Hearing the news about a mosque burning down in the US doesn’t evoke as strong a response as it should. Muslims around the world have become so accustomed to hearing news of such atrocities being carried out against their fellow brethren that even a drone strike on innocent civilians prompts nothing more than a woeful sigh, a shake of the head, sometimes accompanied by a muttered prayer, and often a curse for the aggressors.
It’s the downside of being human. Our ability to adapt and cope dictates that our tolerance levels will rise each time we experience something despicable. This implies that we’ll shrug our shoulders to heinous crimes that we’ve accepted we cannot prevent or avenge in any way, and so we distract ourselves with much more menial issues to compensate for the helplessness that we feel in other areas of grave concern. But this never lasts forever. At some point we realise that what doesn’t kill us doesn’t make us stronger, but in fact, it only makes us more tolerant, to a point.
There’s another effect that is often overlooked when people so dreamily proclaim that same cliche. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. No it doesn’t. It starts something in you that grows as long as your capacity and tolerance for it can harbour it until eventually you reach breaking point and suddenly realise that it never made you stronger to begin with. It only made you brittle. With each incident that wears away at your dignity and security, you practice tolerance and patience, but until the underlying tension is addressed, you become more brittle each day until eventually you lose any flexibilty and give way to the extremist that lurks in everyone. But at that point, no one is able to witness the horrors and taunts that preceded that final straw, so instead of understanding that the victim has finally lashed out, they become the victims and accuse you of unwarranted aggression instead.
Perspective. Context. Understanding. It’s been a while since I witnessed their inclusion in any rational debate about being human, or about human rights and dignity.