The Annual Candle Light Vigil and Purple Tie Awards took place at the Glendale YWCA on October 3. The event coincides with the start of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A very meaningful evening (as always) was organized by the YWCA under the leadership of Tara Peterson.
The stats on DV are overwhelming. https://ncadv.org/statistics
With local dignitaries, political leaders and activists in attendance, Fr. Vazken Movsesian was invited to offer the closing remarks and a "message of hope." It follows:
If you’ve ever been in a hospital for some serious fixing, such as a surgery, you probably will share my sentiment – you hope you never have to be in a place like that, but you thank God there is such a place when you need it. The same is true of the YWCA’s Domestic Violence program: you hope you never need it, but thank God it’s there for those in need. Of course, ultimately we hope there will come a day when we will not need such programs or such gatherings. But sadly, as we witness the conversations taking place in the world, and the divisive nature of those conversations, it seems like we are de-evolving to a point where anger, malicious speech and violence are becoming more and more tolerated.
The YWCA today is asking us to take a stand for the victims. I’d like to share with you a story that played out on our streets here in Glendale just five years ago. An Armenian American woman, having been in an abusive marriage for over 20 years finally had the strength (and the opportunity) to escape her home and seek help from the beatings and abuse that had consumed two decades of her human existence. That evening she went door-to-door in her apartment building and later to other houses in the area desperately asking for help, for shelter, for someone to take a stand with her. One-by-one she was told by so-called friends and even relatives, to go back home. “It is shameful for you to speak that way about your husband.” “Keep the sanctity of your home intact” which is another way of saying, “Grin and bear it.” And all of these responses came to her in her native Armenian language. For 15 long and terrifying minutes she went door-to-door until an African American woman took her in, tended to her pain and called the police. I remember this story, because I was there the following day. That night, that African American woman was the only one who took a stand for the victim. It is this action that we are called to take this evening.
You see, in my tradition, and I’m sure in many of yours, we have heard this same story told over 2000 years ago by Jesus, about a man who is beaten by robbers and a priest swings by and probably offered a prayer for the beaten man, a lawyer of the law – a man of means who perhaps even understood that beatings were illegal, but he too passed by the victim. But it is then that a pre-judged lowly Samaritan who comes by and tends to the man’s needs. Yes, the story of the Good Samaritan is the story of a man who took a stand. And while well-meaning religious groups and ministers will take time to explain who and what a Samaritan is, we miss the simple point that Jesus was making when he answered the question: “Who is my neighbor?” It’s the one who takes a stand. And be assured that if Jesus were talking to us today, he would certainly use the story of the Armenian American woman who sought help and the African American woman who opened the door and became a neighbor, who took a stand. It’s that simple. It’s not complicated. Taking a stand, means we care for one another and we act upon that caring.
While we pray for an end to domestic violence, while we offer proclamations from government officials, there is still only one answer to who is my neighbor? It’s the one who takes a stand. Take a stand today. And not only today at this vigil, let's make it an on-going vigil to Take a Stand.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this most amazing evening.