|Photo by Phil Roeder|
Recently I received an honest question from a person who sincerely wants to know and understand. The question was (and I’m paraphrasing): “Why should we care about Palestine?”
If I was to give a one-sentence answer, my answer would be, “It’s not about Palestine. It’s about humanity.” But of course, that answer is simplistic and requires further explanation to avoid any misunderstanding. So I will expand on my answer further.
What goes on in a lot of people’s minds (I think) when the issue of Palestine is being addressed is that it is, exclusively, a Muslim issue. Yes, in part, it is. Palestine is dear to the hearts of Muslims and one of the reasons why is because of Masjidil Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Mosque). Masjidil Aqsa is one of three most treasured mosques in Islam, along with Masjidil Haram (The Sacred Mosque in Mecca) and Masjid an-Nabawi (The Prophet’s Mosque in Medina).
But in the grand scheme of things, it is a human issue. Hence it should be a concern in the minds of all human beings, worthy of that name.
Muslim or not, I believe we at least share one rule: “Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.” We collectively called this The Golden Rule. This rule exists in almost every major religions in the world and even if one’s an atheist, it should still be in one’s ethical and moral code.
At the essence of this rule is wanting for others what we want for ourselves.
Who among us would want someone to barge into our home and kill our family members while they’re sleeping? Who among us would want our children to live in fear 24/7? Who among us would want to see our beloved leaves home walking but returns home on a stretcher? Who among us would want to witness our women being raped in front of our eyes?
Some might think that the things I mentioned above only exist in movies. But there are people who are experiencing those things in real life as we speak.
I don’t think anyone of sound mind would want any of those things happen to him/her. If we live by The Golden Rule, we shouldn’t sit idly while knowing that those horrible things are happening to anyone else – no matter what race, religion, culture, or country that “anyone” is from.
I am not suggesting that we should all lose sleep over this; indeed we have our own responsibilities to ourselves and to our families. But we shouldn’t neglect our responsibilities to others. Every human being has a right over us. At the very core of it, every human being has a right to be recognized and to be treated as a dignified human being.
We should honour that right.
We should care for our fellow humans, especially since we are closer today then we were before. With the advent of technology and the Internet, nobody is out of reach. You can sit in your home and still be aware of what’s happening in the far reaches of the world. The borderless world we live in today means that we are all neighbours. We are all a stone’s throw away from each other.
We all share the same planet. This planet is like one big ship. If there’s a hole in one area of the ship and water is pouring in, shouldn’t that be a concern to all members of the ship? I don’t think we would say, “Hey, that’s your problem. Not mine.”
We shouldn’t think of Palestine as a country far far away that has nothing to do with us. In fact, we shouldn’t think that way about any country. If the same thing that’s happening in Palestine was to happen to any other country in the world (US, Canada, UK, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, China, etc.), we should care just as much.
We care about the hurricane victims in US.
We care about the earthquake victims in Japan.
We care about the famine victims in Somalia.
We care about the killings in Burma, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine.
We care about genocides (Holocaust, Rwanda, other places).
We care about the digital dumping ground in Ghana.
We care about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
We should care about all people and we should show that we care. How do we show that we care? Know about them, tell people about them, help them if you can, and remember them in your prayers.
We want for others what we want for ourselves; this is the essence of compassion. Compassion is what makes us human.
Without it, what are we?