It’s About More Than Just The Ariana Grande Concert by Karen Leslie Hernandez


Manchester.

It’s not just about this one act of violence.

It is horrific, there is no doubt, and I am in no way belittling this act of terror, but, I am always perplexed when these things happen, and how it turns into something so horrible that we forget how many children die every day around the world from other things, including terror.

Just yesterday, dozens of toddlers drowned off the coast of Libya.

One can easily find the statistics (which do vary) – an estimated 19,000 children die every day around the world due to effects of malnutrition and disease mostly in non-descript villages. Many of these young children die alone – they are unseen and forgotten.

Trafficking of children is higher than it has ever been with approximately 400,000 children trafficked worldwide every year, with an estimated 50% of these children trafficked for sex.

Our children are dying on our streets by other children’s bullets, and they’re dying in our schools by other children’s bullets.

Our children are dying at the hands of police officers.

Four to seven children die every day in the United States at the hands of their own parents.

It is difficult to find accurate numbers, but it’s estimated that a total of at least 150,000 children have died in Iraq since 2003, and in Syria since 2011.

A record number of children were killed last year in Afghanistan.

Pakistani children have also paid with their lives in drone strikes.

No one knows exactly how many Latino children die every year trying to cross over the US border through the desert.

The targeting of children anywhere is especially heinous. What happened in Manchester is stunning, horrible, outrageous and indescribable. However, we didn’t just fail these young people and their parents in Manchester, we are failing our children everywhere in the world.

I have to ask this tough question – why is it when Western children die in something horrible, there is worldwide outrage? Yet, when a Muslim child, or a child of color dies in an equally horrific way, by a US bomb, or drone strike, or simply of hunger or disease, the outcry isn’t worldwide? There is truth in this question, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. Western children and people in the West in general, are mourned more openly, with more thoughtfulness, than our children of color elsewhere in the world.

Before you say I am heartless or I am racist toward whites, hold on. There is no doubt that those who died in Manchester are just as worthy as everyone else. My point is – the black, brown, African, Hindu, Indonesian, Indigenous, and Muslim children that die every day around the world, are just as worthy and in need of acknowledgement as the Manchester victims.

No child should be considered less holy due to skin color, religion, or, our lack of humanity.

You see, it is our children who are listening. It is our children who are watching. It is our children who are feeling. They literally are our future. It is a fact that our children are dying all over the world because we are allowing it. Our children will continue to die because adults seek vengeance and not peace. Our children will continue to die because we as adults do not understand reconciliation, but only retribution. Our children will continue to die because we are unwilling to see our role in the lack of basic necessities for everyone in need – such as food, shelter and medical care. Our children will continue to die alone. Because that makes it easier for us. Not seeing allows us to not hold ourselves and others accountable – what we can’t see, won’t hurt us. The reality is, what we can’t (or won’t) see, hurts others.

I end in frustration at the world’s ability to compartmentalize, to distinguish who is more important and who deserves a more sacred response. And in the meantime, we will continue to let our children be trafficked. Killed by their parents. Killed by each other. Killed by police officers. Killed by drones. Wars. Hunger. Disease. And yes, terror.

It’s about more than just the Ariana Grande concert. So much more.

 

Karen Leslie Hernandez is a Theologian and interfaith activist. With a focus in Christian-Muslim Understanding, as well as religious fundamentalism and extremism, Karen is the only theologian who is a Latina and a United Methodist, doing this type of theological work in the US. She has published with several media outlets including the Women’s United Nations Report Network, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue/Studies, the Interfaith Observer, and she is the only Christian to publish an ongoing Op-Ed Column with OnIslam out of Cairo, Egypt. She also teaches and most recently designed and taught an Interfaith Dialogue workshop with Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Karen currently lives in San Francisco and she is pursuing her Doctor of Ministry with Claremont School of Theology. She is a consultant with the United Religions Initiative, is an Ambassador with Parliament of the World’s Religions, is a Domestic Violence Advocate, and she tutors women in prison.  

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Categories: abuse, Abuse of Power, Activism, Childhood, Children, Education, Ethics, Family, fear, God, Human Rights, Poverty, power, Power relations, Race and Religion, Racism, Relationality, religion

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10 replies

  1. Its a shame that the news outlets are so biased. Every death is a tragedy and deserves to be acknowledged in the same way.

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  2. Thank you for this very honest and thoughtful post, Karen. It seems so tasteless and it is so hard in the moment to point out the difference in how the world reacts to these tragedies, but it was exactly what went through my head as I heard the reporter, Katty Kay talk about how awful the Manchester attack was because it targetted young girls and “none of us are used to young girls being targetted that way.” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/05/24/katty_kay_europe_getting_used_to_attacks_like_manchester_we_have_to.html

    Clearly the trauma of the hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted by extremists was not in the same league as far as this reporter was concerned. Yet just a day or two earlier, the media had reported– with much less focus and intensity–the return of some girls to their families after more than three years in captivity, with many still missing or killed. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/nigerias-chibok-girls-emotions-run-high-as-families-are-reunited/ar-BBBlWeP

    Yes, you laid out the different lens through which the world views these tragedies, depending on whether the victims are white or people of color. And yes, our children are listening and watching. Dawn

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  3. Reblogged this on Grab and Keel and commented:
    170525 – Reblogged from Feminism and Religion, Karen Hernandez

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  4. Great, great post. This is so important for people to internalize.

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  5. “Not seeing allows us to not hold ourselves and others accountable – what we can’t see, won’t hurt us. The reality is, what we can’t (or won’t) see, hurts others.”

    Not seeing, not feeling is something that Americans do very well – remarkably well. I have been horrified by America’s indifference to the suffering of others world- wide. I cannot watch the news and am sometimes criticized for my behavior- yet millions do and feel nothing – I feel devastated, so much so that it paralyzes me at times (what I do instead is work with others on the community level). I don’t know what the answer is here but I suspect a lot of it has to do with being “too busy”….many are like hamsters running a wheel – no time to stop -let alone self reflect.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All the facts you give are heart-breaking. Every single one of them. And when you say, “No child should be considered less holy due to skin color, religion, or, our lack of humanity,” that is a great truth. But an irredeemably sad truth. What’s wrong with all of us grownups in the world??

    Thanks for writing this. I hope people will pay attention. To children. To facts and statistics. To everybody’s children. .

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  7. Thank you for being brave enough to make the unseen, seen. My students often disparage me in course evaluations for making them uncomfortable with discussions such as this. For some, I suspect it makes them more determined to look away and deny the clear “isms” that enable the disparate responses. But still I try, and am heartened by those willing to turn toward their discomfort and privilege.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So horribly true, Karen. It’s part of the “those evil people are hurting us” attitude while ignoring our own vicious attacks on others.
    Continue to speak – this voice is needed.

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  9. Karen,
    Thank you for being you. The beautiful, caring person that I knew in seminary, is still caring for the hurts and the hurting that indeed does surround us. You well voiced what I have felt – at least from my white, western, male privilege – that deaths elsewhere, unless the numbers are astounding, do not engage us (or the media) as much. Is it apathy, complacency, intentional blind/deaf – ness? Yes and no.
    We do need to be concerned, yet we cannot always carry all the grief of the world, that alone is God’s area.

    I pray you never lose your voice, energy and attention those hurting. And I pray that God helps you as you encounter and carry this hurt. Sometimes we must give “it” to God.

    Peace and blessings, Jim

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  10. Thought provoking. Thank you for sharing.

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