April 16, 2013

Dear God, please don't let this be a Muslim

Security officers on site leapt to the aid of those injured
Dear America,

You're smarting from a great tragedy. A terrible, terrible event happened in Boston. A joyous occasion was brutally crucified to make way for pain, blood and agony. Innocents were hurt. Innocents perished. The cowards who did this did not have the guts to own up to it. They deserve to rot in an open square with people ogling at them, taking cognizance of the abomination that these barbarians are.

As news reeled in off those who were killed, and those who were injured one prayer leapt to my lips:

Please dear God, don't let this be a Muslim. Don't let this be a Pakistani. Please dear God. Don't let this be.

But I see I was late in my prayer. You see a Fox News employee had already sent out a tweet condemning me to death. He also condemned the 1.6 billion other followers of Islam to death by saying "let's kill them all".

When I read that tweet I realized something. I realized how broken we all were. How disoriented, how unattached from one another. We're all humans yet we've demonized each other beyond reproach. To some all brown people appear as worthy of death. To some all white appear as worthy of death. We can't stop ripping each other a new one all the time. In all this madness people like me, those trying to keep sane amidst the insanity are crushed brutally.

Today I thought back to Pakistan. I thought about the 20 or so people who die there everyday. Then i came across this Facebook status from a friend:

Watching all the media about the Boston bombings, can't help but wonder if this is how the people of Pakistan feel all the time

So I wondered do we feel this way all the time? When a drone fires a Hellfire and kills innocent school children. When the terrorists bomb a market. When sectarian groups engage in systematically wiping out those who are opposed to them. Doesn't our heart weep when we hear about how another bystander was lost? About how a kid lost his parents? About how that poor woman lost her legs? What do we feel if not but pain? What do we do if not cry tears of blood day in and day out, over and over again?

My thoughts went out to the 50,000 innocent Pakistani lives lost in this craze. And then I realized how emotionally detached I was from my own people's suffering. The Boston Marathon explosions had left me shaking, but the 20 people who die in Pakistan everyday simply does not affect me at all. I was ashamed of myself. I was so very ashamed of my insensitivity. Did I think an American life was worth more than the life of my fallen Pakistani fellow? Did the Pakistani life just equal a nameless statistic forever confined to the annals of history to be used in pie charts, or bar charts to explain the year on year increase in casualties?

And then I realized, my desensitization was a defense mechanism.

If we Pakistanis started to give a shit about all those we lose every single day, we would go insane

I feel the same pain, but I refuse to acknowledge its existence. Because acknowledging its existence would mean I have to deal with it, and I can't. None of us can. It's easier to ignore and carry on than to deal with the great tragedy that takes place day in and day out.

Dear America the pain you feel today, I have felt for 11 years now. Every single day like a searing white hot pin piercing my heart. Dear America, when you accuse us of being responsible for all the ills plaguing the world we look at each other, we look at the 50,000 graves we have dug and we weep for the men, women and children we buried who can find no peace even in death. Dear America we die everyday only to find a thankless world tell us we're rogue terrorists who deserve to be locked up and wiped off the face of the earth. Our children's cries do not equal the cries of your children; the weight of our dead bodies does not equal the weight of your dead bodies. Our sacrifices do not exist, because you never see them. Our efforts go in vain because we've been demonized so much.

Dear America we've been so traumatized that now we are scared of saying we're Muslims, we're ashamed of our brownness and we feel deeply uncomfortable and guilty for belonging to the countries which you largely equate with the devil's personal backyard.

Dear America what you feel today is what millions of people living in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have felt for many years now. I do not even for an instant suggest that you forgive those who have threatened you. I just request that when you send out a prayer for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions that you remember the 37 Iraqis who were killed yesterday. I request you send out a quiet prayer for the 30 guests at a wedding which was "accidentally" bombed by a US bomber in Afghanistan. I request that you send out a quiet prayer for the 50,000 innocent men, women and children who have paid the ultimate price for a war that they were thrust in for no fault of their own except for having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dear America you see what it has come to now? You see how terrorized, demonized and scared we feel?

Dear God, please, don't let this be a Muslim.