Early in the morning Feb. 11, Thousand Oaks community members, high school students and California Lutheran University students and staff stood together in an act of peaceful protest against members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Armed with signs of love and support for the LGBTQ community that WBC often speaks out against, their purpose was “to create a silent wall of love,” according to a Campus Ministry post on The Hub.
This is becoming a more common sight as the WBC members continue to picket based on beliefs that every natural disaster or major crime is an act of God. While it is painful to see the angry signs proclaiming the Borderline shooting and recent fires were simply punishment from a higher power, there is no avoiding the fact that this group has the same right as the rest of us to speak their minds under the First Amendment.
It is useless to wish that messages like theirs didn’t exist in the world. Our energy and time is better spent focusing on promoting the messages of positivity we believe in, like those Cal Lutheran’s PRIDE Club, Center for Equality and Justice and Campus Ministry made visible today. Erasing hate might be impossible, but drowning it out with compassion has been proven again to be an instinct for this campus.
“It seems like incidents of hate have become commonplace in our society and sometimes it can feel normal, but it’s not. It’s not normal,” said Campus Minister Hazel Salazar-Davidson. “Actually what is normal and what God wants to see as normal is a sense of community and support.”
Seeing the way the Cal Lutheran community has responded to everything it has been faced with in the past few months only solidifies one idea in my mind. Our love is stronger when it is forced to overcome hate. The unjustified anger of the WBC did us a favor in illuminating what is good about the Cal Lutheran and Thousand Oaks community.
Even when faced with negativity, the overwhelming focus of today was joy. While it is easy to wish people who spread messages like the WBC did not exist, they are a reminder to stand firmly in our instincts to support each other. As long as we have that, the hateful rhetoric will be nothing but background noise.