Lifting Up the Marginalized and Hoping for Enlightenment
This afternoon, I attended a moving campus vigil for the people killed in the Mosque shootings in New Zealand on Friday. The remarks of those who spoke focused on loss and forgiveness and for resisting the temptations of hatred.
Human history is a cavalcade of intolerance, of atrocities and tragedies, but it is also a procession of hope that one day, we will be better. That is the heart of our work in higher education. We seek to become better, to help our students to be better than we have been, and to help all of us to better appreciate the value of humanity.
Minutes before the vigil began, I received a posting chastising me for supporting the University’s first Lavender Graduation, which will be an opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQ+ graduates. The author asked why this accomplishment deserved separate recognition and questioned our commitment to Lutheran values.
It deserves recognition because these students have accomplished much while committing to being their authentic selves in a world populated by so many people as intolerant as the author of the post.
This celebration is also consonant with the values of the Lutheran Church. At their1991 Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA passed a resolution stating that, “Gay and lesbian people, as individuals created by God, are welcome to participate fully in the life of the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” Same-sex marriages have been celebrated at ELCA churches across the country, and since 2010, the church has ordained openly LGBTQ ministers.
My heart goes out to those affected by Friday’s tragedy, and my thoughts turn to all members of our community who feel marginalized. My strongest hopes are upon those who create the margins. May they learn to love and respect all their neighbors for who they are. That is what we are truly called to do.