Who is listening?
The alarm goes off on my mobile phone and I touch ‘stop.’ I pick it up. I hesitate. Do I check the headlines? Do I gently touch the square? Should I? Can’t it wait? Assailed so early in the morning… I hesitate. And then I do – because after all I have family members in conflict zones.
I see crying children, another hit on a hospital in Syria, carnage in Baghdad, more refugees drowned in the Mediterranean sea, famine in South Sudan, fighting raging in Yemen, the Islamic State getting a stronger grip on Libya while Europe considers more arm sales, another blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh, children at the US-Mexican border, another person profiled and interrogated this time for doing math on a US flight, more hateful speeches…
I get up with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes. My morning routine goes on with Chi Kung and meditation. I look inside of me and I see darkness. I can’t find the light as images of war assail me. I see the tears and the dust. Each child, mother, person… I smell that iron of blood mixed with shelling, and take in the desperate look of the disoriented. I pray, I wish, I cry. All in silence.
I make breakfast and the little one wakes up and I smile. I see him as he approaches me, kisses my hand and gently says ‘sabah al khair mama’ (good morning in Arabic). I kiss him a little longer than usual, hug him a little tighter, and say nothing when he puts too much Nutella on his waffle.
Where did we go wrong?
What is this world? Where are we all going? Are we supposed to just go on and live as though nothing is happening? Will we ever take our coffee without a pang in the heart?
So what do we do?
Put another article with pictures of mutilated children on the Facebook timeline? Look at the video of a refugee crying and cry with her? Change our profile picture with a photo-shopped one of two kids, one with a Kippa, the other one with a Keffayah, embracing? And then what?
Who is listening?
‘The crowd is fickle,’ Roman dictators used to say. ‘The world is a village,’ the modern liberal notion states.
So how come we can still hate our neighbours for being from another nationality, religion, ethnic group or simply because she is a woman? How come barbarians can roam freely in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria, and no one is doing anything about it except, perhaps, to answer with more destruction? How come hospitals and schools can be shelled, and no one listens to the humanitarian imperative? How come individuals are being singled out just because they have a different name or a different face? How come people are still allowed to die of hunger and disease, while half of the world’s wealth is controlled by 1% of the world population?
War has been a constant in the history of humanity. There is nothing new. My sadness springs from the fact that I always thought that humanity is meant to go forward, that technology and the world’s knowledge at one’s fingertips, and all that talk about a ‘small village’ would teach us not to de-humanise the Other.
And then I see a headline in the Courier International, about some obscure company that managed to raise 300 million US dollars on line for developing a new product that will help you sleep. Some sort of out of this world little grey ball with holes, special light and white sound. I think, I saw this number or a multiple of it somewhere? Ah yes, South Sudan, where UNHCR is raising the alarm as only 8% of its budget is covered, leaving it with about 200 million USD gap to help some 800,000 refugees and two million displaced people. Almost three million people for the price of less than it takes to develop a device to help the an over-caffeinated society sleep better.
This is insane! Is anyone listening?
So what do we do?
I used to think that it starts small. It starts with being true. It starts with doing good around us. It starts with being thankful. It starts with a smile. It starts with ethical living, in all its dimension. It starts small and it grows big. I don’t know any more. I have hope. I just can’t always find it anymore. It seems I lost it somewhere between my heart and my mind. I should be able to find it in the smile of my seven year old son. But it seems like just a balm that helps me get through the day. Then I think – others have children too… And yet, look at the world.
So now I will have that cup of coffee with a pang in my heart. What gives me some hope is that I am still a very patient person. Maybe that is the answer. Patience and a little gentleness. You tell me.
But hey … who is listening?