Image courtesy of the Telegraph
I'm on a road trip in the U.S. to give lectures about the serious situation in the Middle East. Today, the US is choking with anger and sadness. Today, the whole country is talking about Kayla Mueller. Few knew her, but today everyone feels like she was a part of their life; a 26 year old woman from Arizona who was kidnapped by ISIL over a year ago. The terrorists now claim that their prisoner was killed in one of the Jordanian flight attacks. Nobody believes them. Everyone believes she died at the hands her captors. Before she was killed, she wrote a letter which was smuggled out by other kidnap victim, whose high ransom was paid.
In a heart-wrenching letter she begs her loved ones to forgive her for horrible stress she's put them all through as a result of her capture. She also writes that she doesn't want them to give up the "fight for the good".
It's the letter, the press conference with her relatives and pictures of her with her deep brown eyes and infectious smile that has seized the attention of an entire nation. There is even talk that the U.S. might send in ground troops.
A man is sitting next to me. "The good will always win", he says spontaneously when he catches me reading Kayla Mueller's letter.
I put the paper down. In a couple of minutes I learn that he is a teacher in an elementary school here in Boston. "We just need to pass it on". He lifts his sweater to reveal a scar, the result of surgery to give away a kidney, as an "anonymous donor". He tells me he has wanted to "do good", to make a positive contribution to the world for some time. When he saw on TV that there was an urgent need of kidney donors, he contacted a local hospital. Four months later, the family man with a mortgage and a car loan, gave away his kidney. The wife of the man who received the teacher's kidney decided to donate her kidney, to "pass it on".
Last week I updated my Facebook status to tell the story of an woman from Syria who had become stranded in Tanzania. The smugglers, who had promised to take her to Europe, had failed. Instead she was arrested and sent to Istanbul. From Turkey she was sent back to Tanzania. She had fled from Aleppo, Syria after her husband was kidnapped and many non-Muslims were slaughtered. Their family belongs to the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac ethnicity. She is a dentist; her husband is a doctor. This made them extra vulnerable. Her 4-year-old son witnessed his mother's torture inside the Turkish prison after her arrest.
An hour after reading my status, Sumer Homeh, an aid-worker in Kenya, contacted me and offered to help the woman in Tanzania. So did a priest in Los Angeles, some German youngsters working in immigration, a doctor in Portugal -- the list is long. Today the woman in Tanzania has a new lease on life. The aid-worker from Kenya, Sumer, flew to Tanzania after we collected money for the trip. She became a coordinator for the help that came from all around the world.
Kayla Mueller is not dead. The good doesn't die. She went to Syria although she knew it was dangerous; she wanted to help people in need. She is a hero, just like Sumer, the teacher who donated his kidney to a stranger and everyone else who's fighting terrorism and evil. We just have to remember to pass it on.