Back to the Basics: Clinging to Human Decency in the Aftermath of Tragedy


As a lawyer, it is far too easy for me to get embroiled in the politics of recent tragedies: over 1,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean, a privileged White rapist going virtually unpunished, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. There are so many laws that need to be changed, too many rights that need to be protected, so many broken systems that need to be fixed...too many causes to fight for.

Just a few days ago, I was filled with furious rage as I read the full victim impact statement from the Brock Turner case. Having worked within the justice system, I know too well the many failings of our criminal justice system and the absence of justice for victims of domestic violence. My mind worked up angry arguments on society's systemic failure to protect our girls, our fellow can it still be acceptable to assault women without any meaningful consequences? How can the statistics, in 2016, be that 1 in 3 women around the world experience physical or sexual violence? Is this the kind of world in which we are raising our daughters?

And then the massacre in Orlando. Waking up to the horrific news of the deadliest mass shooting in US history, I couldn't help but jump right into the heated political debates. Why don't we have better gun laws? How can someone legally go and buy a semi-automatic military weapon, while simultaneously, be legally banned from donating blood if they have slept with someone from the same sex? How can we live in a country where there have been 133 mass shootings in a span of 6 months?

Everywhere around me, people are arguing, debating, fighting, grieving. Online trolls spewing out more despicable hatred. People divided across too many issues to even keep track of. It feels that America has never been more polarized.

Where is our civility as a society?
Where is our empathy as a community?
Where is our decency as humans?

As I think about how scary this world has become, I am overwhelmed with fear and a gnawing sense of hopelessness. How do we move on? How can we make this world a better place for our children, our families, our communities, when we live in a world that no longer cares if babies are drowned at sea? When bullet-proof blankets are being concocted in order to protect children from being gunned down in our local schools? When, as a society, anger, hatred and divisiveness are the only commonalities we share?

I cannot claim to have any satisfying answers. All I can do, as a lawyer, advocate, but above all, as a parent, is to try and go back to the basics. Teach my kids the difference between right and wrong. Treat others with respect and decency; teach my kids to do the same. Live out the values of tolerance, acceptance and love in both my personal and professional spheres of life. Ensure that my children are well-adjusted and love them the best I can so that they don't have the emotional and mental scars that lead to the perpetuation of violence. I can only pray that other parents, educators, leaders and colleagues do the same.

Because, in the aftermath of these senseless tragedies, all we can do is cling to our human decency and go back to the basics. There is no legal argument, no community protest, no level of eloquence, no political authority that can make our world a better place. There is only our humanity and what each of us chooses to do with it. Let us choose civility over divisiveness, compassion over intolerance and love over hatred. Let us not lose faith in humanity, decency, the goodness that still exists within each of us.