Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
Omar, just 20 years old, saw his hopes of becoming an actor and dancer come to a halt in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub on June 12. It was barely a year ago that Omar walked across the stage during his graduation from La Vergne High School in his native Tennessee before heading to Orlando to pursue his life-long dream. Remembered for charisma and complete dedication to his craft, Omar was also proud to be openly gay. His dynamic personality made those around him feel inspired and empowered. To anyone who knew him, there was no doubt he was profoundly talented and going to be famous someday. Unfortunately, that fame came in the form of being slaughtered by an insane radical with an assault rifle.
One of the particularly admirable traits of people like Omar is their ability to bring people together by treating them with respect and kindness. A look at Omar's fundraising page shows that the customers he served as a barista in a Starbucks in a Target in Orlando mourn the loss of his life alongside his high school classmates. Imagine that, one guy, in a chain coffee shop, in a chain megastore, in a giant city, made a distinct impact, he was able to create a community within a notably sterile corporate macro bubble.
As a final testament to Omar's life, something incredible happened to his grandmother as she was flying alone to Orlando for his funeral. A flight attendant learned of her recent devastation and passed around a sheet of paper so that other passengers could offer their condolences. One sheet of paper turned into several, and by the time the plane touched down the flight attendant had collected a book of handwritten support for his grieving grandmother. On the way out, each passenger stopped and hugged Omar's grandmother, a uniquely personal gesture in our usually impatient existence. In other words, a bunch of passengers on a cramped, budget airline, abandoned their usual crabbiness and cattle chute deplaning to console a stranger's heartache. Even in death, Omar brought an unlikely group of people together in one last community.
I tend to be a casual bystander in a lot of the communities I belong to. I'm there, but not present, and sometimes it feels like more of a geography thing than anything else. Today, in honor of Omar, I'm committing to become a more active participant in my communities. If I join with others working for a common good then we are one pair of hands stronger. Many hands working together has the power to provide the support and strength to build a better world. We're all in this together.