back and admit she had not acted against the horrors of Nazi Germany. She fought for her own freedom, for freedom of conscience.

I think that gun control is a complicated issue in our country--we've got an awful lot of guns on the street already, and no matter what we do they aren't going to disappear. I think we have to work toward gun control anyhow. We have to at least try something, at least make it a little bit harder to acquire the means to shoot a hundred people in a crowd.

I'm also going to keep standing up for humanity: for gay people, for straight people, for transgender people. Black people, white people, Latinos, Muslims, Catholics, Jews. I watched the Tonys on Sunday because I love the musical Hamilton, so got to see Lin-Manuel Miranda recite an incredible sonnet that paid homage to his wife, his musical creation, and the victims in Orlando. It ended,

We chase the melodies that seem to find us 
Until they’re finished songs and start to play 
When senseless acts of tragedy 
Remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day, 
The show is proof that history remembers; 
We live through times when hate and fear seems stronger, 
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, 
Remembrances that hope and love last longer.
And love is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love. 
Cannot be killed or swept aside. 
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story. 
Now fill the world with music, love and pride.
Every one of the people in that nightclub was loved. Every one of the people in that nightclub were worthy of love. We are all of us put here to love.