Current events must bring community together

NATIONAL ISSUES: Communities must not allow recent acts of violence abroad to cause division or additional hatred, but rather bond to ensure proper healing.

Over the last month, the UC Berkeley community has mourned the loss of two members of our community. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Tarishi Jain and Nicolas Leslie, both lost to senseless violence done in the name of terror.

For those of us still in the Bay Area, hearing of the deaths of fellow students came as a jolt. Many of us knew them personally and even more of us knew of someone who did. Our community is hurting and the way we respond is critical.

Those who are more likely to experience more hurt than others, however, are the Muslims on campus and within the greater Bay Area community. They are the ones who are going to have to field accusatory questions in their everyday lives. They will be held responsible for this pain much longer than any of the rest of us will feel it. 

It’s important to remember that the actions that took the lives of two of our campus’s students were the actions of a few extremist individuals.

Though these individuals claimed to be doing this in the name of Islam, the greater Muslim population has made it increasingly clear that the actions of unjustifiable terror do not reflect the beliefs of the majority of the Muslim people.

During times of mourning, it can feel like we must find someone nearby to blame, that our hatred and fear of a marginalized group will somehow make us safer and our wounds less painful. This divisiveness, however, is exactly the opposite of what will help us through hard times.

In Orange County, communities, specifically the Latino and Muslim communities, have been merging together, embracing differences and working together. They do this in an effort to fight against the ostracizing narratives perpetuated by mass media, uninformed and uneducated citizens and political figures. In the process, they’ve also ensured that it will be harder for others to pit them against each other in political battles.

Instead of creating an atmosphere of fear by spreading harmful generalizations, now is the time to reach out to the marginalized communities in our community and on campus.

Creating intra-community bonds will ensure that if terror hits closer to home, we’ll be able to confront it and heal as a unified whole. Rather than reacting to these unfortunate and unexpected acts of violence, we must be proactive and prevent ourselves from criminalizing a demographic in the heat of the moment by replacing fear with empathy and love.