The news is breaking my heart. Today, I mourn for Pakistan.
I mourn because the Taliban attacked a school this morning, killing at least 132 children and 9 staff members. It’s a tragedy beyond anything I can imagine. It’s more than five times the lives lost in the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, which happened this week, two years ago. I would guess that many Americans might not relate to this situation as much. After all, Pakistani kids are far away, and their skin color and religion might be different than yours. However, I’d encourage all my American friends to take a moment of silence for those who lost their lives today, and for all Muslims around the world. I can’t imagine the media will be kind.
Just in case you didn’t know, Pakistan is not a country of terrorists. Muslims are caring people who welcome strangers with open arms. In fact, of all the places I’ve traveled, I found Pakistani people to be some of the most hospitable in the world. In February of 2001, I was lucky that a job brought me to two of their biggest cities, Lahore and Karachi, and I met many extraordinarily kind people. This post is dedicated to them.
To the family in Lahore that invited me into their apartment for tea after I bought some clothes from their shop:
To the family who came over to chat with me when we were both tourists at the same garden:
To the salesman who asked me lots of questions about why I wanted to buy Muslim prayer beads to show my students. He ended up giving them all to me for free!
And most importantly, to Ahab and Saamia, who I met through a mutual friend. They ended up being unbelievable hosts to me while I was in Karachi. My favorite memory was when they took me “crabbing.” We went out on a boat, where the local fisherman cooked up the crab that they’d been catching all day, and we had a giant feast.
To all the Pakistani people who might read this — I am thinking of you today.
When I see Pakistan on the news, I think of these people who took care of me and showed me kindness. I think about flying kites, drinking pomegranate juice, and wearing glittery bangles on my wrist.
Whether you’ve had the opportunity to travel or not, try to remember that there are real people behind the headlines. Our global community was hurt today. Let’s show our neighbors that we care.