12 years after 9/11, the Boston Bombings have me wondering again what more I could have done to help those injured from a terrorist attack. You see, I was in World Trade Center when 9/11 happened (after the first plane hit the Tower to be exact), and that day would forever change my life. I remember walking on Manhattan’s FDR drive for hours trying to escape from the devastation downtown, seeing the 2nd Tower fall, and how happiness and smiles were stolen from us for a long time after the event.
I felt the same level of helplessness when I heard about the Boston bombings. I spent the happiest days of my life at MIT and in Boston, in fact, I met my husband there. It’s painful to see people and places you love suffer. And just like 9/11 when I wanted to drive straight back to Ground Zero to help those who were suffering, I wanted to be in Boston, even in the mist of gunfire and chaos to be with the Bostonians, to be in pain with them.
I heart MIT Police
My experience with the MIT police goes way back, many years ago, to when I was invited to a pre-rush event to check out the school before applying. Given how nerdy I was, I decided to study at the MIT Library after all the pre-rush social events were over. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself locked inside the closed Library in the dark pre-dawn hours. My savior? The MIT Campus Police. I called them from a phone inside the Library, and moments later, an MIT campus police officer showed up. I was afraid I was going to get a lecture from an annoyed campus cop for sleeping in the library. However, the officer was very friendly to me and was just concerned about my well-being and safety. He got me out of the library, and escorted me to where I was staying until he was sure that I was safe.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted at MIT, and over the next four years, campus police continued to be there for me. The police officers were there to comfort my friends and me when a friend of ours committed suicide on campus; they were there to escort me home when I studied on campus until the wee hours of the night.
I always felt protected by the MIT campus police and I love them.
There is no reason why an MIT police officer should be murdered this way. No reason.
Travel to Understand
After 9/11, my husband and I decided to travel the world. One of the main reasons for that is to broaden our understanding of the other cultures and their way of living.
I remember how nervous I was being in a Muslim country for the first time in my life. I remember how uncomfortable it felt to be inside a madrasa (Koran school). “Surely, all Muslims hate us.” “All the Muslims want to kill us.” Those were the thoughts that ran through my head when I was there.
But now I know how ridiculous those thoughts were. Just like not all Americans hate Muslims, not all Muslims hate Americans. I felt welcomed when I visited Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco (and I have to admit, the prayer calls were soothing), and I felt safe when I was inside the madrasa.
A few words
To the Americans, please do not blame the Muslims for the Boston bombings. It’s not the Muslims who did this. It’s the crazy people who don’t understand Americans, never seek to understand, and are too lazy to find out themselves, because it’s so much easier to just follow what someone else told you to think rather than thinking on your own.
To the Muslims, please understand we hold no bad will towards your faith. We don’t want to harm you.
To the citizens of the world, please be tolerant of all our differences. If you don’t understand, seek first to understand before you judge. And the way to understand is to experience it yourself firsthand. Don’t solely rely on your religious leaders to tell you what to think. They are not God; they are just the messengers of God, and as they are humans, they can be wrong too! Seek out the answers on your own. There is no easier way.
Travel. Travel with an open heart and mind. You will be surprised how many times you were mistaken about the other cultures.
Rest in Peace Officer Sean Collier
And finally, to Officer Sean Collier, we never crossed paths and I wish we had. You should know that you were part of a community that is as diverse as the rest of world, a community that values equality and justice and opportunity for all. Your life meant something to the MIT community and to me. You will never be forgotten and thank you for your service!