By Fatima Husain

I have been wringing words together in my head ever since I laid eyes on that first tweet that I came across about the attacks in Paris..

I have been wringing my fingers together, forcing them to come up with some sort of sense as to why these things keep on, keep on, keep on happening…

I have an ever-growing lump in the back of my throat because whereas I usually have just the right words to say, right now...I’m dumbfounded.

I am confused, and appalled. I am furious, and mourning. I am so many things that I have not yet figured out how to name all of them.

Let me share with you this one thing though: the word “I” is one that makes it to the very bottom of my everyday writing diction. I don’t like it. I don’t like using it.

The world is not made up of me, me, me. I was never raised to think about me, me, me. But in a world that has become so prevalent with tragedies, in a world where those who claim to be of my faith begin to terrorize for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom, I have begun to use “I” more and more.

More, because I now feel as if I am being watched. Feel as if whatever I say is being scrutinized, whatever I wear is being judged, whatever I do is being tallied. Of the billions of Muslims in the world, I have begun to focus on I.

What am I though, really, in the context of it all? A mere individual who does everything she can to follow her religion to the best of her ability.. one who is struggling on a daily basis to figure out right from wrong.. one whose personal jihad (struggle), is letting go of this life in order to focus on the next and eternal.

Yet, the I creeps back upon me again. No one has questioned me yet as to why I haven’t changed my FB profile picture to add the France flag filter. But I have seen that question being asked to so many others. Must I post about every single atrocity, every single pain, every heartbreak, in order to be deemed worthy enough of feeling for a people? Must I justify why I don’t post about one, yet post about another? Oh, I used to post about tragedies afflicting those around the world and at home left and right. But once these questions started… once my intentions began getting questioned.. I found myself not wanting to get mixed up in the mess of it all.

Is it not human enough for me to feel anguish and suffering for those who have lost their lives? Is it not human enough that I despise everything that these terrorist organizations stand for, that I would defend my religion and the good of my people in a heartbeat, without having to tell you so? Is it not enough that I feel as if I need to defend myself now amongst my own peers, when we were fine just a few days ago?

I don’t remember 9/11. I have displaced memories from stories that I have been told as a child and while growing up. I was not informed, did not realize how far deep ingrained it was within me, until the Paris attacks. In the past few days, I have questioned myself and my actions more than I ever have before. Since when did I make it all right for others to fear-monger me into being someone who I am not?

I can stand with Paris, and Palestine, and Beirut, and Kenya, and Nigeria, and Pakistan, and Libya, and Syria, and every other place that is being terrorized and afflicted with hardship and undeserved cruelty. I am an individual, made up of the same beating heart as every last one of you. I have the same affect to these events as every last one of you.

I can hurt for everyone suffering, just as I hope that you understand that it is possible for me to condemn terrorism without me having to explicitly state it. Must I present myself as good to you? I always hold open the door, say thank you, wait for others to pass, but today I did it knowingly. I made sure that I didn’t do anything “wrong,” or anything that would give the wrong impression. I didn’t say anything that could be taken out of context. Just like most of the world, I am also innately good. This agenda setting of tragedies and bad everywhere has desensitized us, has made those being targeted feel vulnerable.

I do not like using the word I. But for this, I shall. Change begins at home. Today, I let myself fall into the helplessness that surrounded me. Tomorrow, I will go on living as a peaceful Muslim-American Pakistani, denouncing terror everywhere without having to make sure that you know it.


Activism Related Articles