“Only when we are truly open to understanding the struggles of another can we be fully compassionate and empathetic.”
This past week we recently learnt about the premature demise of a beautiful soul named Sameera. I never met her in person but her friends had wonderful things to say about her. It was heart-breaking when I received messages regarding her death. It was truly horrific. Imagine losing your child, friend or lover in that manner.
My heart goes out to everyone who knows her. I hope that in time you find peace. But what was more distressing to me was how people made light of her death simply because she was transgender. Radio hosts minimising her death and laughing about it, to news agencies calling her ‘a man disguised as a woman’ made me sick to my stomach. What has happened to our humanity?
When we are able to joke or laugh about the death of another, we have truly lost our humanness. A person was brutally murdered! There is nothing funny about it whether it happens to a man or a lady or a kid or a person with Down syndrome or a transgender person. Everyone bleeds the same despite differences. They hurt the same and all they want are similar things.
Imagine listening to someone laughing about the death of your loved one, how does that make you feel? Hurt? Upset? Angry? Helpless? Well that is how we made Sameera’s parents feel.
We as a society are losing our ability to empathise and that is the downfall of our generation. If we were able to look at people beyond their labels and just accept them as human beings, we would be far more empathetic in our approach to them and in our public policies.
To make things worse, I was recently directed to an article by a lecturer who fiercely claimed that lesbian, gay, biseual and transgender (LGBT) people are confused by the ‘devil’ and are ‘born with souls opposite to their gender’. If I was there I would have fact checked him on the spot and brought his attention to the fact that he is conflating two issues. Now I can go into the nitty-gritty of the speech and find issues with every sentence he said.
But my issue is how hate speech like this is going unchallenged. The potential problems that may arise from his speech are detrimental to the mental health of our youth. His claims are not evidence based let alone logical in any sense. Conversion therapy has been proven by every major psychiatric organisation in the world to not work and even worse, they cause more harm.
He also talked about the influence of peers as a risk factor for becoming LGBT and yet till today I have not seen a Shrek or an Elsa or a Popeye walking in the streets. And if exposure to LGBT people makes one LGBT by right there shouldn’t be any LGBT people in the world because these people are constantly surrounded by heterosexual individuals. The bases of his arguments are unsubstantiated.
Hate speech like this can’t be left unchallenged as people are left believing in claims like this. He is simply spreading fear for no legitimate reason. And imagine the young kids who are listening to his speech. Imagine how terrified they must feel. Yet when one commits suicide, people like this who propagate hate ends up scot free leaving behind the parents of the deceased with so many unanswered questions and hurt.
Anyone who spreads hate has blood on their hands. I am against any form of hate be it be racism, sexism, bigotry or homophobia. We must understand that one can be an oppressor in one context and a victim in another! So shouldn’t we be spearheading the fight against any form of oppression instead of screaming oppression only when someone revokes your rights?
Your piousness is not reflected on how well you can condemn another but in how you empathise and help one another.
As long as we live on this earth we are forever going to have differences, but the key is in finding a way to work together to make everyone’s life better.
So here is to all the fallen souls, irrespective of race, creed, sexual orientation, etc. Let us take a moment of silence to remember the ones we have lost and appreciate the life that we have. Let us work together to make it a safe place for everyone to live.
Love must always prevail.