Purple can represent several social awareness issues. I have learned the color reflects the injustice of Elder Abuse, Domestic violence, and mental illnesses that marginalize people. I will start wearing purple on August 31st and continue through September to first represent the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) Day August 31st and then to advocate for those who are working on recovery from substance abuse. I invite you to join me on the 31st for the 7 pm gathering in the Square in Hagerstown to remember those lost to opioid overdoses.
This will be my third year to stand in the crowd to weep and pray for those who have died. Each year the crowd grows. I am not sure if that is due to the number of deaths or rather the message is making its way to the people who may feel shame, loneliness, or heart-breaking grief that someone they loved could not stop and now see they are not alone. For me it is a night of hope as I wonder who will hear story after story of someone unsuspectingly getting hooked or how they tried to quit, and then see the tears of what it means to have lost them. Finding help to overcome the disease is so difficult.
I have addressed the issue of addiction or better said, substance abuse disorder, over the years. The goal of wearing purple is to show solidarity for folks marginalized by the stigma with that disease. Washington County Goes Purple is all through September. I ask you to wear purple as you are able during next month to lessen the stigma for folks coming out of the shadows to find help. When we call people addicts, druggies, crack heads, and the like, we forget a portion of our baptismal covenant. Our neighbors need to be seen and acknowledged as children of God. No one wakes up in the morning deciding to become an opioid abuser. Let us share God’s love for all of God’s children and walk with them as able. Christ’s peace to us all.