This Ugly World

Have you ever felt so upset that the world suddenly starts spinning right before your eyes? Have you ever been shocked to the extent that you don’t even feel the tears streaming on your face? Have you ever been so angered and saddened at the same time that you think your mind is blowing up into bits? Have you ever felt so burdened by sorrow that you heart weighs very heavily in your chest?

Turning 18 hasn’t made things any easier. Legally, I am an adult now and I guess I should be happy to be able to venture into the world independently. Yet, why is it that all I wish to do is stay close to my family and cower in my room, as if wanting to be shielded from this world. But, who am I kidding? This is the world I am growing up in and in which I will grow up, whether I like it or not. Sometimes, some facts can just be too hard to accept.

Tomorrow, the world will be remembering those who died two years ago, on September, the 11th. I know that when I will turn the television on, I will be shown the footage of the planes striking the twin towers, repeatedly. I will see Bush and Blair treading on this very ground that we all walk on, but they will be swollen with pride and their minds will be high above the clouds in vanity, in an effort to block out the cries of the children they maim and the pleas of anguish of the women they destroy. I will see the West standing in silence in respect for their values of ‘democracy, liberty and freedom’ that are supposedly attacked by the Muslims, while I, as a Muslim, know that I don’t want their version of such principles that they wish to impose on us, as Paul Bremer advised. I will see Muslims and Arabs sleeping in the face of such severe attacks on us and our religion; whether they do so out of shame or fear or indifference, I prefer not to prejudge. I will see tanks and soldiers on the soil of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, and helicopters in their skies, waging a war on ‘terror’, whilst gunning down blameless children, men and women, and ravaging God’s earth with apathy; and, in spite of all this, they will be hailed in the West as heroes and defenders of modern civilization.

What I will not see, though, is a thorough investigation of what took place on 9/11/01, nor will I be shown any reports accurately studying why America is hated by many. Shifting from channel to channel, I won’t find considerable pictures of innocent victims of the campaigns of USA and her so-called ‘coalition’, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and Africa, and neither will there be anyone apologizing or being held accountable for the massacres they have helped inflict. And, I’m quite certain that it would most probably be silly to expect all Muslims to stand up for their rights and defend their religion courageously. I will not be told of the stories of the countless around the globe, suffering directly or indirectly because of the world’s superpower, nor will I be offered a glimpse into their sorrowful lives.

Sometimes, I think that I just worry too much about this world; you know, forget it. So what if there’s some Iraqi child crying day and night because after his house was bombed, he can’t find his mom or dad. What does it matter to me if some Kashmiri woman hides herself in her house, believing that those horrible men raping her is her fault. So what if there is a Chechen man physically and mentally scarred by his treatment in concentration camps. Who cares if there is an Afghan man brutally beaten and tortured by people accusing him falsely, who are backed by those who claim to defend human rights. Why should I be bothered if a Palestinian family which has no source of income is awoken at night and its house razed to the ground by bulldozers. So what if an African girl is dying of hunger and is forced to drink utterly filthy water out of dire thirst. What does it matter to me, right? After all, it’s not me in their shoes. I’m living happily and that’s all that is important. Some people are just destined to live like that; of course, thank God I’m not.

But, what if I was? What if, God forbid, anyone of us was suffering like that? What would we do? Wouldn’t we curse those who did that to us? Wouldn’t we badmouth those who never bothered to help us? Wouldn’t we take up any sort of means of resistance to avenge the brutality done to us? Think about it. What if it was me, my mom, my brother or my daughter who was in pain or even murdered? How would my reaction be? This is something we all wish to avoid reflecting on, but for how long can that continue?

Can anyone just forget all this? Can someone still sit at ease and not exert the least of efforts to do something about it? Indeed, what kind of a human being can just stand by and watch this ugliness continue to grow? What sort of a Muslim can look at these vicious crimes and then simply look away?

As we approach another September 11, we must acknowledge that it is nothing less than hypocrisy to continue to mourn only those who passed away this day two years ago in the US and not just disregard, but heartlessly justify the murder of the other thousands of people spanning the globe. Yet, this is what is manifesting today. Who can stand in front of a brown-skinned Muslim child and tell him that his father’s death is not even nearly worth the life of that white American stockbroker in the World Trade Center? Bush and his cohorts can, and they callously do so, too.

I keep on growing older, but I cannot help but dread what awaits us in the future. Who will be next in America’s line of attack? Who will now be dragged to prisons and illegally held, out of world’s view? Whose people will now be told they will be ‘liberated’ from regimes (that were originally supported by the West) and then are killed, murdered and devastated, with no security or freedom in sight, and then are told that they should be thankful? Whose homes will now be pulled down because they once housed people fighting against occupation by foreign forces? Whose natural resources will be exploited by some powerful elite? How many more compromises on our religion’s fundamentals will we make to please others?

In the midst of all this, Muslims must do some self-reckoning. How about, for a change, we think about what we have done wrong to help bring about this pitiful state of our Ummah? Yes, there will always be those who will oppose us and wish us harm and they are culpable for their transgressions against us. But then, they can’t do anything to us unless we also let them. We are almost as guilty of this condition as the wrongdoers are. It is high time we stand up and admit that. Only then, can we move on.

On the eve of a night which triggered the Project for the New American Century into action, I sit in my home and my mind is as confused as ever. I wonder what I can do to make this ugly world a better place. But then I remember – I’m a proud Muslim, unfortunately so for many in the West. Should that be where I need to start?