Lord, let me be a panda

Aman Ali's view

These past few weeks I’ve been citing examples of people getting too much coverage in the news. But last weekend I couldn’t complain when the world mourned the death of Pope John Paul II (or as I like to call him, Pope John Paul “The Remix”). After reading obituary after obituary, I began to admire the Pope’s activism for the Catholic Church and his influence in the world abroad. I began to wonder how many people I could think of that could mirror the Pope’s dedication to his work.

But I’m not writing this as an obituary for the Pope. My boy Tony Cox already wrote one in the Stater Monday, and even if you didn’t catch that, obituaries have been running on every news network. Instead, I reflect on the Pope’s death to point out hypocrisy among us all.

Upon hearing the news last Friday that the Pope was in dying, news networks filled the skies as they rushed their reporters to the Vatican. Crowds began flooding the city awaiting the Catholic Church to confirm the Pope’s death. Maybe I’m looking too much into this, but one minute the world is counting down the Pope’s death as if the Pope was the giant ball on New Year’s Eve. The very next minute when he dies, the whole world cries and prays for the Pope. Monday, NPR reported that an estimated two to three million individuals had flocked to the Vatican to mourn his death. The Washington Post indicated churches here in the United States saw surges in turnout too.

But where were these turnout surges before the Pope died? Who remained proud to be Catholic during the gay priest scandals and child molestation accusations in the church? Now that the Pope died, it’s cool to be Catholic again?

Granted, I am a Muslim, so I have as much street credibility on this subject as Mary-Kate Olsen does on pie-eating contests. But I bring up this situation with the Pope to engage a peaceful dialogue about us all. It reminds me of 31:32 in my holy book, the Qur’an, that says: “And when a wave covers them like shades, they invoke and pray to God. But when he brings them safe to land, there are those among them who stop in belief.” Numerous verses regarding this subject are in the Bible and Torah as well.

Don’t get me wrong though, I am not here to preach. I am simply a Cheerio in the cereal box that we call life. I am not here to debate religion.

It just makes me wonder why it takes a major crisis for people to support one another. Who supported ending Syria’s occupation of Lebanon before the death of Rafik Al-Hariri? Where was the outcry against the Syrian government when former President Hafez Al-Assad massacred over 20,000 people in the city of Hamma in the 1980s? The list goes on.

Perhaps it’s just human nature for man to react to crises. But if it’s not human nature to support each other simply out of the kindness of our own hearts, then I’m filling out an application to be a panda. I don’t have any legitimate reasons to be a panda, but I really wish I was one. Pandas kick ass.


Aman Ali is a junior information design major, president of the Muslim Students Association and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].