#DailyWings: “Walk for those that can’t walk. Run for those who wish they could. Fight for those who can’t fight. Scream for those who wish for a voice. Hope for those who are hopeless. Dream for those who wish they had sight. Love for those who will never know what love is. Love them too. Forgive for those who will never learn to forgive. Forgive them too. Breathe for those who struggle for air. Stand for those who can’t. Believe for the ones who doubt. Live for those that never had a chance to. And never take it for granted.” -Joshua Globa
Today, more than 1,000 bloggers from all over the world are coming together in solidarity to share stories of compassion for “1000 Voices for Compassion,” with the goal of inspiring others to live with open hearts. Compassion isn’t just a passive feeling. It also doesn’t have to be an aggressive action. It’s about listening to what’s not being said, giving room for others to breathe and making moves when we recognize social injustice.
For my #1000Speak contribution, I want to address the Chapel Hill shootings that took place on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. To continue the “1,000 Voices” trend, I will also be sharing a local story about fighting against cancer next week that I think perfectly captures the heart of compassion.
But the stories of compassion by no means don’t stop here. As you browse the news and your favorite blogs today, take a moment to read other #1000Speak stories. Read about other people’s struggles and triumphs, the pieces of broken dreams after they’ve been shattered, the unexpected joys, the sacrifices of second nature, the hand-holding of strangers, the glimmers of hope that we all keep holding onto. Know this: We’re still fighting the good fight.
On the Lives of Deah, Yusor and Razan
I couldn’t quite believe my ears when my co-worker said to our row of cubicles at the office, “There’s a shooting in Chapel Hill right now.”
It was Tuesday, Feb. 10. That night, three Muslim students – two sisters, and one of the sisters’ husbands – were shot in a neighborhood near Meadowmont Village, just two minutes away from my apartment by car. Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha. Deah and Yusor were UNC dental students. Razan was an undergraduate student at NC State. She was 19 years old.
In the wee early morning hours after the shootings, as the media slowly began to pick up on the Chapel Hill shootings story, #MuslimLivesMatter began to trend on Twitter. Fewer than 24 hours after the shooting, Chapel Hill was the leading news story on every major media outlet, including CNN, The Huffington Post and the New York Times. Journalists, bloggers and social justice activists alike have expressed their outrage toward what clearly is a hate crime, one of many in a slew of violent acts against Muslims and members of other marginalized populations.
On the very television screen that faces my work desk every day and on the exact same CNN channel that informed me of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the Ebola massacre just weeks earlier, Chapel Hill’s name filled the headlines. UNC’s Student Union was pictured, along with the faces of our neighbors who were brutally shot by a man who believed violence was the answer.
It’s easy to turn on the TV and see similar news stories and think, “That’s terrible. Thank goodness it’s not happening here.”
But it DOES happen here. It’s happening in our own backyards. These people that we hear about during casual lunch conversations, that are on the media…they aren’t characters. They are real.
When the shooter, Craig Hicks, decided to take away three innocent lives, the lives of people who dedicated themselves to service and compassion every single day, he violated one of the safest, most progressive, most accepting communities I know. Chapel Hill is our home. How could something like this happen?
The night after the #ChapelHillshootings, UNC held a beautiful candlelight vigil in the Pit, UNC’s outdoor public forum and the heart of the university. Thousands of students, faculty, neighbors and community members were there, and yet, the entire Pit remained quiet. Cream-colored tea candles were passed around without a single murmur. There were a thousand voices that did not speak, expressing sorrow and compassion through respectful silence.
Where does light go in a tunnel of darkness?
Even as the tears spilled from my cheeks onto my brown corduroy jacket, I did not know what to feel or how to cope with the shock and devastation that washed over me. Besides the fact that my apartment was close to the scene of the hate crime, I did not have any real connection to the shootings. I didn’t personally know Deah, Razan or Yusor. I am not a member of the global Muslim community, and though I may be a Chinese woman with a disability, I will never know the kind of oppression and hatred Muslims have had to endure because of their religion. What is my role as a mourner? Do I even count?
The silence was finally broken when the opening verses of the Quran were recited out loud. One by one, the victims’ family members approached the podium at the front of the vigil and began to share their memories of Deah, Yusor and Razan. They talked about Deah’s charity efforts to provide dental care for children living in Palestine. They recalled what Razan loved to eat for breakfast. They told the love story of Deah and Yusor, who got married only six weeks before the shooting.
It was there, as we stood mourning in silence and in peace, that I realized there is some good that has come out of all this. Out of all the anger and pain and the shadows cast over our town, there is also inspiration, courage and unity.
Deah, Yusor and Razan did not die in vain. They left a legacy of compassion that will not be forgotten soon. They set an example for what we should all strive to be like as human beings. This was a wake-up call for the entire nation, where discrimination and intolerance are rampant, if not overt. This is us shaking America by the shoulders, yelling enough is enough. This violence and hatred needs to end. This is a reminder for Muslims to know that, despite everything that has happened and the horrible bigots who exist in this world, there are people who stand by them.
Apart from the proximity of my location to the scene of the crime, these shootings have made a deep impact on me as a fighter for equality, social justice and global compassion. The Chapel Hill shooting may not have affected me or my loved ones personally, but it’s affected my heart. My heart goes out to the people who knew Deah, Yusor and Razan. My heart hurts for them, too, and for all the people who have ever been oppressed, ostracized, misunderstood or made to be thought little, weak or not enough. That pain is strong enough for me to continue writing and sharing their stories, to take action in the best way that I know how. What will you do?
It’s not too late! We’d love for you to join us in this blogging initiative to share your story of compassion, whatever it may be. I will be writing another #1000Speak article about a local fight against cancer next week to continue the trend.