Heartbroken, hurt, horrified and helpless. These are just some of the adjectives that I could use to describe how I felt when I turned on the TV later this afternoon. I’m sure the same applies to all of you. Today it was Paris. Yesterday it was the Paris of the Middle East, Beirut. Every day, it is Syria and Iraq. Two weeks ago it was a Russian jetliner. The list goes on and on. The world has tried action. The world has also tried inaction. Afghanistan failed. Iraq failed. Libya failed. Egypt failed. Yemen is failing. Our leaders have failed us. It is easy to point fingers. It is easy to cast blame. Come Monday morning, we will all return to our regular routine. Paris will eventually become yesterday’s news. Unfortunately, we are all useless. Am I thinking out loud? Perhaps. You will hear people cast blame tomorrow. Some will blame Bush for entering Iraq. Some will blame Obama for exiting Iraq. Some will accuse Islam of preaching violence. Some will use Paris as a pretext to reject refugees. Most will be quiet. Most will be silent. Unfortunately almost all of us will be useless. Myself included.
I was born and raised a devout Christian in Jordan. I am not sure why I’m mentioning this, but I suppose it lends my argument a certain level of credibility. What a sad reality, but let us not digress. I am a proud Jordanian Canadian of Palestinian descent.
I am very self-conscious of my behavior. Why? The answer is simple. Every single day I try to erase people’s misconceptions about where I come from and all the negative baggage that comes along with it. I come from Jordan and I come from Palestine. But I happen to be a Christian. Why? My parents were Christian and their parents before that. Among the people I grew up with, I was not an anomaly. We all shared the same values. However, from the outside looking in, I am a statistical outlier. If you were born in Jordan, you had less than a 1.5% chance to have my background. I could have very easily been born a Muslim, but I was not. I have never been denounced, disadvantaged, victimized or insulted for my faith. I grew up surrounded by Muslims. My best friends are Muslim. My brothers and sisters are Muslim. My teachers were mostly Muslim. Many were very devout, others less so. None were radical. None were extremist and certainly none were jihadist. None are capable of the scenes you witnessed today on TV. None are capable of the scenes that you didn’t witness yesterday on TV, or the day before that, or the one before that.
ISIS, Al Qaeda and Boka Haram are some of the worst evils the world has seen since Hitler. Their cruelty is medieval, their violence is unprecedented. Their victims are EVERYONE. On November 9th, Jordan mourned 10 years since Al Qaeda rocked my beloved home with a trifecta of coordinated terrorist attacks, which included a wedding party gathering. These groups are not Muslim. They are vigilantes, outlaws, thugs, rapists and killers, but they are not Muslim, even if they pretend to be. They are anything but peaceful. These groups bomb our churches, but they also burn our mosques. These groups are indiscriminate with their violence. They wage their wars against Christians, Muslims, Jews and Atheists. Am I useless? Yes. Do I feel helpless? Absolutely. Am I in shock every single day? You bet.
Two days ago we remembered the veterans who risked their lives to bring an end to the war. At the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11 month, we stood in silence remembering and acknowledging the sacrifices made by the brave soldiers who fought for freedom, most of us had donned a poppy to mark the occasion. Lest we forget that it was unity and alliance that brought an end to the war. It will only be unity and alliance that will bring an end to this new form of evil spreading around our world. ISIS is a cancer that needs to be removed. It will require the US, the Russians, the Muslim and Arab world, as well as NATO to come together and fight. It’s been admirable seeing the Kurds put up a fight, but that falls far short of what needs to be done. Will anything happen? Who knows. Am I naive? Probably. But while we remember those who have fallen in the tragic events of the last few weeks, and with the bloodshed of Paris and Beirut still very vivid in our memories, I am useless but I beg that you take this opportunity to come together. Let these tragedies not go in vain. May all their souls Rest in Peace.