Acts of terror very often dominate the news these days and to be honest I’ve never really been one of those people who gave it much thought. Yes, I would feel sad but I would move on. Not this time. Is it because of what happened in Sydney was too close to home? Is it because a mother of three was one of the victims? Is it because I can finally feel the pain of the parents grieving their innocent children’s death in Peshawar? I don’t know. What I also have very minimal knowledge about is the history of the rise of all these issues. Islamic fundamentalism or whatever. In fact, I don’t care much for it. I’ll tell you why.
When I called my dear friend today to ensure that all her family and friends were safe in Pakistan, she beautifully put into words what has been nagging me from within for ages. She said ‘I wish they would stop calling him (Man Haron Monis) a Muslim man. A true Muslim would never plot to or kill his wife, will never sexually assault women, will never harm. He is not a Muslim man. He is just a criminal.’
My sentiments exactly. We’ve all heard this many times but I’ll say it anyway, because it is the truth. Terrorism is a horrific act that is committed by treacherous criminals. Religion has nothing to do with it despite their persistent claims. The use of religion is rather a trap. A trap set for the rest of us to fall into, to show hatred and in turn indirectly contribute to more acts of evil.
My dear Muslim friends, this is what I have to say to you. I’ll ride with you. Not just on the public transport to make you feel safe but on this journey of life, in creating a better tomorrow for our children. Likewise, I hope you see goodness in me despite my knee length dresses and uncovered head.
I feel helpless today as I read the news. There doesn’t seem to be much that I can do to ease the pain of those who are suffering. However, what I can do is to the best of my ability, teach my daughter to:
See the individual
I am guilty of describing people using their race. That indian woman, this chinese man. I’ll stop doing that. When I do, my daughter will automatically learn to see the person. She will attribute their actions and behaviour to their personality rather than their racial or religious background.
Appreciate the beauty in being different
The beauty of a garden comes from the variety of the flowers it beholds, the butterflies that flutter around, the birds that hum and much more. Similarly, the world is a beautiful place only because it is filled with such different individuals and cultures. I’ll encourage her to marvel at that difference than condemn.
To keep the human spirit alive
Evil will always plague the world but will only triumph when we let empathy perish. I’ll teach my little one that no matter how much horrific things she witnesses, she should never succumb to hatred. That even if she can’t change much, her heart should at least ache when she sees suffering.
To make kindness a way of life
I’ll teach her that while she may not be able to change the world, she can do little things. These little acts of kindness will one day add up and will make a difference.
I can’t change perceptions, can’t eradicate islamophobia, can’t stop all this violence. But I’ll ride with you. I’ll pray with you. I will raise a fine young lady for a better tomorrow and I hope you do too.