There’s a word for what happens when one group of people sees another as less than human and insists on its right to hurt and humiliate them for fun. It’s an everyday word that is often misused to refer to something outside of ourselves. The word is ‘evil’.” Laurie Penny
I arrived in the country of Oman one day ago for a short vacation. Right now I am sitting in a small slice of heaven on earth. I am surrounded by incredible beauty – palm trees and blue sky are above me and a pristine beach surrounded by a slate-blue sea is in front of me.
Waves from an infinity pool splash behind me and there is just a touch of a breeze, enough to create a perfect 78 degrees.
The ocean is far below me, down some steep steps. It’s a small lagoon surrounded by craggy rocks. Palm trees are scattered across the landscape. There are no flies, no ants, no bugs of any sort. It is as near perfect as life on this earth will ever get.
I am sickeningly aware of the sharp contrast between this landscape and that of the carnage in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a community is grieving after being targeted in a terrorist attack. They were targeted as being unworthy to live. Because that’s essentially what terrorists do – they decide that a group of people are not worthy to live. True, they have their own skewed ideology that tells them this is okay, but that doesn’t make it any less evil. And that’s what it is. Evil. They destroy life, deciding to eliminate that which God created and called “good”.
I spend all day every day with Muslims. They are my colleagues, my friends, my cultural brokers, my students, my community in Kurdistan. Five times a day the Call to Prayer goes off at this mosque behind our apartment. Five times a day I’m reminded of my own faith because of the faith of others.
And so I am deeply saddened by what happened in New Zealand.
If you are as well, challenge yourself to reach out to those who don’t look like you, believe like you, think like you, and behave like you.
Ask a Muslim co-worker how they are doing.
Find out if there is a mosque in your area and call them, expressing your sorrow over what happened in New Zealand.
Call out evil when you see it. Commit to kindness and giving others a chance. Embrace beauty, create beauty, look for the beauty in others.
Communicate across boundaries. It’s not easy, but it will change you and challenge you. You will be better for it.
It’s not enough to write a meme or cover your social media profile with a statement. We must do more.
And remember, evil won’t win.