Senseless? Barbaric? Mass-murder? What do you call it when gunmen systematically kill children? Those words don’t do it justice. Nothing can.
In the last day, there have been many words, many conversations, and many statements made about the mass-shooting of over 100 children in a Peshawar school, with the Pakistani Taliban taking responsibility. I started noticing in these conversations that when we attempt to process things, especially circumstances that are so jarring, or discordant with the rest of life, we tend to make comparisons. One of our first instincts is to try to make “sense” of it. I know I do it all the time. In one conversation, a classmate pointed out that unlike Sandy Creek, which is an issue of its own, this was done by an organization that claimed responsibility, so that made it even more disturbing. Another sent out an email trying to encourage solidarity among the various nationalities in school by saying that “we live in painful times of ISIS, Boko Haram, Ferguson and Taliban. Let us do all we can to show our solidarity” – but that somehow got turned into a conversation about the fact that there is a difference between what happened in Peshawar and what the US police do, what each of these groups of people, within their particular countries, really stands for, etc.
If I step back, I can see that there are different sensibilities, different senses of loyalty to different groups of people…among all of us. I can see how certain statements may offend one group of people or another. But I sometimes think that that very urge, instinct even, to make these comparisons – is maybe something we should examine a bit more. It’s human to try to make sense of insensible things. To try to look to the past to explain the present. To try to look to other events occurring in the world to explain this one. Everything happens within a context – which I do believe, to some extent. It’s human, even, to draw lines, to think about “us” and “them.”
But I wanted to ask a question. When we start doing that, especially in light of such a horrific event – are we maybe detracting from the very sense of humanity that we need to band together? Are the relentless divisions, comparisons and contrasts…are they, to some extent, preventing the larger solidarity – the very kind that makes us all into only an “us”, the one that we all should feel toward each other “just because” we are human – that might have hindered, a long, long time ago, a group of men becoming so removed from their own humanity, that they could be used as tools for this “purpose”? Isn’t it equally disturbing to everyone that this happened in our world?
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re Pakistani, American, Indian, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, Jewish, Spanish, German, Russian. You condemn the killing of children because you’re Human. Right?
I’m American. I’m of Indian descent. My religion is a bit ambiguous at the moment, perhaps Hindu or perhaps somewhat agnostic. I’m a female. I’m a student. I have certain political views. I have a certain socioeconomic status. I speak certain languages. All of those identify me in some way or another, as do many, many other things. But before I acquired many of these identities, before I even knew about them or started to know what else I was associated with because of them, I was a human. I feel in solidarity with the people that have been affected by this horror, but not as any of those things. I’m feeling it as a fellow human being. I really think that at it’s core, that’s the only lens that I need here, isn’t it?