Heroes #5: Danish and Noman

Every time ISIS commits a new atrocity, the Internet flares up with racist generalizations that all Muslims are terrorists. This story is about two Muslim boys who came from the overwhelmingly non-terrorist majority of Islam.

Goals Status:

  • Marathon: On Track. I’ll be running my first race of the year, the Get Your Rear In Gear 5K, in Fort Worth next Saturday.
  • Two Square Yards of Earth: Making Progress. I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be by this time, but I’m moving forward. I finished Chapter 3 yesterday.
  • 100 Posts: On Track. This is my 20th post for the year, exactly as planned.

I remember the first time I became aware of India as a real state in the world. In 1986 or so, Newsweek ran a cover story with the picture of an Indian man brandishing an iron bar over his head, standing in a victorious position as buildings burned in the background. The story was about ethnic riots between Hindus and Muslims in the north of the country, riots that had been raging for days by the time the story ran and had killed a number of Indians, Hindu and Muslim alike.

Before that story, India to me had been an idyllic community where everyone was Hindu and talked with funny accents and lived in peace with each other, because Hindus were of course nonviolent. Since then, I’ve learned it’s made up of hundreds of ethnic communities, many of them speaking different languages, and some of them embracing the same brand of nonviolence as the Hatfields and McCoys.

So discovering that, in a land with so many lines of ethnic and racial tension, a pair of Muslim boys had given their lives trying to rescue a Hindu girl from drowning in a sewage pit caught my attention.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s probably not what happened at all. What happened is that two boys saw a girl in distress, drowning in the most horrible way most of us can imagine, and tried to save her, themselves drowning in the trying. The labels Muslim and Hindu didn’t get added to the description until adults became involved in the story later.

We can learn much from this story, but the main lessons, I think, are these: first, heroism does not recognize a minimum age; and second, before we learn to apply labels to others, they are just human to us.

There are certainly evil Muslims in the world, just as there are evil Christians and Hindus and people of all other religions. But the huge majority of them, just as the huge majority of humanity, are simply trying to live the best life they can.

The shame is that it takes people dying to remind us of that.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.