Wednesday, June 10

Safe

The ugliest thing in the world is hatred. Hatred is evil and only destroys. What happened today at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. is one of many recent reminders of these facts. I hope people celebrate the heroism of the security guards who selflessly stood up for what is right and protected hundreds of innocent people rather than focus on learning about the life a racist man has led.

Watching the coverage on cable news, I heard one thing that I wish received more attention: Chris Matthews ("Hardball" on MSNBC) pointed out that it is obscenely easy for anyone to own a gun in this country. Why is that? I've heard defense of Second Amendment Rights countless times growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where hunting is a strong tradition that runs in the region and culture. But when it also provides a means for innocent people to be murdered, a line must be drawn. I can't understand how we expect law enforcement to be effective when gun laws are so porous.

I bring this up because many pundits are viewing the killing of a doctor who performed abortions, an army recruiter going to speak at a local recruitment office, and this museum incident happening all within days of each other as indicators of alarmingly violent times. Some have even tied Obama's election--"the election of the first Black man to the office of the President of the United States"--as some kind of factor in the events. While the Department of Homeland Security's recent publication cautioning that extremists from the fringe-Right of the political spectrum may be more likely to act during these times (for which some have had to apologize?) and talking heads from both ends of the spectrum take advantage of ratings opportunities, I must admit that today I felt a bit shaken by what I'm seeing.

When the Virginia Tech shootings had taken place, I remember being really scared. As a college student living on campus and my family being in another state, like even those Virginia Tech students moments before the shooting, the last thing on my mind was "Am I safe?" You never think someone could actually want to hurt innocent people--that they would actually do it. But it happened, and it wasn't the first time nor the last, unfortunately.

Since then, I guess I readjusted to taking the security we enjoy in this country for granted. Yes, we all know there are rapists and serial killers "out there," but we figure we're avoiding them somehow by not walking alone or around dark alleys. As if having a cell phone on us makes our world invincible.

The talk of a growing atmosphere of volatility and increase in violent acts I heard today on the news was really disturbing. On multiple networks, references to the 1960's and the violence and struggles that generation survived were made. I hope I'm wrong in thinking along these lines, but does this mean that an Obama Presidency is now being diminished into a time that will be read about in middle school social studies books as years of social strife, racial tension and violence? I pray that this is not the case, for many reasons. We, as a country, have to get out of the "black president" box. Wasn't the whole point of electing a person based on ideas and character so that we show that we can value a person judging his/her ideas and characters only? The opportunities we have before us as a nation and as a world are incredible and unprecedented. We have so many challenges that have permeated our global culture--economic, social, political, environmental--and with each challenge we have the opportunity to make progress and heal.

I'm 23 years old now and embrace an optimistic outlook on what is to come for our world. Bad things have always been there, before any of today's nations existed. Malice, envy, ill-intent are not new to humanity. And neither is the goodness of the human soul. And I do believe that all humans are capable of good. I have to believe it, because not doing so is embracing the alternative, and I just don't care to harbor such a negative weight inside of my heart. Life is so short, and there are so many opportunities to explore the good things, to learn about people's strengths, to watch beauty happen everyday.

As I go to bed tonight, I know that there is little I can do to influence whether these next few years will turn out to be as chaotic and violent as the `60's. There is little I can do to stop someone willing to kill. But I take comfort in knowing that there are good people in the world who share my desire for a peaceful Earth, and who would give their lives in defending this belief.

May Allah Help those who seek to do what is good, what is just, and what is merciful, and may He Ease their journeys. Indeed we came by Him, and indeed to Him is our return (inna Lillahi wa inna Ilayhi raaji'oon). Ameen.

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