Relieved by the end of my first round of midterms, I open the web browser, instinctively navigating to the CNN homepage. There it is: a painful, daunting headline. Come on, this can’t be happening. Please tell me it isn’t true, but I guess disappointment is my forte.
Powerless. Perplexed. Disgusted. I cannot even imagine a fourteen year old being capable of carrying out such a heinous act. Isn’t this the age to play tag in the grass, to chase after the ice cream truck, and to watch cartoons on TV?
I recall a quote from The Kite Runner, where Rahim Khan tells Amir’s father, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” But here, just the opposite is occurring. Even innocent children are being exploited. Corruption, abomination, and hostility are taking over society.
Nazim Hikmet, a famous Turkish poet writes:
You fight today, you fight today
So that the children of this world
Can live and grow and laugh and play
How can the children of this world “laugh and play” when their lives are being injected with lethal ideologies?
For me, this is a wake-up call. Amid my growing interest in the Egyptian protests, the internal problems of Pakistan completely slipped my mind. I became distracted. Although the media has shifted its interests, crises elsewhere have not ended. How long did it take for Mubarak’s oppression of Egyptians to make it to the headlines? How long did it take for the conflict in Burundi and Rwanda to develop before it got any media attention?
We must remember that these are not spontaneous occurrences. Their roots lie somewhere else, pre-dating the recent frenzy of the global media. I am by no means saying that the media’s influence is bad, but rather, WE have become distracted.
Let us not forget that the destruction caused by the Haitian earthquake has not been accounted for, refugee tents in Pakistan have not been emptied, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ongoing, and the region of Darfur still remains a major humanitarian crisis.
Sami Yusuf, in his song “Make a Prayer”, expresses this beautifully:
We claim to love peace and justice
Why do we preach what we don’t practice?
Just because we don’t see certain issues covered on the front page of the New York Times, or in the headlines of CNN and BBC, we cannot assume that they have been resolved. So next time you pick up a newspaper or magazine, look beyond the front page, because it only takes that one headline to awaken us from our distractions.