How to Mend Our World After Violence

It seems as though each week brings more division and more violence, more bullets and more blame. When the world around us seems irrevocably shattered, how do we begin to piece it back together?

After a gunman killed 11 people at the Jewish Tree of Life Synagogue, the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh started small—they looked at what synagogue family members might need. “We realized that it’s such a tragic time. That these are our brothers and sisters. These are family. Money should be not an issue. That should not be a concern. Paying for a funeral or paying for medical costs—that is not what should be focused on right now.”

They started a campaign to raise money—their goal was $25,000. But in just six hours they had met their goal, so they raised it. It was met again. The cycle continued and is continuing still; currently they have raised over $212,000.

This, small actions of love, of kindness, this is how we mend our world.

Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh isn’t just offering financial support either.

“We’re not going to stop. We don’t think our work is finished. We just want to know what you need… If it’s people outside your next service, protecting you; let us know. We’ll be there… If you just need someone to come with you to the grocery store because you don’t feel safe in this city, we’ll be there. And I’d just like to note that was the same offer made to me by this [Tree of Life] community when this election happened that was so negative and the spike in hate crimes against Muslims.”

This, small actions of love, of kindness, this is how we mend our world. We gather the fragments together, all of us, our different religions and skin tones, our different political parties and backgrounds. We knit our fingers together as we stand at vigils, we raise our voices in harmony at services, we speak the names of the slain to each other to validate their importance. We offer food or money or protection or a ride to the store. We pull the marginalized closer—we look them in the eye and tell them, “You belong.”

Another week is coming. An election week, too—sure to be taut with even more partisanship and hostility than usual. But we don’t have to watch the world keep breaking. We can speak something different, live something different. Like the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, we can choose to remake our world with love and kindness, with openness and tenderness.

We can love anyway, even here, even now.