The entire pagan community mourns this week for the death of a woman that most of us were unaware of until she was gone. Yana was a Syrian pagan who was brutally murdered by rebels after her own brother revealed to them that she was not Muslim. People all over the world, myself included, have been moved to tears by her terrible fate and some consider her a modern pagan martyr.
(Now comes the part where I piss people off.)
Something’s been bugging me.
I am horrified and grief stricken when I imagine what this poor woman went through. But my heart also breaks for the thousands of other people dying horribly in the clusterfuck that is today’s Syria, and in many other places around the world. People are being murdered in Syria because they are Christian, or Jewish, or not the right kind of Muslim. Women are killed because they aren’t dressed properly, or dare to be in public without a proper male escort. Or for any other reason they don’t conform with someone’s particular interpretation of Islam.
Why does the fact that Yana shared a label with me (and not even a religion, paganism being what it is) make her more important that them? Why is this what it takes to wake us up to the fact that people are dying over there?
We tend to empathize with others in direct proportion to how much they remind us of ourselves. But is that really empathy? Or some kind of reflected self-preservation instinct?
I don’t know. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. It’s a human thing.
I mourn for Yana. I pray that her Gods look after her soul.
I am not saying that her death was unimportant. I’m saying no one’s is.
If this horrible crime has awakened you to what is going on in the world, please use this knowledge well. Do something with it. Support Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross/Red Crescent or Amnesty International. Do whatever you can think of to make life a little better for those who aren’t as safe and privileged as you are.
- In Memory: Yana – PNC Minnesota
- Standing as Pagans, In Yana’s Name – T. Thorn Coyle, on Patheos
- Pax, pax! clamatur; sed pax per bella paratur – The House of Vines
- Priorities – The House of Vines
- Hail Sister! – Fiercely Bright One