I was volunteering at a science event in a children’s museum on the morning of November 9th. While I was eager to help out, I thought about how much easier it would have been to just sleep in. It was, after all, the first free weekend I had in a while. I could not imagine that while I was giving these children robot activity books, across the world, other children were breathing for the last time. They had to watch in horror, as giant, unforgiving waves swept away their homes and family members.
It was a late Saturday afternoon and I had been up since seven in the morning. In a hurry, I had eaten only half a bowl of cereal for breakfast and one small slice of pizza for lunch. The supervisor of my team had ordered pizza for us earlier in the morning, but the pizza came more than two hours late, and I was simply starving by the time lunch arrived. Unfortunately, it turned out that my supervisor had only ordered cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza so by the time I was finished with my first slice, there was only pepperoni left. I was disappointed that there was no more pizza that I could eat.
I left the children’s museum feeling pretty lousy. It wasn’t until later that I realized how trivial my day had been. That afternoon, my mom told me about the typhoon in Philippines as we were driving home. “It happened today?” I asked. “Where? In Philippines?” I had never thought much about the country before and was even doubtful about its place on the map. Suddenly, my stomach turned at the destruction that had taken place.
I rushed indoors, feeling extremely grateful for everything I had that morning, including the tiny slice of pizza. I had an intense desire to grab my baby six-year-old sister and wrap her up in my arms, never letting go. When I left the museum that day, I had a home and family to come back to and food to eat to nourish my hunger, while millions of people in Philippines were suddenly left homeless, starving, and some having lost loved ones.
Such tragedies around the world should remind us to be grateful and that our belongings can be taken from us at any moment. We should show our gratitude by doing our best to help our fellow suffering human beings. Allah reminds us in the Qu’ran about dealing with tragedy:
“And to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity
And throughout all periods of panic.
Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” (2:177)
I realized that we cannot stop tragedies from occurring, but that we can always choose the right attitude. Even though I was worried about my father who was leaving for the typhoon-damaged country that week to lead Zakat Foundation relief efforts, I realized the importance of helping others during this difficult time.
(Attention, writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You’re welcome to send in your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.)