“We Are All Human”

I’ve been thinking about New Zealand along with the rest of us since Friday morning.

Yesterday evening I was sitting in a coffee shop that is a frequent meeting place for a group of Somali men. I go there often enough to recognize their faces and exchange pleasantries. Last night was different. They along with a community of their family, friends, colleagues had to endure the tragedy of a mass shooting in New Zealand where 50 (current count) people of Muslim faith where gunned down in senseless violence by a white terrorist. The killer carried with him a manifesto that attributed the influence of our current POTUS and his remarks toward the Muslim faith. The dead are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, grandparents, elders, friends … the list goes on and ought to sound familiar to everyone. They are people, like you and me.

I am a high school English teacher. Earlier in the day, my students watched a Ted Talk by Suzanne Barakat titled Islamophobia which spoke to the loss of her brother, his wife and their friend in a senseless shooting in North Carolina in 2015. Same situation, different white terrorist, a hate crime against the Muslim faith. Looking at her Facebook page today, I discovered her brother and his wife and friend were killed four years ago on February 10th, 2015. Just over a month ago, and her comment on her page last night after the news of the New Zealand tragedy was very brief, “I can’t. I just can’t.” I have to wonder how frightened or angry or defeated she feels today.

As I left the coffee shop last night, I looked at the men in conversation together and felt compelled to approach them. I told them they were all in my heart, and they thanked me and nodded their heads in understanding. One man looked at me and said, ‘We are all human,” and I shook his hand and he said it again.

We are all just human beings. Is there any other explanation to give people of the Muslim faith, or people of color, or people that are different than ourselves a reason to be respected? One of the messages from Suzanne Barakat is to speak to your neighbors. Even if it feels like a small gesture , she said it will have miles of impact. It is a start, and today, the healing needs to begin.

We are all simply human beings.

Please practice love today.

 


 

Islamophobia – Suzanne Barakat

Why Love Can Speak

We define ourselves by needs

by the operative term of finding freedom,

we might be the one that bleeds

if while in action we lose our kingdom

to the crusader, the challenger, the chilling

antagonist.

We question the rights and our own

wrongs when trying to combine value

upon a selfish agonizing scream unknown

while the world derides the me in you.

Meanwhile the innocent blood is our bleeding

martyr.

While a man determines their right,

question the many that came so long before

just living this way seems today to be a rite

of passage, a sacrifice long ago thought folklore.

Shatter the window to freedom becomes a shouting

anarchist.

We begin our lives in the comfort of loving arms

unbeknownst to our innocence, the living pain

to be endured in the years ahead in subtle charms

meant only to help create a divide without gain.

Everywhere else evocative notions shriek from willing

candidate.

Life is a circle, a flowing line, an endless surface

In terms of morality we might a peace, promise

Her Eyes

burqa

She sits with cold reasoning

trying to believe

knowing everyone around her

disagrees

decides to illicit a remark

cements her current posture.

If I look across the room

I can see she is different,

her burqa wraps her fears inside

eyes with tears imagine fear.

Yet this is all we have,

the only part of her,

she let’s us imagine without definition.

We haven’t thought about

later in the evening,

when unless she might clever distract

herself from the evening news,

unless she can simply sit and stare at a wall,

a blank slate of reality she’d rather never leave,

unless she can ignore the fear she feels

when her reality is a constant scrutiny.

She’ll never be able to laugh out loud

without an earshot ignorance spewing bigotry.

She won’t ride her bicycle in public without

a young child being told not to stare.

~

When I was a young child and discovered someone special,

I was told to look the other way, not asked, simply told.

I thought that rather bold,

when later on in life I realized I was being asked to ignore

another human being for having a soul I hadn’t seen before.

I wonder if they could feel my fear.

I wonder if tears remain the same after all these years.

I wander about without any confidence,

I live with fear, yet, I’ll take it for granted

because I can,

because she can’t I’ll flow my tears

I’ll ask her about her eyes,

I’ll think her lovely today.

I’ll wish her … peace.

Peace!

~

*photo credit: pinterest

 

My Muslim Friends

I’m crying tonight

I don’t want to be a part of this

the confusion is an ignorance I didn’t plan upon,

I wish not to look in your eyes and feel your pain,

I hope for love, that smile of beauty,

the caress of humanity suggest we are a beautiful people together,

not apart, not ostracized, without scrutiny.

When we live together, we breathe together,

we might know difference, yet without tolerance,

without some aspect of love,

remember that peace,

that love piece we seem to let go of when we allow ignorance

to pretend to care.

I want to have compassion, I want to laugh,

I want to hold the hand of my friend,

I want to walk the earth with a sense of freedom

I want to be shunned only by the shunners,

let them create their own solemn hypocrisy,

together we will be free.

We are people who believe in one thing when all else is put aside,

we do know love,

we love

love!

My World A Ruthless Shame

I grew up with certain freedoms,

Though I was never really told,

I only understood a world of fiefdoms

From books I read. I wasn’t bold.

~

My dreams were made with managed

Challenge, the bounty being compassion

Beyond a society of greed is the adage

Spoke a loud in a personal fashion.

~

The limits began when in later life

What we discovered together in name

Became the seedling of confusion’s strife

The sort leaves my eyes seeing shame.

~

We are a world driven by our insanity

If we believe this our lovely reality.

`The Decay of a Day

In a methodical mess of time,

our world has been defined,

by hypocrisy,

or idiocy,

or lunacy,

or whichever descriptive

horror,

travesty,

diminished capacity,

we might choose to operate from.

The ticking of a clock began our morning,

from federal sacrifice to teacher ignorance,

our society believes,

we can will away all the misery,

our inability,

our instability

that bureaucratic dependency,

to do the wrong thing

is alive and twirling

a baton of human sacrifice

across a meddling nation.

We are clueless to the hurtful,

menacing manner maligned

mouthpiece

we often rely upon to

make us laugh with ridicule.

What happens when the laughter

ends, when one doctrine

pitted against another,

believes the lie to be true,

believes in the why we do,

believes their own lie,

to be truth …

Syria.

We Hold the Match

I feel responsible

in the quiet dark corner of my life,

I am the problem,

I carry the matches

to our powder keg we call America.

When I read about the color of your skin,

wonder about your safety,

wish you wouldn’t all be lumped together,

I seldom think about me,

never had to,

ever feel any responsibility beyond feeling lucky.

I am a lucky man,

with a lot of flints in my pockets,

ready to strike with my own personal naivety

Or, am I that clueless,

to imagine I cannot contribute to the melee,

the reality of our times,

in America.

The color of my skin,

offers me privilege,

haven’t had to think about it,

24/7.

I simply go forward,

yet, tonight, as I look at the constant protestations,

that disrupt the lives of our good citizenship,

no matter the color of any one or gathering group’s demeanor.

I am saddened tonight,

with the reality of my responsibility

I need to speak,

more often,

with more fervor,

more adamant,

with more unapologetic passion to suggest,

we are the individuals who need to begin to speak,

rather than rest on our own laurels,

believing we are doing right,

by sitting on our hands.

I cannot, no, will not, no, I simply must begin,

to rip my filtered head and eyes out of the sand.

I need to find the solution to extinguish the fires,

smoldering, in my apathy.

I need to recognize you before I can accept me.