Earlier this week 145 people were killed when a school was attacked in Pakistan. This included the massacre of 132 children. It’s hard to even begin to imagine how this could have happened. I think one of my friends described it well when he said the group who did this was “cowardly, shameful and fearful”
Also this week, a man in Australia held a group of people hostage which resulted in his death, and the death of two hostages. I think my friends words apply here as well “cowardly, shameful and fearful”
Very little connected these two events but one evoked a remarkable response. During the situation in Australia, a flag often associated with Islamic extremism was displayed where the hostages were being held. This caused concern, or even panic, for many Australian Muslims who were fearful of the potential backlash. Would people assume all Muslims were like this man?
But one woman responded in a unique way that could be described as an act of counter-terrorism. It began with a tweet about a (presumably Muslim) woman on public transit who was afraid to ride, even wear her headscarf (Hijab) An Australian woman leapt at the opportunity to Love her neighbor and offered to ride with her or anyone afraid of retribution for this one mans actions. And from there the hashtag #illridewithyou began.
One article I read said there were over 150,000 #illridewithyou tweets within the first 12 hours. And it wasn’t just in Australia. This idea, or movement, was spreading across the globe as neighbors joined to together to counter the growing fears and replace them with a simple message of Love, #illridewithyou.
Whether it’s the horrific events of Pakistan or the hostage situation in Australia, those of us on the outside looking in may be struggling with how to respond. You may shed some tears, feel angry, feel afraid and even question humanity.
While we are processing these tragedies, let's take a minute to consider the response that started with our neighbors in Australia. One that is rooted in Love and drives a stake through the heart of fear: #illridewithyou
If you would like to learn more about The Nations and how we are Loving our neighbors in the US and overseas you can email firstname.lastname@example.org