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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Remembering Karim Abou Najm and David Henry Breaux

The Editorial Board grieves with the community after recent stabbing incidents, including two homicides

 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 

It has been a distressing week as Davis residents grieve the unexpected deaths of Karim Abou Najm and David Henry Breaux. At the time this article was written, a third stabbing victim was in critical condition. The Editorial Board would like to take this time to acknowledge who Najm and Breaux were and how important they were to the Davis community. As more news continues to develop, it’s understandable to be caught up in the uncertainty, but as you read headlines, it’s important to remember that the victims were real people with real lives. We need to help support one another in the community as we experience these tragedies.

Najm was a 20 year-old, fourth-year computer science major set to graduate from UC Davis this quarter. He was a hard-working student and member of the University Honors Program. Throughout his time at Davis, he contributed to research that helps the community of undergraduate students. 

In his second year at Davis, Najm had helped develop Cornische, a student startup network for undergraduate researchers. Cornische functions to help student researchers receive fair pay and incentives for their work. In 2022, the startup won the $500 People’s Choice Award that was sponsored by Blackstone LaundPad. Najm’s accomplishments were the result of his hard work, and his contributions to UC Davis will forever be remembered.

According to the Davis Enterprise, Najm had recently received an award for his software project that would aid people with auditory deficiencies. He has been described as loving and intelligent by his father, and he enjoyed playing Dungeons & Dragons with the DRAGON club at UC Davis. 

The community is also mourning the death of Breaux, who was affectionately known as the “Compassion Guy.” Breaux was a 50-year-old Stanford graduate who spent his time asking people what compassion meant to them. He dedicated his life to answering this question, even publishing a book of his interviews. Maybe not everyone in Davis knew the name David Henry Breaux, but if you were to ask someone, “Who is the Compassion Guy?” there would be plenty of responses. 

Breaux is often recognized for his work on the “Compassion Bench” near the farmers market; he’d welcome people to speak with him or just sit and rest on the bench. Through these regular interactions with residents and students, he touched many lives.

It’s also worth mentioning that Breaux and the third stabbing victim were unhoused people. These crimes serve as a reminder of the responsibility we have to protect and support unhoused people in our city. A GoFundMe page has been created to help provide pepper spray and whistles for unhoused people in the area that we encourage you to donate to if you can.

In honor of Breux and the other victims of the recent crimes, the Editorial Board wanted to take the time to share what compassion means to us:

 

Sophie Dewees — Editor-in-Chief

The dictionary definition of compassion is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others,” but my personal definition is quite different. Compassion, to me, is unrelated to misfortune or suffering; it is a practice that we can use to better the world around us. We demonstrate compassion by acknowledging that everyone has had different life experiences and that our understanding of the world may be different from others’, respecting others’ opinions and valuing their contributions and, above all, caring for all living things, from the fluffy ducklings in the Arboretum to the poppies blooming by the side of the road to people, even if they’re strangers.

 

Katie DeBenedetti — Managing Editor

To me, compassion is being aware of what someone else might be going through and doing what you can, when you can, to help.

 

Sonora Slater — Campus News Editor

On Monday morning, with fears about the second homicide in less than a week swirling around my mind, I ordered a chocolate croissant at the CoHo. The girl working the cashier (who I didn’t know) went to the display case, picked one up, set it down, and picked up another before putting it in a bag. Handing it to me, she conspiratorially whispered, “I made sure to give you the best one.” This sort of small kindness, springing not from any obligation, but only from the desire to make a stranger smile on a hard day, is the definition of compassion for me. 

 

Chris Ponce — City News Editor

There are many right answers to this question, but to me, the act of compassion is authentically and attentively listening to someone. 

 

Owen Ruderman — Opinion Editor

I see compassion as synonymous with empathy and human connection. Compassionate people have the ability to accept and help those around them — they understand that we are all in this together.

 

Levi Goldstein — Features Editor

Compassion is extending kindness and understanding to everyone, even if they are different from you, and especially those whom society deems outcasts. They are human, too, and in a world that rarely shows them any empathy, they need compassion the most. 

 

Clara Fischer — Arts & Culture Editor 

The most critical component of compassion is being kind to and patient with people, even if you don’t necessarily understand them. 

 

Marlon Rolon — Sports Editor

Compassion is helping others who are in need, and that can be in many ways. 

 

Brandon Ngyuen — Science & Tech Editor

Compassion is the ability to recognize someone who is hurting or going through a tough time, and to take action to help them, even if it means just listening and being there for them.

 

Written by: The Editorial Board