One of the most uplifting things about the human experience is when people suffering unimaginable loss choose to channel their grief and pain into something so constructive that it outshines the tragedy. A recent article I came across served as a reminder of this, and as an inspiration.
The event it describes—three promising young Muslims were shot and killed in North Carolina because of their religious beliefs—hit close to home for me, literally, since I have family all over the state and went to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. North Carolina has always been a cultural crossroads between North and South, old and new. The way the family and friends of the victims and local community members have responded—using this horrible event as catalyst to do good works in their honor—offers up a vision of the New South that makes me want to go home again.
Dr. Martin Luther King said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I’ve found that if you have real strength in your convictions, you can stand confidently in the face of any opposition. It’s only when your own viewpoint is weak or ill-conceived that your fear of others can take over, and only in the most extreme, irrational instances would this weakness and fear ever translate into violence.
We live in an insane world. Watching even five minutes of the 24-hour news cycle confirms that. It takes an exceptionally brave, generous person to directly suffer the worst repercussions of that insanity and, instead of being brought down and consumed by it, turn it on its head, standing firm and letting the light of truth shine so bright that it eclipses any amount of darkness.
Human rights are universal for a reason. No matter how strongly you believe in the superiority of your own viewpoint and convictions, there are fundamental rights and freedoms that every human being deserves to be granted. One of the most vital and important is the right to religious freedom.
I believe it’s possible to create a world where the tragic events described in the article above are a distant memory, and if that comes to pass it will be because of selfless acts of love and generosity like those displayed by the family and friends of these victims. That stubborn desire to shine a light into the darkness is the true story and legacy of the human spirit.