Celine Dion was mellowing out a high note on my favorite CD of the season, and I was putting finishing touches on a gift DVD I’d made of Kumu Hula Puamohala Kaholokula’s recent hoike held at Lydgate pavilion when, overriding all the peace and joy, I heard the news of the recent terrorist massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan. Of children — over 130 little ones, who had to bear witness to seeing their teachers shot before them before the rifles were trained upon them. It was too shocking an interruption. I found myself sobbing as I’ve not sobbed in many years. Ugly crying, right down to the marrow bone.
Grief overtook me. I let the wails come, with the flood of accompanying tears. Mygodmygodmygod, was all I could gasp, knowing that the parents of the felled children with their close love connections were sure to be in deeper agony, railing at any god who could rule over such heinous acts — especially committed in the name of Ibrahim, who was known as Abraham in the Old Testament and is recognized in Islam as a prophet and apostle of God (Arabic: Allah) and patriarch of many peoples — whom the mujadiheen (jihadists) claim to honor and obey.
What about all the good Islamic people, like my well-loved childhood “Mugh” (for Mughal, or Persian) family cook? How overtaken by grief they must be in this enormity of and act of evil. The timing for a holiday season seems to bold-face the act.
As the morning wore into afternoon, the grief was still there, although our “sleigh” had been able to make some rounds of good will, a quickie trip to offload a mound of garden green waste at the county facility, and we had weathered an exchange and some necessary shopping and check-out at the new Kapaa Longs, complete with a well-stocked Christmas aisle and patient Salvation Army bell-ringer. Interesting, the masks we can wear in order to carry on. But I hadn’t then — and still haven’t — fully recovered my seasonal joy, and feel much as I did the year President Kennedy was assassinated, and then the rest of the assassinations that followed. Under a pall, as when innocence is violently breached.
My own grandsons’ faces floated behind my eyes, and my just-turned-7 granddaughter. What if, what if? I thought, remembering how after the Columbine shootings we were required to check in at the offices of our local Kauai schools to gain a visitors badge. That is, the “good guys” who follow the rules were sure to do that, but … again, What if, what if?
The Dalai Lama, long one of my heroes, may say that the prayers of the monks (along with other good people who pray and meditate) are helping to hold the fabric of life on this planet together, which I like to believe. However, one truth I have learned and experienced in my own life: There always exist the “guys in the black hats.” And their heinous crimes are being masterminded to new levels of astonishing hatred.
As Christmas and Hanukkah and all other “light (and joy) celebrations” take place this year, my prayer will be that we don’t blanch and whimper and cringe in fear (more or less, complain), but come together in unity — I mean all of us guys and gals in the white hats throughout our nation and the world, no matter the nuts and bolts of our belief systems. Let’s welcome the new year in with compassionate hearts, meditating and sending forth strong wishes for healing of body, mind and spirit for all who so desperately need it to continue living through 2015 and beyond, with hope and fortitude. And grace. Especially all the children.
You may have heard or read about Malala, the Pashtun girl of Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about girls having the right to attend school. At the tender age of 13, she was already thinking bravely, putting her life on the line for her beliefs as an Eastern Asian version of Joan of Arc. It happens that my husband Dee and I are engaged right at this time in listening to her amazing story via a recommended library audio tape of what is taking place in Pakistan just as the news spewed forth the new crime. Malala received medical care to save her life. That “bravest girl” is now living and going to school in Birmingham, England, missing her own valley and home country now that the Taliban have moved in to create paralyzing fear in the hearts of the inhabitants. She continues to speak out for the rights of Islamic girls and women, and it is no wonder she was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Perhaps we were sensitized to the new act of terror because of being deeply moved by Malala’s story, but that is not a bad thing. Desensitization is a weapon in itself. As is fear. Maybe a good prayer for the future of the world as 2014 comes to its close would be for the somewhat oxymoronic pair, sensitivity and courage, for ourselves, and blessings for all beings.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara has been a Kauai writer and promoter for 30 years. Born in British India, brought up in Australia and California, she found her home and heart on Kauai in 1984. A former writer and department editor for The Garden Island, she launched and continues to run her TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations – Kauai as part of DAWN Enterprises.