As the freezing spectators at time square’s infamous New Year’s ball drop recover from their hangovers millions of Americans are making their yearly resolutions. Fitness clubs, health food companies and retail stores offer special deals to those wanting to lose weight. People don patches, chew gum and read self help books to try and quit smoking.
For the rest of us, we are still trying to figure out how Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab got on a transcontinental flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day with a bomb concealed in his pants.
The thing to do when faced with a public crisis is to of course make light of the situation seen by how the media have nicknamed Mutallab as “The Underpants Bomber”. Apparently this is all a big joke to some people and another reason to attack Islam religion instead of the people that polluted the mind of this young man who was once so full of promise.
Things went downhill for Mutallab when he was a college student in Yemen and he began to have questions about his faith. Far from home with no one to turn to he began posting on an online forum with statements of loneliness, depression and self-doubt hoping that someone would read them.
Unfortunately the wrong people read them as unbeknownst to Mutallab the forum was actually a popular recruiting site of Muslim. The emotionally vulnerable student was exactly the type that extremists scout for, impressionable and open to suggestion.
The extremists soon wheedled their way into his life and their radical views become his own and replaced the values that his parents had taught him.
Westerners soon became the misplaced target of Mutallab’s hatred and by the time his family realized he had adopted these radical views it was too late. He had already made his way to Amsterdam and despite the empathetic warnings from his father to our government he was only put on a suspected terrorists list and nothing further was done.
Mutallab’s story did not make its way into this column as a sob story but wake up call for those quick to point the finger. Although the young man is solely responsible for his actions there is also another truth that at the same time cannot be ignored.
When we don’t take care of these children we endanger our own future and although it is a much repeated cliché the children are our future. Today’s lonely, depressed teenager could have a brilliant mind or an artistic hand that the world may never see because there was no one there to bring it out.
If you still haven’t made your New Year’s resolution then here is one for you: Get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone in one of your classes. Encourage that student alone in the corner to speak up or do group work.
The little things do make a difference in the life of someone because you never know who is really hurting deep inside.