Today marks the funeral of Hailey Owens. Leading up to this day we have seen thousands of people from all faiths and no faith take to the streets grieve and to support the Owens family.
Last Saturday, the Skepticrew in Springfield were a part of a vigil of almost 10,000 people. It was awkward and beautiful, as one would expect from a short-notice procession run by volunteers. People brought and shared candles. Up and down the line, a woman passed out tin foil to keep hot wax off fingers. When my friend’s back injuries from Iraq acted up, a local business lent a chair so he could still participate. People locked themselves together, arm-in-arm, to ensure that there would be no disrupting the procession. Some sang hymns, others chanted Kaddish, the majority kept a respectful silence. It was beautiful.
Credit Eric Wells
As beautiful as it is, this gesture is not enough. Many came to grieve and to support the family, others came to spite Westboro. So many people comment about how this is shocking- their eyes now open to new dangers and fears. Others were never blind the tragedies happening in our community.
Unless prudent action comes out of this, every shocked face, every tear, every outpouring of community support is empty community theatre. Politicians will congratulate themselves on passing new laws with harsher punishments that never would have prevented the crime in the first place. Facebook profiles will be left changed for weeks. These well-intentioned gestures are worthless compared to prudent action.
There is nothing that can undo this tragedy. There may not be a feasible way to prevent such a crime in the future. However, if you care about children in your community, there are kids in your community in tough times that you can help. There are countless ways to help- one way is to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters.