We’ve seen the tears, the candlelight and the prayer too many times.
The Lanthorn has covered two vigils held for the communities affected by religious tragedy this past school year alone. Between both religious communities that encountered hate, the response was the same: respond to violence with love and support within the community.
The premise for these vigils being held is atrocious. While we as a country flaunt innovation and forward thinking, we still suffer from issues associated with intolerance. Religious affiliation is part of a person’s identity and attacks that target people for being people have no place in the world.
But the fact that these vigils were held at all is inspiring.
As we’ve reported, there is no requisite for the university to support or hold a vigil. Frankly, there is no rule in place that a university needs to even speak out against an attack at all, but Grand Valley State University proves once more that it is s trailblazing example of putting students first.
During the days following an attack, students are checked up on, offered resources and given the opportunity to support their communities. Personal emails from administrators shows that when some of us hurt, we all hurt.
For this, we applaud the university, Campus Interfaith Resources and other departments that support it’s students during these tragedies.
Despite this, these are student-organized events from the ground up, which means the passion attendees see comes from student drive alone. Without that, there is no vigil.
Imagine feeling alone in the world, with groups of people that detest you for your beliefs so much to take to arms. Imagine feeling vulnerable, because no one can predict where another attack will happen. Imagine being persecuted for being you.
And now, imagine rallying your community. This involves turning that fear and confusion into a will to serve your people. Leaders invite those who also feel alone to create unity that is unrivaled.
Above all else, these moments are inspiring displays of strength and togetherness. While we never hope to have to see it, vigils prove that the bonds these religious communities form are stronger than hate.
Organizing these vigils is a feat and their participants deserve praise. This includes those who spark the idea, the brave souls who speak and those who stand in the audience to show their support.
In the face of a community-wide tragedy, you hold communities together. Because of you, hate will never win.