I've heard it so many times now, it's almost interesting to note my reactions to these prayers and melodies, that bellow out from the top of the minarets just outside my window. When I first arrived they were enchanting, signaling I had truly arrived to a place that was far from home; then I had my 'sing-a-long phase' when I would find myself mouthing, trying to listen and copy the sound of the Arabic syllables. Today it was near numbness, and maybe the smallest ounce of comfort and I sat in my bed, exhausted from reading more news about the violence at a cafe and separately a synagogue in Copenhagen.
Were we not just here? The media is certainly jumping on the bandwagon. 'There is SO MUCH NOISE everywhere!' I want to yell from the top of the minaret. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. I don't like the continual portrayals of 'the Jews' as victims. The families of the young murderer are as much victims as are the victims of the dead. Are we not all suffering here? Aren't we ALL responsible, as a society, for the violence that perpetuates?
Metaphorically over the rainbow, a had a conversation with a friend last night who is LIVING the message that we need to hear. The media will continue to feed us, to tempt us, to lure us, in the same way that an addiction does, to trauma-like news stories that attempt to simplify good and evil. As if when we watch something terrible happening on the news or read about it online we can emotionally remove any responsibility from ourselves.
'But here is our responsibility,' she reminded me. 'We must have our focus on the good, not the bad. We have to try very hard to see the few people who make the difference. We must not fear each other."
And in this conversation I gained some strength, because I must admit, I do feel afraid for the world. But my friend reminded me that it is each of our actions, one at a time, one relationship at a time, one conversation with someone you didn't know, these are the ways that the world heals, even if we can't see our own repairs, we must have faith they are there.
Sarajevo is such the glowing example of tolerance. For 500 years the Ottoman's ruled here in a famously pluralistic society where many religious and cultural traditions flourished. Sarajevo pulled together an army of its citizens from all religious backgrounds to defend itself against the nationalist Serb army in the 90s. And it is in Sarajevo that my friend the Tauber's have recorded countless stories of Jewish families who were saved by their Muslim neighbors from Nazi concentration camps and in the 1990s war, it was the Jewish community building that became a center for delivering food, and medical supplies, and the mail(!) to all Sarajevans.
How can we tell THIS history!!?? And THIS story??? Counter to the one in the media which tells me one singular painfully false narrative of Muslims as 'perpetrators' and Jews as 'weak victims backed by the west?'