Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, Baghdad & Birmingham

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Boston, Baghdad & Birmingham
Shakeel Syed – April 16, 2013

Instead of feasting their feat, innocent men and women of all ages were limping and crying. In a matter of seconds, Boston became Baghdad on the tax day. Bodies, blood and broken limbs were on the streets of Boston and on the television screens of the nation. Everyone I knew, all faiths and ages, confessed that they watched the terror and tragedy through teary eyes. Intuitively human indeed, I said to myself.

I too raised my trembling hands and prayed for the perished and the survivors. I prayed more for the survivors, because they now have to live with the trauma. The perished will be in paradise, anyway. My faith tradition suggests that the death of an innocent in this world merits the best of God’s grace in the life hereafter. And I fervently pray for the perished of the Boston bomb blasts to receive the best of heaven.

As we mourn, we must also reaffirm that senseless violence and terror that subjects life to death (anywhere and by anyone) is always abhorrent. Period. Whether bombs go off in Boston or fall in Baghdad, our respect for life must always remain unconditional. 

If questioned about the comparison of Boston to Baghdad as “untimely and unwise,” I would reply it is not only timely but also wise to question the moral and ethical disparities while being in the very midst of it. That is precisely what we learn from the writings of a modern prophet who was jailed in Birmingham in 1963.

Although Sixty years later, King’s prophetic words seem to have been written also for us and for today. Here are few of his words for our reflection.

“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Closing his thoughtful “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King leaves us with this … 

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

I say Amen to the prayer of King and add mine to his. I pray that all people, may they be Bostonians or Baghdadis live in love-drenched communities and free from fear of the other!