I wish I could say we lived in a world where this was a reality in our everyday lives, despite it being the truth, we do not allow ourselves to live in a world where it is an acted upon reality. It's the same way with climate change, with sexism and a million other things. They are real, and yet when it comes down to it they are not, not in the areas that really matter.
I'm not going to talk about All lives Matter as a retort to Black Lives Matter, as if being unjust is not enough and above it we must squander any hope of a reality where we all matter. I want to talk about something else today, something that scares me as much if not more so than the retort to Black Lives Matter. With Black lives I've always expected backlash, I was a part of that backlash years ago, and I know it almost as well as I know myself. But what I want to talk about today is something that scares me because it's bothered me for years but I couldn't pinpoint what it was.
I started pinpointing it a few weeks ago, and during a presentation I pointed it out as it is, but last night as I read about the murder of the two Muslim American's in San Jose I was filled with rage, and then fear. The first time I noticed it was with Waleed Abushaban, the twelve year old student that was told that he shouldn't laugh because he's a terrorist, down in Texas. I read multiple articles for that case, and in every single paper it was mentioned repeatedly that this kid was 'non-violent,' that he was an honor roll student, and had never acted out. At the time I was supporting an organization by going with them to schools and talking to teachers and administrators about Islamophobia. And for the first time I put it together. Every single one of those articles, in their attempt to raise awareness about something that should never have happened, with the best of intentions, were actually trying to prove this kids humanity. He was 12. Twelve! So we can say that Islamophobia does not exist, but when you're justifying a twelve year olds existence then we've already lost.
Today, as I read about the murdered couple, I saw the same thing. They were described as "simple, and gentle."
The problem isn't that these things aren't true, because they definitely are, as far as I know. I'm sure the twelve year old is not a terrorist, and the couple weren't either, despite them being Muslim. The problem is that we've learned to justify death, as if it's entirely accepted for individuals that act out from time to time, that might deal with addiction, or mental illness, or mess up once in a while, to die and be killed, and be oppressed in every shape or form. We have learned to denounce injustice by justifying that its victims are not deserving of it, as if anyone deserves this or any kind of injustice.
If I am ever killed, I ask that you don't justify my existence with my good character, or justify my murder with my mistakes. I am an individual, I deserve to not be killed in my home. I deserve more than to be called a terrorist. I deserve more than to deserve to live and be treated justly because I am gentle, and nonviolent. If that twelve year old had acted out, or wasn't an honor roll student would we have raised our voices as much? Would I have heard of him across the country?
I'm scared of the answer. And I'm scared of asking myself if I have bought into this. Am I also conditioned to justify murder? If the worst person on earth, died in the worst of ways would I smile with everyone else? Injustice is injustice, regardless of the perpetrator and the victim. If nothing else, our frenzy to justify innocence for certain groups of people clearly says that All Lives Do Not Matter.
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Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder and Director of Mental Health for MCL, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events.