From Orlando with Love and a Wish for a Peaceful World

Love is the answer, not Hate.
Love is the answer, not Hate.

In Israel, where hatred-induced violence can occur at any minute, we in Orlando now better understand in a much more profound manner what is at stake in this world. We’ve witnessed first-hand 49 deaths and 53 gravely injured — young adults simply enjoying an evening together at a nightclub. We know the danger that is inflicted on Israel on a regular basis. Sadly I admit, people often must have personal experience to gain the deepest empathy for our fellow human beings.

Using military style weapons unleashed on human flesh, the destruction in Orlando last Sunday wrought by one hate-filled and clearly troubled man, is hard to comprehend when one looks at the world without hate. I don’t understand how any human being wants to inflict that kind of pain on another. But I’m not naïve. In my family history, that kind of hatred visited us before. Forty-four relatives, including my paternal Czech great-grandmother and grandparents, vanished in the abhorrence of the Holocaust. Robbed of these ancestors before I was born in Florida, they still hold a place in my heart. When I examine my family tree and see 1942, the year they all perished, I wonder if the world will ever reach a time when we learn to live together in peace. When I see their names, I know I must be an agent of change.

In Orlando, I serve on a planning committee for a proposed newly created Holocaust memorial and educational center hoped for in Orlando’s downtown. The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida has operated for over thirty years alongside the Jewish Community Center and School just north of town. The organization is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism, and prejudice with the ultimate goal of developing a moral and just community through its extensive outreach of educational and cultural programs. Using the lesson of the Holocaust as a tool, the Center teaches the principles of good citizenship to thousands of people of all ages, religions, and background each year. We combat hatred, teaching people about the importance of protecting human dignity and rights. The new center will expand greatly what can be accomplished.

The new proposed downtown Orlando center, in early planning stages, will be well-positioned to reach out not only further into our community but to the over sixty-six million annual visitors who come to Orlando. We believe the new center will become the epicenter of respect. We want Orlando to be synonymous with acceptance, respect, learning, and culture. With the recent tragedy propelling Orlando to become the site of the largest mass shooting in American history, there has been an outpouring of love from the entire world. We realize the new Center can become a powerful voice in the quest to gain a better, safer world. We must respect each other, and celebrate our differences and our commonalities. We want the new center to be a catalyst to foster harmony and promote respect and collaboration.

Living through the massacre of innocents, we know our mission to build a beacon of hope for the world has taken on greater importance. Our challenge is of course to find our supporters who believe in this cause and to raise the money necessary to create the center. We welcome all those who wish to be a part of our cause, to reach out. Please let our Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer and our Holocaust Center Executive Director Pam Kancher know if you want to be a part of this dream. We welcome your help, support, and partnership in this cause for peace. Please address any willingness to help to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Holocaust Center Executive Director Pam Kancher and send to

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for the victim’s families and the people of Orlando. We wish you peace and security in our shared mission of a world without hate.

About the Author
Joanie Holzer Schirm is an award-winning author, activist, sought-after public speaker and retired Orlando, Florida award-winning businesswoman. She gained international attention as the Orlando chairman of FIFA's World Cup 1994 and nine years later as the winner of the Global Ebook Award for Best Biography.