Remona AlyTuesday 24 October 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2
Looking for hope after despair
As you know, it’s been a heavy few weeks with the utterly bleak news coming out from the Middle East.
My heart feels like it’s in the eye of a storm, fiercely tossed on the waves of devastation we’ve all been witnessing.
It’s unbearable to see the horrors inflicted on the children and all the people of Gaza, entire families wiped out in seconds. Those Palestinians facing the rubble of trauma, already weakened by occupation and blockades for decades, generations denied basic human rights.
I felt sickened to the core at the atrocities against Israeli civilians and I’m still shaking for the hostages. The fear and distress is unimaginable.
My newsfeeds are overwhelming and relentless. I worry they can push us further into a corridor of pain and despair, urging rage that vies for every inch of our souls.
While I think anger is a natural response, I remind myself not to let it consume. I must allow space for moments of relief. For humanity and hope. I want to move away from a dangerous divisive path that leaves no room for empathy, justice or progress towards peace.
Tensions are deepening at home and across the world. I’m disturbed and frightened over the sharp surge in antisemitism. I’m disturbed and frightened at the surge in anti-Muslim sentiment.
I desperately want an end to this vicious cycle. I desperately want a miracle.
The other day, I set my alarm to wake up in the darkest part of the night that comes before the dawn. In Islam, it’s a sacred time to pray. I raised my hands for every innocent soul. Pleading for some kind of resolution to all this. Pleading for freedom, justice and security for all.
I cling to the words of Rumi, the 13th century Muslim poet and scholar, who said, “There is hope after despair, and many suns after darkness.”
I see suns rising within people who bravely, vulnerably reach out to share each other’s pain, like Jewish and Muslim women holding vigils side by side. I see suns rising in the aid workers risking their lives to serve the dispossessed. And I see suns rising in the changemakers of all beliefs and backgrounds, striving for solutions publicly as well as behind the scenes.