What Interfaith Leaders Can Do to Help Boston (and the World)

Although I usually don’t post on the weekends, I feel as though with the recent current events it is my duty to contribute to this one corner of the internet which is mine about what is going on right now. If my post makes even one person think differently, feel something different, or do something different than that makes this whole post more than worth it.

I, like many people in my country and in the world, am filled with so much emotion. There is the feeling of loss, feeling of anger towards the bombers, feelings of disgust towards all of the hate, and honestly a sense of fear for the future. How exactly does one cope with so many emotions in such a volatile time?

By making a difference.

Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, posted a video regarding the Boston Massacre and inspiring interfaith leaders to take action:

“These young people didn’t represent anyone… The murderers of all traditions belong to one tradition: the tradition of murders. We need interfaith leaders to say that loud and clear.”

The brutal and unsolicited discrimination that is now happening in this country because of the Boston bombing is what should be our main concern right now. Many people who preach hate and intolerance, especially towards Muslims, are using this as a way to convince people of their unjust cause. But how is responding to an act of hatred with more hatred going to solve anything? How is hurting other innocent people based on the color of their skin or the religion they belong to going to solve anything?

It’s simple: It won’t.

Omid Safi’s post 10 Essential Points about the Boston bombers, Islam, and America puts a lot of this into perspective. I highly suggest taking a look at the piece, it really put a lot of things into perspective for me. Reading the piece really solidified for me how discrimination is a huge problem in this tragedy. Cited  are some instances of outward physical violence towards people purely because of the color of their skin and religion. Why is this ok? When a white middle aged man went and killed innocent people in a Sikh temple this past summer  white men were not afraid to leave their houses for fear of violence. Why was it different that time?

For many reasons such as the media, misinformation, and fear people seem to have this idea that it is totally acceptable to make a group of people who are different the scapegoat. However responding to violence with violence, no matter how common, is truly a terrible coping mechanism.

So what can we do about it?

Education is key. Educate yourself, educate those who are close to you, even people who aren’t close to you! The more people who know what it means to be Muslim, what the culture of Chechnya is like, and more importantly what it means to treat each other like human beings the better. Preach love and tolerance of our neighbors, not hate and intolerance. We are a great country, a great WORLD, full of  kind people who do great things. Show that to people, remember the good things.

In the words of Gandhi, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Humanity is a beautiful ocean. Be proud of it and share it with everyone.

Note: On April 23rd, 2013 this post was published on IFYC’s blog. See the post here!

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Spotlight: Sami Rahamim

Today I would like to take the time to reflect on a special individual who has used their faith as a support for their activism: Sami Rahamim, a 17 year old Jewish teen from Minnesota. After Sami’s father was killed by a past employee, Sami pursued his passion for activism and spoke out against gun violence in response to his father’s death. The result? Him sitting two seats away from President Obama at a discussion against gun violence in Minnesota.

Sami and his father, Reuven.
Credit: Religion News Service photo courtesy Sami Rahamim

Read the Huffington Post article here.

I personally find this story extremely inspiring! Looking back on my own life, there have been so many times that I have thought to myself, “I am too young to do that,” or even worse, “I am too young to make a difference.” Sami shows that is far from true. At 17 this kid has done more than most people do after graduating college, and the passion behind it all is truly inspiring.

Along with the love of his father, Sami is inspired by his Jewish faith. Like many activists, his faith gives him strength and guidance. I know that for me personally, I can sometimes get so lost in the activism part that I forget the reason why I am doing it. My personal relationship with God can get put to the back burner and suffer because I am not making it the main reason for my work. Sami continues to be a great example, showing us how putting our religion or non religion at the forefront of our activism can lead us to do even more for the world around us.

“One of the things I am working toward is to be known for advocacy, not for the unfortunate circumstance that put me here.”

How different would the world be if we all had that attitude? How different would the world be if we all wanted to be known for what we put into the world rather than what wrongs have happened to us? What if instead of having the negative things in our life be weigh us down, we made them the wind in our sails?

Think of all of the good we could create. Together.