Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Face of Terror

While I was about to post my entry for July, news of a bomb exploding in the middle of Oslo, Norway caught my attention. The images that poured in brought back memories from 1995 when Oklahoma City met such a fate that claimed 168 lives, which included 19 children under the age of 6. I began to dread the reports filtering in. Having visited Oslo a few years ago, I could not bare to think that an act of this nature could occur in a country so homogeneous and peaceful. Like everyone, to my utter horror I soon realized that while the Oslo bombing was catastrophic, it was not all. There was more savagery unfolding on the island of Utoeya. Young boys and girls were being gunned down by a man who had gone mad. By the time it was over 76 people were dead. A delusional fantasist who thought he was changing the world had stopped shooting for reasons that are yet to be known.

Like all events of this nature, the 9/11 attack on Manhattan, the indiscriminate terrorist attacks on Bombay, the Oklahoma City explosion, the shooting of US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Virgina Tech massacre, they all stir us at our core as the insanity behind the crime is unfathomable and incomprehensible. Often they are committed out of extreme hatred for something, that is driven by a warped ideology that justifies the action. These crimes are most often carried out by young men who somehow stray and find themselves on the fringe of society, alone, devoid of love and messed up.

As we struggle to understand the "why" and the "how", instead of scrutinizing more about yet another somber moment in our lives, I would like to share a NPR interview that stirred me. This interview poignantly summed up what hatred can do, when it blinds us from our humanity. This is a remarkable story of a man who survived an attack on his life in Dallas, Texas after a stranger went on a rampage soon after the 9/11 attacks. Bangladeshi-born Rais Bhuyian was shot and blinded by a young American named Mark Stroman. Stroman killed 2 others on his 'anti-Arab' rampage that day. Rais went on to forgive Stroman, and even campaigned to have his death sentence commuted to life. Stroman was executed on July 20, 2011.

Listening to Rais on the radio was moving and uplifting. It said something about the human spirit that lies within all of us. When, how and whether we chose to act on it in the face of adversity, is what being human is all about. It is what it is.

Click here to see the NPR report.