Douglas Roche


July 25, 2016

"There's nothing you can do about anything in the world anymore."

These anguished words of a survivor in the Orlando mass shooting seared my mind. Out of the agony of losing a loved one to wholesale murder came this cry of despair.

I watched his face on TV. His eyes seemed vacant, his body numbed by the shock of the mayhem in a gay nightclub where a gunman murdered 49 people.

The Orlando attack was just the latest of a long list of mass shootings in the U.S. More carnage has recently occurred in Paris, Istanbul, Bangladesh and many Middle Eastern countries.

If you look up the list of terrorist attacks and mass killings in just the past year, it is stunning to realize how much violence there is in the world.

Often I hate to turn on the TV because I don't want to see more graphic details of killings. I get depressed.

I understand how abandoned the Orlando survivor felt. I get angry at supine politicians who pay only lip service to victims and don't really do anything about making the world a safer place.

Is the Orlando survivor right? Is disorder so out of control that there's nothing we can do? Think about this for a moment.

The sale of arms and the pileup of weaponry around the world are only the most visible signs of violence. The weak laws on gun control are usually blamed for mass killings. This is what the Orlando survivor sees, and he despairs.

Even President Barack Obama, for all his power, seems helpless every time he speaks publicly following an attack.


Mass murder, when it occurs in North America, gets special attention in our media, but the violation of humanity on a mass scale is not confined to any geographical area. Nor does it always involve blatant murder.

Human rights are violated in many ways, particularly in the economic and social discrimination faced by the bottom half of humanity. People who live in fragile states are the most vulnerable.

Many systems in the world today, starting with the United Nations and its plethora of agencies, are working to build up the economic and social conditions for humanity. The UN Security Council was charged with maintaining peace and security in the world.

We have the instruments for peace and human security, but they are all underfunded and few receive any political attention.

So it is not true to say there is nothing we can do to make the world better. But we have to believe more in the instruments at hand, and we have to speak out more to protect them and fund them for proper growth.


Hope for a better future is not an abstract thought. We must seize the means for hope in order to survive the avalanche of bad news. This is a struggle for each of us, myself included, in order to combat the talons of despair that are engulfing the Orlando survivor.

Sometimes it appears that we are being dragged down by the evil in the world. There's a lot to be said about the responsibilities of the media and political establishments who seem to think confrontation is the norm of life.

I see a public that is weakened by the inundation of bad news and politicians who are afraid to take strong stands for equity and justice.

Those of us - whatever our occupation - who do see beyond the headlines of the day have a special responsibility to lift up the community around us. We must believe more deeply in our own power to change the disorder in the world to stability and justice.


That outward exertion of belief will generate more hope. We can't wait for the world to get better before we can have some hope. We have to step up now and multiply the reasons for hope that already exist.

This probably isn't much consolation to the Orlando survivor in mourning. There are no easy words to assuage grief. Nor can we depend on the old saying that everything will be all right in the end. Maybe there are terrifying events still to come before enough of humanity will be awakened to force change on the political systems.

None of us knows what's ahead, and I myself have to fight off fears. The only way I can do this is to plunge back into work, knowing that reaching out is the only way I will find the hope I seek.