Just before writing this, I sat on my bed briefly, and then lay down, and then sat up again. I was literally dumfounded at how blank my head was on an issue so disturbing. I didn’t know how to start, and so I started by telling how I was unable to start because I didn’t know what to start with, hoping it would help me ease into this narrative. Now I realize it was really because I had so much to say, but not about coffee preferences.
I’ve sometimes imagined, if I was born of another race, would I value other races as well? Or if I was Muslim, would I naturally despise people of other religions or vice versa, just because we didn’t kneel at the same altar? Believe me, they are questions worth asking if we are to truly understand why humans are constantly at loggerheads with each other. We constantly argue that our beliefs and values shape us, and eventually give us a specific personality, maybe even tell us how and who to love, or not. I mean, it is just amazing how much more effort we put into getting at each other’s throats than actually helping each other up. We’ve had it all, from slavery to terrorism, to religious, racial and class divisions, and yet, we haven’t learnt that every time we decide not to show compassion, we reduce the chances of it ever been shown.
I must admit, it is a difficult thing to do, to decide not to throw a stone when there are rocks flying all around you. It very easy to find reasons to retaliate. The hurt from seeing the ones you love become victims of acts of terror and pure disregard for human life, you don’t want to look weak by not replying in same fashion, even though deep down, you know there just might be chances for a peaceful resolution. And so, when we walk into the streets, we take it out on an obviously innocent human, mainly because he closely resembles the terrorist on TV. And so, more than anything, you successfully radicalize that fellow to the point of doing the same thing to someone who closely resembles you. It’s a simple case of reaping what we sow. And on and on we go in the same cycle, not really making the world any better than it previously was, but only satisfying our steaming urge to fight back, and letting the younger generation know that it is quite okay to always shout back when they are shouted at.
Please! I beg of you, put yourself in the shoes of that little kid whose mother got laid off her job just because she had a Hijab on; he’ll most likely grow up trying to prove that wearing a Hijab or having Mohammad as a last name isn’t such a despicable thing, and he might not be so gentle while he’s at it. How about that ex-convict who’s having a very hard time easing back into a society that has branded him “not loveable”? I hope he doesn’t hurt someone else when he’s letting out his frustration on the system and the world.
Hate crimes are everywhere. Gosh! There’s so much hate in the world, because peace is so underrated. We’ve gotten so comfortable with fighting each other that it’s not surprising anymore every time we hear about some death on the news. We just pass it off like, “Oh God, not another one, what’s it going to be next”. I often wish I was some sort of Supreme Being, then maybe I’d be able to make it all go away. But I’m not, and I feel quite helpless every time we try to emphasize our differences rather than accept that before anything else, South African or Sudanese, Asian or Swedish, British or Nigerian, Middle Eastern or Latin American, we’re all human first. History shouldn’t remind us who to segregate and disregard, but why we shouldn’t go down that dark path again, and the senselessness in doing so.
It’s a God-awful fragile world we occupy, and even though we don’t know it, every act of unkindness we show now has a devastating ripple effect on an astronomical scale. If our world has an expiry date, then I think it’s pretty close. What legacy exactly do we intend to leave for not just the younger generation, but the unborn one? I am just one tiny human being in a really big world, but everything undoubtedly starts with me, be it an era of peace or one of division. Martin Luther King had the choice to fight his oppressors the violent way, like Malcolm X often did, but he didn’t, and I know it wasn’t an easy decision. He saw the world differently, he was a peaceful but driven man, and even though he didn’t necessarily live long enough to see it, he inspired a lot of hearts with his peaceful approach. It’s only normal that you get hurt in return if you hit a brick wall in anger. If you gradually reduced the force with which you hit the wall, it would hurt less every time, and when you finally got the logical sense to stop hitting the wall, then you’d have nothing to hurt you anymore.
It all takes patience, and a willingness to let go of generational and historical grievances. It takes a decision to start seeing not religions or races, or even colour, but humans and persons and people. It all goes without saying that “La haine attire la haine”, “hate attracts hate”, because an eye for an eye approach, and we’ll all go blind eventually.