Act #51: Be outraged.
I have a friend who used to be a student worker in the college advancement office where I once worked. He was brilliant, articulate, compassionate and even then, I knew that he would be a game changer someday. He used to tell us about his hometown - he grew up in a bustling city that had a breathtaking 32,000 acre national park, where the locals gathered at annual street festivals and little boys played sports in public parks. On weekends, families would buy fresh fruit and other local foods at the farmer's market.
On Saturday 12 children were killed at that local farmer's market. Little boys and girls, holding their mother's hands were laughing and picking out fresh baked breads one minute, and the next minute, they were violently attacked and left for dead. I remember the sick feeling in my stomach that wouldn't go away for weeks after the Newtown Connecticut shooting that left 20 children dead. I remember the outrage, sense of helplessness that I shared with the rest of the nation, even though I didn't personally know a single person from Newtown. I didn't have any connection to any of the victims, but I mourned with them, imagined myself in their shoes, and was left heart-broken.
Twelve innocent children were killed in my friend's hometown this Saturday. He had to take a break from social media because the faces of those killed began to look familiar to him. Unlike me, he knew those faces. He knew the farmer's market where the bloodshed took place. Yet I didn't lose sleep, nor was I left with that same outrage or sense of helplessness that I had following the shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut. Because I didn't know about the killings. None of my friends that I spoke with shared the outrage. No rallies took place. There was barely any news coverage on the local stations. No churches held vigils for those children. No cards were signed and mailed in mass numbers to grieving families.
You may wonder why you have heard very little (or maybe nothing at all) about the 12 children killed this past weekend. Unlike Sandy Hook, the killer was not a single 20 year old man, but was rather a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden water tank, who rammed the vehicle into buildings at the crowded marketplace. Probably because the killer's name was not Adam, but Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization. Probably because the children in this town didn't play softball and football, but they played cricket. This hometown was not called Newtown, but was called Quetta, Pakistan. And this Saturday, a total of 87 people were killed, including those 12 children.
Looking back at the last few days, I remember seeing something on Cnn's website. I remember seeing my friend's Twitter feed referencing the terrorist act. But I went about my busy week, not even taking a moment to pause and reflect on the innocent lives lost that day. Not even taking a minute to reach out to my friend who was mourning those losses. Not sharing the sense of outrage and helplessness he must have been feeling, solely because the children killed weren't American children and solely because violence in that part of the world has become so frequent, so "expected" that I became used to, even numb to its impact. God help me and the rest of us, if we can become numb and unemotional to the killings of innocent children, no matter where they live in the world. Violence in Pakistan warrants our outrage and shock just as much as violence in Newtown Conneticut. While we can't all fly to Quetta to help survivors, or personally demand an overhaul in governance and in legislation that would make the streets of Quetta safer, there's certainly nothing stopping us from being outraged. From mourning the lives of innocent children, just as we did in Newtown. From speaking up and demanding peace, where children can walk down any street in the world without becoming victims of senseless violence.
I have never been to Quetta or Newtown. But I actually know someone who grew up in Quetta. I have a personal connection to someone who was impacted, who is, right this moment, personally grieving the losses of these senseless deaths. Now I feel outraged. And helpless. That's a start.