The tragedy of a mass gun shooting , such as the one in Orlando, Florida last night, goes beyond the senselessness of lost lives, it’s also the fueled hatred of bigotry that continues to burn. We pray for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender friends who have suffered such devastation, and we also pray for our Muslim friends who suffer at the hands of ignorance, believing that a whole group of people is responsible for one outrageous act.
In the honor of transparency, I (Kristen, co-owner) was initially hesitant to write this blog post. I do my best to separate my business from my political and social beliefs, hoping not to isolate anyone from our company. But I realized that my silence would be deafening. If I can publicly advocate for the lives of animals, especially pitbulls, who are wrongfully stereotyped, why am I afraid to advocate for humanity? I decided that if people were offended by my preaching of peace and pride, then I am just sorry for them.
I understand the feelings of rage, anger, and the desire for revenge in times of such dismay. I am a child of the first Iraq War, a New Yorker during September 11th, a Staten Islander of Eric Garner, a Northerner of the Boston Marathon, but also a Staten Islander of Hurricane Sandy, an American of Hurricane Katrina, and I still love Mother Nature. I am a born-and-raised Italian Roman Catholic, but I am also an Austrian Jew, whose grandmother and great-grandparents were victims of the Holocaust, and I still love my Germanic heritage. It’s so easy to hate because history, and moments such as these, make it easy to hate. But hate is what started everything. You cannot drown a fire with the same fuel used to make it burn. As my fellow New Yorker, Billy Joel, once said: “We didn’t start the fire,” but we can certainly do our part to end it.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Today, I will not be silent, no matter who is offended. I am preaching peace and pride for people of all colors, all religions, all sexual orientations. On Saturday, July 16, 2016, we will proudly have a vending stand at the Staten Island Pride Fest. You don’t have to be something to love something. I proudly stand for the same for all people. I cannot be afraid to stand for what I believe in; to stand up for people who are being berated, ostracized, indemnified for the crimes of one. I urge you to do the same.
I urge you to preach peace and pride, because only when we speak up and advocate that intolerance is not tolerated will people begin to shift. We cannot accept hatred and bigotry as the norm. Mahatma Ghandi’s legacy remains: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”