I have been struggling with personal grief and felt unable to speak on the tragedies in New Zealand. I also know that grief lasts longer than a news cycle, and that what I’m about to write will be true whenever it is read.
The first time I walked into a mosque, before I became Muslim, I was struck by how peaceful it was. It wasn’t a beautiful building. From inside and out, it looked like a classroom with the furniture removed.
There was beauty in the people. In the women reading, the children playing on the floor, or sleeping. There was grace in the slow, careful movements of prayer. People connected to something outside of themselves. Not precious or uncomfortable. It was a stillness that felt worn in, lived inside of.
I find it hard to imagine the fear and hate that must exist in someone. To walk into that stillness and meet it with its opposite. To find peace and greet it with destruction and pain and noise.
The fear comes before the hate. The fear teaches you to hate. And fear lives in the unknown. The best thing we can do is know each other.
The brown man with the beard likes his coffee black with two sugars. He stays up too late watching sport documentaries. The woman with in the headscarf reads Carver even through it makes her sad, and likes the morning because the day is still new and there is breakfast.
These things are real and have meaning. If we could only use our breath to talk through the fog of rhetoric, we might say something the other understands.