The world is filled with many injustices and cruelties. In a dry and barren land, Palestinians are subjugated to tyranny—we cannot forget Faris Odeh, who, like David, threw a rocket at the Goliath of the Israeli army, but only to be shot down. His bravery will live on in our memory. And who could forget the innocents in Yemen who were subjected to drone strikes? One cannot even imagine the terror and fear that citizens of a country under attack feel, not knowing whether today will be their last day alive or whether their loved ones will be safe. Here in the United States, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives because of the actions of terrorists; the victims had only the choice to jump out of the Twin Towers or face the collisions of the planes, and many had no time to react at all. The Boston Marathon bombings injured over 275 people, 14 of whom became amputees as a result of the attack.
Even more suffering exists in the world today. Native Americans are still experiencing the aftermath of a great genocide, now living impoverished on reservations. Thirteen people died during a shooting on the Navy Yard-on suspect was killed and the other is on the run. A madman killed kindergartners in the Newton Massacre, and children in the ghettos face the harsh life of poverty, living in defacto warzones where innocents fall victim to gunshots. These people thirst for freedom from a life of hardship, just as Moses and his people did when they sought liberation from Pharaoh’s wrath.
In this war-torn world, not only is murder sanctioned by governments and organizations that wish to gain or keep power, but it is also a threat from seemingly ordinary citizens. Hadiya Pendleton was killed when she was caught in crossfire while hanging out in the park after school. With young girls and other innocents dying from the hate spread by violence, terrorism, and racism, we thirst for something better. We thirst for a better world. We thirst for peace!
Humankind has been combating one another since the days of Cain and Able. The great reformers and other people who were champions of change and progress have been mistreated, scorned, abused, and killed. The story Jesus Christ is only one of many examples of persecution that have prevailed throughout history. But does anyone really stop to think about the pain that he experienced? And what of Pharaoh turning his back on Moses, refusing to listen to his pleas to let his people go? How sorrowful and despairing must Moses have felt in that moment? Joseph’s own brothers sold him into slavery, The Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him) was brutally tortured, and many others who were fighting for a moral cause were also treated badly.
From the homemade bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombings to the nuclear bombs used against the Japanese, it sometimes seems as though this hatred and violence will last forever. Yet, we still yearn for a world free from violence and oppression. How can we make the world a better place and achieve peace?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace and compassion, and he was assassinated for standing up and doing what was right. Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Fred Hamptom, Emmit Till, Travyon Martin… the list of victims to violence goes on and on, and there are countless people who have died by another person’s hands whose names are not in any history books.
The worldview of people such as Emmit Till’s killer is incredibly warped; the murderer had this to say: “Niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights.”
George Zimmerman hunted down Travyon Martin as if he were an animal, telling the telephone operator “These [expletive], they always get away,” as he broke the police code of conduct by going after Travyon Martin, starting a conflict which eventually took his life.
Sam Cook says a change is going to come, but when? Barack Obama is a symbol of peace, equality and racial progress, but to many people in Yemen and other countries in the Middle East, he is a murderous tyrant whose foreign policy takes innocent lives. We search for something better! We search for peace and tranquility. We search for a world in which we can cease all hostilities and live peacefully with one another. We long for a better world, a world in which people of different religions can respect each other’s beliefs, a world in which people of different cultures can see each other as equals, a world in which people of different backgrounds can live and let live. We long for a world in which Palestinians and Israelis are no longer enemies, where drone strikes and terrorism are things of the past, where all violence is erased from existence.
Together, we can create this peaceful world. We can create a society free from poverty, a society where mothers won’t have to see their children being shot, a society where all mankind is truly equal and treated with respect. But we cannot change the condition of our society until individuals change their own qualities and values. Let us embrace compassion, let us honor justice, let us truly love our neighbor as ourselves. Whether we are rich or poor, black or white, friends or strangers, in a dry and barren land, let us create the change the world needs to become full of peace and freedom!