Saturday, February 12, 2011

For whom the bell tolls: Bomb blasts and our global family

Lahore is a city filled with indescribable beauty. The mango colored sunrises over the Ravi River, the lifted laughter of kite-flying-kids running across Race Course Park, the bowling and batting of cricket balls in the back alleys of Badami Bagh, the curves of shrines and mosques that weave throughout Mall Road, the 10 million smiles that illuminate the markets and malls (even during the longest blackout).

Last month, there was a bomb blast – approximately 5 blocks from our Pharmagen Water Shop – that attempted to destroy that beauty. At least 11 people died, including the 13 year old boy who was likely bought and brainwashed to bear the explosive.

Two days later, still unsure how to respond, I came across the following poem:
No man is an island entire of itself
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee

Reading this piece, I immediately thought about my 11 person family – including my littlest brother Gerry – and realized that even though I never met the 11 who died that day in Lahore, they were a part of me. They were my brothers and sisters. They were my parents. They were my family…

By adopting 7 children and living a life of sacrificial and impartial love, my parents began teaching me at an early age that family is a globally inclusive idea. And when my dad and I first traveled to Kenya 7 years ago I began to understand what that really means. I realized that the abandoned wives/mothers struggling with HIV in the Kibera slum were my sisters, the young men running from gangs and drugs in Mathare were my brothers, and the couple in the Rift Valley struggling to feed their kids a single meal a day were my parents.

Reading this poem in Lahore, I realized that that the 11 who died on January 25 were also my family.

And I realized that you – wherever you might live, whoever you might be, whatever you might believe, however you might feel about me – are also my family. And together, we need to realize that our globally family is struggling and the bell is tolling, for them and for us.