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When One Suffers, We All Suffer

Residents of the Castro Valley area gathered Sunday evening, Jun 12, at the corner of Castro Valley Boulevard and Redwood Road to express solidarity with local LGBT groups and with victims of the Orlando night club massacre. The event was organized by Castro Valley Matters, a grassroots community action organization led by Michael Kusiack.

Congressman Eric Swalwell and I were asked by the organizers to address the 50-plus residents who gathered for the event. Congressman Swalwell thanked participants for attending, bringing their children to the event, and expressing the power of love in the face of hate. He also shared his personal commitment to community safety and his belief that love will ultimately triumph over evil.

I reflected on the sharp contrast between the 21st Hayward Gay Prom held on Jun 4 and the Orlando massacre that occurred on Jun 12. I said that the Prom illustrated how much progress we’ve made in our country to promote LGBT pride and inclusion, and the massacre revealed how much more work we still have to do to dismantle the structural and insidious homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism that persists.

Orlando was a tragedy that could have been prevented through education, gun control, and better mental health services. Irrational fear of strangers is learned. We can dismantle it and teach healthier lessons. Citizens do not need assault weapons in order to affirm their first amendment rights. Healthy people don’t create mass carnage in night clubs. Deeply troubled people do.

I projected that when the media spotlight dimmed and the TV trucks were covering the next mass shooting in another U.S. city, stories will have surfaced about a man with a deeply troubled history. People will have expressed regret about noticing, but not acting or acting but not being able to get the shooter help.

The beat goes on because, apparently, things haven’t gotten bad enough for a critical number of people to say “No” and put an end to this insanity. Hello America, things don’t have to be like this. We have choices. We can do better. We have to.

Thank you, Eden Church, for being part of the answer to prayer that so many are dying to experience.

Pastor Arlene

 

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