It is the morning of August 6th, 2012 and the last 24 hours have been nothing less than a roller coaster-a day for which I cannot find a fitting label. The day preceding this moment has been filled with an array of emotions both terrible and amazing.
Heartbreak, defeat, and hopelessness-these painful emotions came in the aftermath of the tragic loss of seven lives in Oak Creek, Wisconsin where a man opened gunfire on other unarmed Americans wounding many more than he killed at their house of worship, a Gurdwara. The FBI, after some investigation considers this an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime. Growing up in a post-segregated, post-9/11 society I have lulled into thinking that we were beyond that, but these shootings immediately evoked sadness in me and reminded me that regardless of how much it seems we’ve progressed, the slide backwards can be quick and painful.
In the hours following the shooting I was greatly troubled because I was confused by my America. I thought to myself, have we retreated from acceptance and celebrating diversity? Is the era of a black president a facade? Are these battles for social tolerance losing?
I pondered these questions until 1:31AM where I found my answer in the near impossible space mission of NASA, landing a spacecraft named Curiosity on Mars. After watching this amazing accomplishment, a sure product of American ingenuity and perseverance, I am reminded what my mother and my country taught me as a child: even though we face great odds we are entirely capable of victory if we work hard, if we work smart, and if we work diligently. The more I thought about it I remembered that we are a nation that has survived the Civil War, slavery and the Jim Crow era, the denial of a right to vote, world wars, the Cold War, and 9/11.
This is a country that has been built from the ground up with the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears of many people from many countries and an array of colors. The struggle forward is long and hard and it will be just that- a struggle, but seeing Curiosity land and watching my fellow Americans on the internet cheering from a space center far away from me warmed my heart with the pride and power of America- it evoked proud emotions for the progress of our country. In deep anguish from the events earlier today I watched Curiosity land and remembered that America’s darkest days have always been followed by its finest hours.
My prayers go out to the victims and families of the devastating attacks. We stand united.