This is the life we’re living

There are no words to describe it. The absolute horror of it all defies description. What do you say in the face of such wanton taking of life? How do you come to terms with such complete and utter evil? There is no emotion weighty enough to capture the magnitude of the Garissa massacre – except maybe despair. The deepest, darkest despair.

And yet many of us have found the words. Scores took to social media to make their voices heard. In the clamour to show concern after the vicious acts of terror at the Garissa University College, many regurgitated the over-used #WeAreOne hashtag, as if an outward display of unity was somehow an acceptable answer to the tragic turn of events.

I say over-used for two reasons: One, the fact that we have a catchphrase to quickly sum up our collective grief is evidence that we have had too much to grieve over. And two, chiming in with a well-intentioned #TukoPamoja does not make it so. We are just as fractured we were before Al-Shabaab first set its sights on us. In fact, their cowardly acts are designed to fit snugly into the cracks of our divided society.

Rather than spew empty epithets in times of war, we should seek out unity and pursue it single-mindedly in times of peace.

The rush to express solidarity with the victims, their families and fellow Kenyans on social media and elsewhere, seemed like a competition for some. Many of the condolence messages I read rang hollow. It is as if we now recite words of comfort by rote, so that we are seen to be compassionate rather than actually feeling compassion.

When we don’t accompany our words with actions, it becomes very clear that we don’t care enough. After Westgate, people donated money, food, clothing, time and even blood. Litres and litres of blood. Kenyans – leaders and wananchi alike – quite literally gave life.

But this time around the response has been muted, this despite the sheer magnitude of the attack. Just by the numbers alone, the Garissa massacre was much worse than the attack on Westgate.

That many of us are paying lip service while withholding meaningful action is perhaps an indicator of the class divide in a country where all men are created equal, but rich men are more equal than others.

Tuesday marked the last day of national mourning for the 148 souls who were violently ejected from this realm and shoved into the next by the sheer force of evil. For everyone who was genuinely affected by the tragedy and its implications for the future of our nation, these have been dark days.

It has not been easy to find a suitable response to the attack. Many have called on friends and family to pray. I noted with interest a comment on a Facebook post that had encouraged Kenyans to get on their knees and pray. To paraphrase: “I don’t get this prayer thing. Does it mean that if you don’t pray then god does nothing?”

Good question. Where is God when bad things happen? And must we continually ask for redemption or be doomed? Well, I really can’t say. But I do know this. You can either do nothing (where nothing includes pontificating on social media for the benefit of your friends and followers) or you can pray. Short of taking up arms to defend our motherland, there is little else we can do as citizens to fortify our nationhood, so that even the gates of hell itself will not prevail against