“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Syed Farook represents everything that is bad in the world. He was really the perfect storm of all the negativity and hate we fill the world with and what it manifests too. The problem is his act of hate has fueled the fires of the hate that exists in our society even more and will ultimately lead to more death and destruction of innocent people.
Anyone who was paying attention could see from a mile something had changed with this guy. Six months earlier he had gone off to Saudia Arabia for a month and came back with a wife and a full beard. It should be pointed out that Saudia Arabia was neither his country, he was an American born in Illinois, nor his country of nationality, he was a Pakistani. Clearly he had been radicalized by some extreme Islamic faction and at which time he became a ticking time bomb.
He was also a disgruntled government worker. I mean this is not a new story, workplace violence is extremely common in this country. Almost all of his co-workers that were quoted described his as “quiet” most said they said hello or goodbye to him daily but never had a conversation with him. If you read between the lines it would seem no one spoke to him and I assume that made him feel lonely and isolated from those around him. Right, wrong or indifferent many studies show this kind of isolation leads to psychological issues. Another trait that many other mass shooters have in common.
The other element he had going for him was he was the kind of person who liked to pile his house with weaponry and automatic weapons and was building bombs in the basement. The amount of these people in this country is growing daily and they come in all colors, religious affiliations and sexes. Social media is filled daily with people making idle threats and referring to the arsenal in their home. Gun and ammunition sales are at all-time record highs in the last 6 years and are still growing. I think people have a right to have guns that said people who are filling their home with enough weaponry for a small militia should be looked at closely no matter who they are.
Most people who commit crimes like this have taken on one very clear path of hate. They may kill because they hate a certain race or because they don’t agree that woman have the right to have a safe and affordable place to get healthcare. It’s usually a very targeted hate they have latched onto to an irrational degree that drives them.
Syed however was different, he has several different ideologies to help feed his hate and instability. He had radical Islam whispering in one ear, he clearly hated his job and the people he worked with even if we will never know the reasons why, he was paranoid and scared of the world around him and fed those fears and insecurities with more weaponry.
So how does Syed an American citizen born on a farm in Illinois from a seeming secular family get where he ended up on December 2, 2015. The answer is simple, hate. Please don’t think for one minute that I condone how he acted out his hate, because I don’t but I think until we look at the real problem of what a violent hateful society we are, we will never make it better.
Let’s try to live in Syed’s world for a little while. He is a Pakistani man in post 9/11 America. We have to acknowledge with no room for wiggling that means a lot of people likely treated him as less than. He was likely treated often as some foreigner outsider who had no right to be here when meanwhile he was born in the Midwest on a farm and it was the only country he had ever known or lived in.
He went into a job every day where no one spoke to him. Now did these people not speak to him because he was of Middle Eastern descent? There is really no way to know but the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Some people likely were bigoted to who he was specifically and did not talk to him for that reason. Another group probably wasn’t necessarily bigoted to him but still felt a little fear and insecurity about befriending a Middle Eastern man. The third group probably just didn’t talk to him because no one else did.
When you hear hate directed at you on a daily basis it become a part of you. It becomes part of your truth. This is another thing proven in psychology time and time again. It’s like a mother that tell their kid they are worthless over and over again, it becomes their truth. I believe Syed Farook saw the worlds hate projected at him and it became his self-fulfilling truth. Not that this condones his cowardly act for one minute. Many people feel this hate directed at them daily from social media, the news, and people around them, they would never go out and shoot a bunch of people over it though. That’s a character distinction.
I just think it’s high time we have an honest conversation about what leads these unstable people to the choices they make. They don’t wake up one day and do this, they plan it they focus on it, and they are obsessed with it in the months or even years leading up to it. They are fed by likeminded people who espouse the same kind of hate they feel in their heart. We have to stop as a society poking the bear.
History has proven time and time again there are no specific ethnicity of bad people. The world we live in is extremely violent but the world has always been extremely violent. Depending on when you lived the enemy you fought was very different. If you were around American in the late 1800’s the most likely religious group to kill you was the Mormons. If you were born in the late 13th century your most likely religious zealot killer was a Christian. The actors and stage changes with time but the theme is always the same, someone’s irrational hate of someone else.
So how do we fix it? I have no idea. I can only do my part. Each of you can only do your part. Treat others with kindness. Don’t accept that we aren’t better than other countries when it comes to how we want to treat human beings. We have a very violent past but we also have a past filled with compassion for human beings. We have gotten so far removed from that side of ourselves that we have become the ideological societies we hate most.
Stop being scared of your neighbors and go meet them. Talk to someone today that you normally wouldn’t. Help someone today who needs help. The more love we show to each other as a society the more love our society is filled with. The kind of energy we feed ourselves is who we become. If that energy is negative as so much of it is now, things will only get worse, not better. If that energy is positive and has a spirit of everyone being on one team as humans, there is nothing this country isn’t capable of. I fear though that these words will on deaf ears and instead the article's comments will be filled with exactly the kind of hate that will fuel the next mass shooter.