Perhaps – no, I’m certain – that these are the images and these are the stories we need to remember.
Christians joining hands to protect Muslims bowing down in prayer in Tahrir Square in February of 2011 while protests and fighting raged around them. Or in 1941 Sarajevo, when Zejneba Hardaga, a veiled Muslim woman, covered the yellow star on her Jewish friend Rivka Kalb’s left arm as they walked through the streets.
Or today when Australian Rachel Jacob tweeted that a Muslim woman sitting on the train with her removed her hijab to avoid harassment, in wake of an armed gunman storming a café in Martin Place in Sydney, taking hostages and displaying an Islamic flag in the café’s window (the gunman and two others are now dead).
With many Australian Muslims fearing and facing backlash in those tense hours, Rachel ran after the woman and told her to put her hijab back on, that she would walk with her in solidarity to help protect her and give her strength. This sparked an outpouring on Twitter under the hashtag #IllRideWithYou, with many Australians tweeting where they would be riding the bus or train and offering to commute with any Muslim – anyone – scared to be alone.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been overwhelmed: It’s been a very difficult several weeks of hate, disappointment, violence, injustice, sexual assault and any other wrong/bad thing you can think of. Maybe the unrest and evil in the world is no worse now than in years past, and it is our access to hyper-media and second-by-second breaking news via social media that has brought so much to our attention.
In New York, the Justice League NYC along with so many others are shutting down the city with protests and demands for change in wake of a non-indictment for the killing of Eric Garner by the hands of a police officer, who held him in a chokehold. This came barely a week after the non-indictment of another police officer in the contested death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. ISIS continues to wreak terror in Iraq, with a string of beheadings and violent take downs of cities, churches and other religious sites.
As I write this, officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania are seeking a man suspected in the deaths of six people and wounding of another, in what law enforcement officials have said appeared to be a domestic dispute.
I could go on and on. The news cycle moves so very fast, at a frightening pace, really. And yet, around the world people are working and fighting for justice, for peace, for equality, for humanity. Christians are helping Muslims. Muslims are helping Jewish people. Hindus are supporting Muslims, and Atheists are making interfaith connections all over. One can always see the opposite side of story – where so-called Muslims are targeting Christians, where Palestinians and Israelis are in a perpetual cycle of violence, where people of one faith terrorize people of another.
But today, at least today, I want to think of those Australians who tweeted #IllRideWithYou. I hope you think about them too. Hold that in your heart. Teach that to your children.
That is the world I want to raise my children in.