The choice between what is right and what is easy

By Syeda Rumana Mehdi on

Yesterday, I talked to a dear friend who is currently looking for an immigration lawyer that can help her re-enter the States so that she can return to continue her undergraduate studies in Vermont. I was numb after the call; I had never realized that this was going to be so personal.


I learnt that whatever is going on is personal but that no one is alone. And the crowd of nearly two hundred people at the general meeting of the CNY Solidarity Coalition yesterday proved just that. This overwhelming turnout was a beacon of hope for hundreds of others who are too scared to come out, too afraid to know what will happen next.


Being a student of Conflict Resolution, I’ve always been in favor of peaceful resistance and strategic means of resolving conflicts. One thing that I had not known until yesterday was that while the peaceful resistance of a single individual can make a difference, the peaceful resistance of hundreds and thousands can move mountains. As I write this, the masses are questioning the evils of racism and misogyny, the power of human rights and the importance of protecting the vulnerable. It is both immensely exciting and scary to know that the wheels have been set in motion and that the revolution has begun.


After a quick introduction of the Coalition and its long standing members, the attendees then divided into smaller groups. The workshops that were conducted included a poster and button making station, a conversation on the importance and need for sanctuary cities and a guide on how to get in touch with state senators and their representatives. Most of the participants then proceeded to Hancock International Airport to protest against the unjust ban of immigrants from selected countries.


The meeting of the CNY Solidarity Coalition stirred up a lot in me. I was reminded of the formation of Dumbledore’s Army in Harry Potter- where a group of young students came together and trained themselves to stand against dictatorial oppression of Ministry of Magic. Just like Harry’s firm faith in truth, justice and friendship won over Voldemort’s greed, selfishness and self-obsession, we too hope to rise stronger than ever. We are like nails; each hammer blow makes us stronger. As the legendary Urdu poet, Habib Jalib aptly said:


Aur sab bhool gaye harf-e-sadaqat likhna

Reh gaya kaam humara hee baghawat likhna

Kuch bhi kehtay hein, kahein Shah k musahib Jalib

Rang rakhna yehi apna, isi soorat likhna


Everyone else forgot how to write the word of truth

It was left to me to write of dissent and disobedience

Whatever the king’s companions may say O Jalib

Maintain this color of yours and write as you do.


Syeda Rumana Mehdi