Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thoughts shared at the Las Cruces (sponsored by the Las Cruces PFLAG chapter) Candlelight Vigil for the Victims of the Orlando Attack on June 12, 2016

It was a privilege to attend the Las Cruces Candlelight Vigil on 
 June 12 for the Victims of the Orlando attack. It was probably the most diverse gathering of community members I have seen in Las Cruces.  
        When it was my turn to speak, I decided not to read the statement from the Reform movement (which was VERY good) and, instead, talk about being on the front lines when a certain group of picketers in Topeka began their sign-carrying and appearances around town 25 years ago, and how my name ended up on a sign 22 years ago (F** KAROL with a swastika on the sign), which made appearances all around town in the years following.  I spoke of how I was trying, in the days after the sign made its first appearance, to come up with a positive take on the F** word by making it into an acronym for some meaningful phrase. Fostering Acceptance and Goodness sounded good, but the Rev. Paul Evans, minister at the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka and our Temple keyboard player, suggested, "how about Faithful And Godly?" In light of this attack, I told the people gathered that we can remind ourselves, in light of this tragic attack, that faithful and godly people don't act out of hatred or commit violence, but, instead, they come together and act based on love (I defined godly as, on some level, "seeing that we are all connected"!).  
Pastor Jared Carson,
Peace Lutheran Church
   I noted that, in the statement from Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center, he said: "On this holiday of Shavuot, we engage in all night study and reflection of the words and lessons of Torah. No lesson is more fundamental than that which teaches that the spark of the Divine is
Radwan Jallad,
Las Cruces Islamic Center
present in every individual - gay and straight, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.  In the face of tragedy, let us come together in a spirit of love and compassion for all and work together to create a nation that rejects violence and instead celebrates the holiness of every human being."

On the way home from the vigil, my 
odometer on our new Toyota Corolla gave me a message. "1818" it read. The Hebrew letters that, together, equal 18 spell the word life (CHAI). 1818 is double chai. Today, of all days, we need a double dose of life when so many lives were taken. So may we do what we can to preserve life and make it meaningful for everyone. 

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