Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tragedy in Seattle

I write tonight with a great deal of sadness in my heart. Though I am hundreds of miles away I still heard about a shooting today in downtown Seattle. Evidently a man entered the building housing the Jewish Federation and shot six people, killing one. According to the Seattle PI, he stated that was was a Muslim American, angry at Israel. As I have argued time and again here, violence is not a solution, it is a cycle - a cycle very adept at perpetuating itself. This instance is no different. The use of violence against others, especially unarmed and peaceful others, is deplorable, whether it be in Lebanon, Palestine, Israel or Seattle. The sadness I feel exists on many levels.

First and foremost, my heart goes out to the victims and their families. This senseless crime is shock to everyone and for it there is no justification.

Second, and this may sound strange, but I feel sorry for the perpetrator, as I do for most all perpetrators. What he did was wrong and by no means justified, but in that most deplorable act he chose to throw his life away and all the possible good that could have been done. He took the life of another, an action he can never take back.

Third, I worry for our brothers and sisters from the Middle East as well as those of the Muslim faith who are already being scapegoated and blamed for the actions of a lone individual. Just as Scott Petersen does not represent all Americans or Christians, so too does this individual not represent all Muslim Americans. (The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement condemning the shooting earlier today.)

Finally, I am saddened for the prospects of the Peace in Lebanon movement in Seattle. The Arab American Community Coalition cancelled tomorrow's planned silent march for peace, and I believe they did so wisely. Tensions are high and the event was cancelled so to eliminate any possible violence against anyone on any side of the issue.

And that's the point, I suppose. This one act of violence has destroyed so much work towards peace. It fuels the fires started by the ignorant and the hateful. But more than anything, it creates fear, fear which can then cause individuals to behave towards other in ways they would otherwise find unacceptable. This tragic event must not be used to divide our Seattle community or marginalize members within it. We must all stand together against the violence, both at home or abroad, abandoning the traditional vicious cycle of fear and violence. That one individual carried out such an act of violence should strengthen our resolve for peace, not weaken it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The acts committed were unjust. We must learn from this tradegy. One thing I know is that we must not stop the resistence in the wake of this incident. It must never stop.

"Remember the solidarity shown to Palestine here and everywhere... and remember also that there is a cause to which many people have committed themselves, difficulties and terrible obstacles notwithstanding. Why? Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights."
-Edward Said