Flex Your Head: Looking at the Bigger Picture

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Amid a time where many seemed to have lost sight of treating their neighbor like themselves,
Replacing it with suspicion and paranoia because of their skin tone,
Or their religion or the way they speak,
Some raise their voices for patience and sanity,
For a recognition that the occurrence of tragedy and loss is not uniquely theirs – they call for the world to maintain perspective and remember that we are all bound to each other.

In the past few days since the Boston bombings I have seen both the best and the worst in my fellow Americans. The myriad of social media platforms became an arena for individuals of various political, spiritual, and regional backgrounds to duke it out over who is to blame or not and attempt fear mongering. Much of this echoes the aftermath of September 11, 2001 where there was extensive anti-Muslim language and physical violence being used across the United States. For example, conservative and Islamophobe favorite, Erik Rush, took to Twitter within a few hours to place the blame on Muslims for the Boston event without citing much in the way of evidence – who needs that anyways, right? Or check out the New York Post’s announcement that a Saudi national had been held at the hospital for questioning and whose apartment was searched. I could go on and on with similar examples of poor investigative journalism being thrown into an already anxious nation’s media landscape, but I digress.

There are some signs of humanity shining through this mess and concrete improvements from twelve years ago. Foremost, I have seen a lot more individuals calling for rationality and not making blind conjectures in trying to determine who was behind this tragedy, including President Obama, major news outlets, law enforcement officials, and perhaps most importantly, regular citizens. People have taken to social media to combat bigotry and bring perspective to this event, which brings me to my second glimmer of hope. Whereas before I don’t recall as many people recognizing publicly that bombings like this one are unfortunate realities for many populations outside of the US, such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Nigeria, the list goes on, I have seen people in the past days call attention to the universality of violence. Sure, talking about something does not translate to definitive action, but it is a start and an important step in raising awareness. Additionally, there has been greater public discussion around the terminology used with situations like this one and, specifically how subjective we are in labeling those that perpetuate violence against other parts of creation.

What all this will mean a few months or years out is yet to be seen. I hope that the humanity being shown currently and outpouring of charity continues and fuels a resurgence of helping each other and the driving out of hate. Salaams for now.

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