According to reports a 20 year old man, Adam Lanza, walked into an Elementary School in Connecticut, dressed in "black battle fatigues and a military vest" and began firing. By the time the shooting stopped, 26 innocent people had lost their lives -- 20 of them young children.
As we helplessly watch the dark realities of the world in which we live, we cannot just grieve about these repeated tragedies anymore. If we want to claim that we belong to a civilized society, we must confront the culture of violence that pervades our own country and other places around the world.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 16,799 deaths were recorded in 2009 due to homicide. An estimated 800,000 people were murdered in 2011 around the globe. Two-fifths of them were young people between the ages of 10 and 29 who were killed by other young people. These figures do not include people killed in terror related acts, collateral killing in drone attacks or other sustained and organized killing done in the name of national security. In addition to these killings there is another type of killing that takes place in our world daily that we must all take responsibility for. Some 25,000 people die every day, almost 9 million per year, as a result of hunger, while we waste some 40 per cent of the food that we buy.
Wrongful death is a wrongful death whether through gun violence or other artificially created means. We cannot blame just one individual for these mass killings. In a global world, each one of us is responsible for the acts of violence and killing of hundreds of people daily.
We are the ones who manufacture guns and weapons of human destruction and glorify them.
We are the ones who enact laws so that people can buy weapons of mayhem.
We are the ones who promote movies depicting uncontrolled violence in the name of entertainment.
We are the ones who extol the virtues of war to please God.
We are the ones who allow our governments to use violence against the "enemies" in the name of national security.
We are the ones who promote the idea of a just war to eliminate those who do not fit in our thought paradigms.
We are the ones who teach our children ideologies that promote intolerance, hatred and anger against others.
We are the ones who allow domestic violence to prevail in our family culture.
We are the ones who allow killing in the name of honor.
We are the ones who deny basic food to others to align ourselves with a capitalist economy.
We are the ones who promote the culture of haves and have not's in the name of progress.
This is what our man-made philosophies and distorted religious ideologies have given us. They have told us that might is right and the one who would possess the mightiest weapons would be the most right and powerful. We live this axiom every day in all aspects of our life.
In contrast to this we have ignored true divine guidance that declares humanity as one with dignity to all. It promotes the idea of the sanctity of human life and it takes a stand against the race to pile up weapons to kill others. It talks of the brotherhood and sisterhood of all human beings. It invites people to peace, the essence of life. It tells us to live the peace within ourselves and to practice it in our daily life especially towards those who are different from us.
That divine guidance is the essence of human life, was the mission that all messengers lived for. This was the message that they invited humanity to believe. Yet, perverted human instinct has twisted the divine guidance and turned it into a sectarian call that promotes violent ideologies.
It is time that we bring back the essence of divine peace in our selves and our society. It is time that we focus on those ideas that invite us to peace, non-violence, dignity and respect to all.
The Connecticut shooting should remind us that in addition to gun control and tougher laws we need a value framework that is taught in our families, communities and schools. We need a framework that promotes a culture of peace, a culture of the sanctity of ALL human life and the respect for each and every individual regardless of his or her background.
" .. God invites [everyone] to the abode of Peace, and guides whoever He will to a straight path." Quran 10:25
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observer and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.