“Why her?” A pseudo-philosophical ontology

Two days ago, a young student at the school I work at was fatally struck by a school bus. She was someone from the Muslim community, though I didn’t know her and had never seen her before. But I know people who knew the girl and her family.

The fact that it happened right in front of the building I work at and that she was a hijabi made me think about her death more than any other everyday death would have. I couldn’t help but think, “what if that were me?”

First of all, I don’t at all think this poor young lady was targeted because of her faith. I think the driver was just distracted. But I am a bit shocked, because bus drivers are supposed to be safe drivers. From preliminary reports, it seems the girl had the right of way when the bus driver hit her while she was crossing the street.

I don’t know the full details, but whatever facts do eventually surface, it doesn’t change the fact that a young girl died.

One of my friends texted me asking if I had heard what happened. I hadn’t until I came home later that day. She later told me that she went to visit the girl’s family to give condolences and mentioned that the look on the mother’s face seemed unbearable.

I can’t imagine the pain her family is going through. I am not a parent, but I would assume that no parent wishes to see the day where they outlive their child. It seems to go against the natural order of things. It’s tough when you lose someone you love, no matter how old they are. I still to this day think of my maternal grandmother and my uncle Baba from time to time, even though they were in their 70s and were suffering from illness when they died. I have such vivid memories of both. With the former, I still feel so much guilt for not having had the kind of relationship a granddaughter ought to have had with her grandmother and with the latter, gratefulness to have had the love of a “second father” in a world where blood is thicker than water.

This young girl however was so young (18 or 19 years old), presumably healthy. It’s particularly sad to hear about someone this age dying and so unexpectedly at that. She’d been on this earth long enough to have affected people, made experiences, but not quite long enough to experience the full life cycle. She won’t get to graduate from college, get married, or have kids one day. For some of us, that will never be our reality. But this girl won’t even have that opportunity.

As a Muslim, death is not something to fear or avoid talking about. Actually, our scholars tell us to think of it often. YOLO is not an acronym any practicing Muslim should live by (although when it comes to cake, it seems that I subconsciously do). Death should be a reminder for us all that the life we live in this world, our actions, our intentions, do matter.

In some ways, this girl is being saved from the ugliness of this world. She was young and more pure than many of us still living. That’s what a eulogy written by a friend of hers on Facebook seemed to suggest. And while I do believe it’s true… I think it’s also natural to want to have a good long life in this world, too.

Why did God decide to take her and leave me and the rest of us still living on this planet? We won’t ever know. And if you don’t believe in God, I don’t think your answers are any more rational than mine. In fact, I find the very fact of death to be faith-affirming. I’m sure there are some that would argue that believers cling to God in the uncertainties of life because it makes us feel better, but I say to them…. *Googles for 10 minutes* Man, I remember reading a great defense of this failed logic for a class! I did, I know I did! Was it Descartes’s ontological argument? I can’t remember! DARN IT! I know it wasn’t Anselm’s. UGH. THIS IS VERY FRUSTRATING.

Okay, I’m alright.

What was I saying?

If anything, death reminds me to be grateful for all the things I do have, two loving parents and siblings, a husband whom I love even if he is messier than I would have preferred, my friends, even if I met most of them within the past 5 years, etc. I have a lot to be grateful for. We all do.

I can spend hours ruminating over why God chose to keep me and everyone else still alive. Maybe it’s because we all have more things to achieve in this world. Maybe it’s because God wants to give us more time to come back to Him. Maybe it’s both… I don’t know. But in the midst of trying to rationalize the why, I’m reaffirming my faith in God and that there are some things we human beings can never know. That doesn’t mean we stop asking, just that we learn to accept our limitations and the limitlessness of God when we find no answers.

On vulnerability

Being vulnerable doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times we confront our fears, or are forced to.

Perhaps I feel this way because I am still new to the world of putting myself “out there.”

As I’ve written before, I didn’t grow up in a household where achievements were blasted to the entire neighborhood, although I grew up surrounded by people who did. My parents were certainly very intentional about this decision; and although I do believe it meant that I would get a late start on developing confidence, it kept my ego in check. For the most part, anyway.

I wish I could be both confident and humble. But it’s a delicate balance I think most earnest people will find themselves struggling with and through their entire lives.

How much is too much? Where do you draw the line? How do you keep your ego in check in a world that is fueled by bombast?

I know I overthink almost everything, but I do think that most people don’t think enough (and I’m not talking about the political situation here in the States, but yeah, that applies too).

Ah, the life of contemplation. In an ideal world, I would love to spend my days writing treatises on simple-yet-complex ideas and concepts we take for granted (it’s that pseudo-academic in me that will never die), but I find myself propelled into the kind of world that the theoretical me hates. The world of instant gratification. This need to be affirmed. But this affirmation for the most part only serves to boost my ego. And then I am left with guilt and uncertainty.

I’m not saying we should deny ourselves all the pleasures of this world (I love cake too much), but once you give in, is there any end to it (other than death, of course)?

But I suppose these are just my fears getting ahead of me yet again? In the past, I’ve never been one to wage battle with my fears. They were the demons that kept me in check. But what was the cost? A life very much fettered.

No. Vulnerability is a necessary component of growth. But there never was any guarantee that it would be easy.

A pseudo-philosopher’s thoughtsy thoughts on Difference

Why does difference bother some more than others?

Is it a manifestation of their upbringing?

Is it because they lacked something necessary when they were young?

Some, despite their circumstances, are able to rise above it.

Others live their entire lives accepting only one way – their way.

How do you change how another views the world when that other sees no reason to change?

Is it even your problem to fix?

Maybe, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the matter.

Maybe, you’re just as caught up in your own self-righteousness.

These ruminations are not directly related to the result of the elections, but if you find them relevant, then I do hope they provide some food for thought.

But I suppose the problem of difference is at the heart of the matter. It’s not that difference in and of itself is problematic; it’s that we don’t allow for it. This is not limited to political views; it seems to colour every aspect of our human lives. Size, intellect, race, ethnicity, religion, ability.

For those of us who seek to eradicate systemic injustice or discrimination, do we ever take the time to reflect on whether or not we implicitly accept the current terms and definitions? Perhaps you do. But I know, and I hope it’s unconscious, that sometimes I don’t. The fact that I attempted to calculate how many calories I’ve just consumed at breakfast shows me that I do accept one way of being or doing – in some aspects.

As a believer in God, I do believe there is such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ But there are limits to this. Rightness and wrongness in certain personal matters does not mean I am then to be judge, jury, and executioner to those who don’t do or believe exactly as I do. I don’t know what’s in their hearts.

But more importantly, do I always know what’s in mine?