Many folks who came Friday, June 21st, had the honor of meeting new community members we hadn't met before and the feeling of unity around a cause was something that I had never experienced. Sure, we have general unity around things in my generation (I am 35), but this was different. It was big and it really meant something to be a part of it. It was something that I knew I had to be a part of at any cost because of what I believed about the world.
Being together and standing in solidarity against hate and bigotry with other people transformed the hate of the WBC into a beautiful event, overflowing with love, understanding and support. I find it ironic that what occurred was just the opposite of what WBC would have wanted. So in a sense, they brought us all closer together and reiterated the point that we are a community, people do care and we will stand together against bigotry and hatred. We will not accept them in our town, not today, or any day.
In my quest to learn more about WBC so we could counter them appropriately, I ran across the story of Nathan Phelps, one of the children of the elder Phelps that broke out of the family and is an advocate against the family's hate and bigotry. If any member of the Phelps family should get publicity, it should be him. When WBC threatens to come to a community, community press outlets should start writing about him, publicizing his escape from the family, and condemnation of their values, and his commitment to love, acceptance and stand against bigotry.
Also, just because the WBC folks didn't show doesn't mean it is over....They could target us and those we love again, or those who served our county. People need to work with their local legislators to see what legislation can be potentially enacted. Some cities and jurisdictions enacted laws or policies that don't allow disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral. I for one will be calling Paul Cook's aides to see if he has any interest in bringing something like this forward in Riverside and SB Counties. I will speak to those elected officials who can make something happen that can safeguard funerals, seeking the highest level of dignity and respect for those being honored in ceremony for their lives and sacrifices.
We still have much work to do, and the most exciting thing is that I found out that we can do it together. Each one of us that stood for PFC Tyler Davis and against hatred and bigotry should reach out to our elected officials, and use this unity to ensure that funerals in our area have the most protection, dignity and respect as possible under the law. Thanks for reading Neighbors.........