Raji Jayasinghe is Ubiquity’s VP for Asia. He is a native Sri Lankan and works out of Colombo in partnership with Ubiquity’s various local partners and students.
This Sunday, out of the blue, Sri Lanka suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks the world has ever seen. A group of ISIS-backed suicide bombers targeted churches and hotels across the island, causing death and injury to over 500 men, women, and children.
On Thursday, for the first time since the incident, I cried. This may seem strange but I’ve been so angry and so confused about what has happened that I haven’t even had the courage to do that.
I’ve always balked at people who post things on Facebook and then walk away as though the job has been done. But, reading all the messages in various places has actually helped, in some small way, to allow me to channel compassion and love over disgust and anger and helplessness. So even now, as angry as I am with extremists I will never understand and a set of leaders I don’t think I can ever respect, I am starting to realize that we cannot simply shrug things off with a “what to do”.
But what can we do?
My sister shared this quote with me and I want to share it here.
“The sleeping giant is one name for the public; when it wakes up, when we wake up, we are no longer only the public: we are civil society, the superpower whose nonviolent means are sometimes, for a shining moment, more powerful than violence, more powerful than regimes and armies. We write history with our feet and with our presence and our collective voice and vision. And yet, and of course, everything in the mainstream media suggests that popular resistance is ridiculous, pointless, or criminal, unless it is far away, was long ago, or, ideally, both. These are the forces that prefer the giant remain asleep.” – Rebecca Solnit, ‘Hope in the dark’
The giant doesn’t need to scream and smash. The giant can be gentle.
We can express love to each other, with a smile or a hug or a word. These are things that we, as the laid-back islanders that we are, don’t express explicitly enough. These are things we all tend to take for granted. But these things need to be said and they need to be shared. Not just on social media but with the person next to you, right now. That is how we will overcome. Tell people you love how you feel. Tell the people around you, whether you know them or not, whether they are Muslim or Christian or anything else, that you love them. Do this in person, because you are a person. Make it a point to voice your humanity or show it in some way. The smallest act of kindness, whether it is a look or a smile or a WhatsApp message or a helping hand, will be one of many droplets that will drown this hate and this sorrow.
We love our Muslim brothers and sisters, we want them to be a part of our lives – they make us better. We love all the amazing people that visit this country and that have helped us selflessly for so many years – we want you with us always.
So do something today. Even if it is something small. Don’t tell yourself that your act of love doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make a difference. It does. We all do.