On Monday night, Jimmy Fallon opened The Tonight Show with a heartfelt monologue regarding the mass shooting that occurred at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning.
The act of terror left 50 people dead, including the gunman, and 53 more wounded.
“I know everyone is angry right now and not knowing how to react,” said Fallon. “But this is a time when people are looking to us as a country and how we will react.”
“This country was built on the idea that we do not all agree on everything. That we are a tolerant, free nation that encourages debate, free thinking, believing—or not—in what we choose.”
Fallon spoke of how he, as a dad to young children, wondered what to tell his kids about the shooting, and what we might as a nation be able to learn from the tragedy. “What if my kids are gay? What do I tell them?” he pondered aloud, his demeanor somber.
“Maybe there’s a lesson here on tolerance. We need to support each others’ differences and worry less about our own opinions,” he said.
This could be profound, if challenging, advice to heed in a heated election year. How can we work on being tolerant when we hold our own views with such passion?
“We need to get back to debate and away from believing or supporting the idea that if someone doesn’t live the way you want them to live, you just buy a gun and kill them. Just bomb them up. That is not okay.”
“We need to get back to being brave enough to accept that we have different opinions, and that’s okay, because that’s what America is built on. The idea that we can stand up and speak our minds and live our lives and not be punished for that. Or mocked on the Internet. Or killed by someone you don’t know.”
Perhaps the most impactful part of Fallon’s speech was toward the end, as he brought some perspective to the tragedy that has left our nation reeling. “This was just one bad guy here,” he said. “49 good people. And one bad guy. And there will always be more good than evil.”
He continued with some words on the spirit of Orlando—a place known for fun and families.
“Keep loving each other, keep respecting each other, and keep on dancing,” he said.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: YouTube screenshot
Editors: Nicole Cameron; Emily Bartran