Rais Bhuiyan: A man of peace
Poise and calmness accompanied Rais Bhuiyan as he approached the podium and he serenely gazed at the audience before expressing his understanding of hate and his passion for world peace.
A professional in the field of computer technology and founder of the World Without Hate organization, Bhuiyan spoke on Wednesday afternoon to an audience of roughly 70 people at DePauw University's Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.
He discussed his experience as a victim of a violent hate crime, while explaining his journey as an educator of peace, and articulating ways to establish a world without hate. Bhuiyan confidently began his lecture with some words of advice.
"A world without hate is not achieved unless a world without hate is achieved in our own heart and mind," Bhuiyan said. "And to achieve that, we have to overcome our fear and ignorance."
To ensure the crowd had a clear understanding of the hate crimes that Bhuiyan was mentioning, he gave a detailed description of a personal experience. On Sept. 21, 2001 Bhuiyan became the victim of a hate crime. White supremacist Mark Stroman shot him in the face with a double-barrel shotgun, leaving him partially blind in his right eye.
"I felt a sensation of a million bees stinging my face," Bhuiyan said. "And then I heard an explosion. When I looked down at the floor, I saw blood pouring like an open faucet from the right side of my head," he said.
It was this incident that changed Bhuiyan's life and motivated him to start his journey of spreading peace and forgiveness. He emphasized the importance of these concepts, candidly sharing his value for them.
"I forgive him because what he did was out of his ignorance, out of his hate," Bhuiyan said. "If he was wise enough, if he could differentiate between right and wrong, I believe he would have done that," he said.
According to Bhuiyan, Stroman received the death penalty. Although he was sentenced to be executed, Bhuiyan started a campaign to save Stroman's life. He said violence cannot be justified by violence.
"I suffered terribly, but I didn't want him to suffer," Bhuiyan said. "I looked at him as a human being, like you, like all of you. I realized from my own experience that life is precious, and every life has a lot of potential. Let him live, killing is not the solution."
Bhuiyan's campaign motivated thousands of people, from all over the world, to support Stroman in his battle against his sentence to death. Though the movement did not successfully save Stroman's life, Bhuiyan's belief in world peace was spread around the world and gained many followers.
Bhuiyan used his personal experience as a victim of a hate crime to express the value of peace and the negative effects hate can have on the world.
"Hate is a negative energy in your body," Bhuiyan said. "But if you forgive you will feel that you have dropped a big load from your shoulders, like a backpack has dropped off your shoulders" he said.
Sophomore Max Guenther perceived the speech to be influential.
"The message he presents is very strong," he said. "I think it can be a very good way to solve conflicts nationally and internationally. Overall it's something society should try to implement into their everyday lives."
The members of the audience appeared to be moved by what Bhuiyan had to say.
"A natural instinct is to have hatred in your heart," said sophomore Crystal Ramdas. "For Rais to come out of his way to teach others that peace isn't just about relieving hate, pain, or violence through revenge, that it's about forgiveness, is a testament of the goodness that still exists in people."
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