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The Orlando Tragedy and San Antonio: Every Sunset is a Rainbow

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Author: Dr. Jon Berman | Category: Beyond The Bench | June 17, 2016

Dr. Jon Berman, a postdoc in the Department of Physiology, writes about the Orlando Tragedy and the impact it had on UT Health Science Center.

When the sun sets rays of light must past through more atmosphere to reach our eyes. The atmosphere scatters high energy blue light more easily, leaving low energy reds, oranges and yellows appearing in the sky close to the sun itself. 

The result is a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet as your eye moves from the horizon to the zenith. This accident of the combination of our star and our atmospheric composition is beautiful and worth checking out from time to time.

Last weekend, the Orlando shooter committed a series of horrible acts of violence that defied comprehension. No one has figured out his motive and it doesn’t matter.

 I’ll quote Fred Rogers “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ 

To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

In the aftermath of tragedy, there are thousands—millions—who want nothing more than to help. For every jerk who commits an act of violence there are a million who want to live lives full of dancing and singing, family, and joy. 

We need to be reminded at these times that we live in a golden age of non-violence. A human being today is less likely to die of violence than at any other time in human history and the trend is continuing downward. The great arc of history has moved toward cooperation and kindness and I hope that continues.

This act was targeted at one of the most vulnerable segments of our society. Although UTHSCSA is in a way isolated—protected by its own police and one its own campus, it doesn’t exist without the community that is and surrounds San Antonio. This Thursday, I saw that community come together to remember and celebrate the lives that were lost. 

Hundreds of people of all politics, all orientations, all religions and no religion gathered to celebrate human dignity and the fact that we all mostly want the same things and that we all can mostly get along.

Names were read, prayers made to various gods, and songs were sung. When "Imagine" was sung everyone joined in and when we reached the first chorus I couldn’t sing anymore. I thought it was because I had forgotten the words, but I realized that I was weeping too hard to sing. John Lennon was right—he wasn’t the only dreamer. 

Since the song was written the dreamers have outnumbered those who don’t and we all have the same dream of living joyous lives full of prosperity and peace.

Of course a few people brought their own agendas but none of that mattered. The sun set, and every wavelength scattered and went their separate ways. Humanity is beautiful and worth checking out from time to time. 

The "Beyond The Bench" series features articles written by students and postdoctoral fellows at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. 

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