In every way possible, I sidestep politics and I go light on my consumption of news.
These things, I have grown to learn, hijack our souls and lock everything up in the head.
News and politics keep us locked in our heads because they offer reasons for things that do not deserve them. They assuage our pressing need for a definite answer despite the fact that answers become excuses. There is a place for these things, yes, but what I’m saying is that they are dumbing us down as humans.
I know that I’m being utopian to say all of this, but I don’t care.
Ask yourself, what have we have to loose to think outside the box about this stuff?
We get so locked in the strategy of it all, like it’s a television drama, especially if it isn’t happening in our backyards, or is it?
The world is shrinking, and different countries are holding hands under the big table to ensure that conflict, deaths of innocent people, bought-out media and political spin remain the normal way of life on this planet of ours.
In journalism school, I made a conscious choice to focus on science writing because I realized early on that writing about anything else, successfully, would be participating in the reactionary spin-out of information that’s largely divorced from historical context, the New Yorker, Harpers and a few other beloved journalists/publications notwithstanding.
As I move further down a spiritual path, I see more clearly that the news is just sliced-up daily, reactionary accounts that lock people in their heads and in the game of giving power where it’s not due. It’s up to all of us to realize this, to shift our minds into thinking independently, doing our own research, and allowing ourselves to open our hearts to the truth upon which these stories are all based.
What this actually means is that we stop thinking that we feel a certain way about the suffering of others—by letting news and politics seed every thought–and actually feel a certain way about it. To do this is to embark upon the greatest journey of all—from the head to the heart.
How do we get out of our heads and into our hearts about the conflicts in the world?
Well, the best way is to meet people in the midst of them and you open yourself to a genuine connection.
In December of last year, I had to take a quick flight from Qatar to Dubai. When checking in, I saw this little boy, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him, couldn’t believe how cute he was. Turning around, flirting in his baby-man, zip-up sweater, he looked for a long time at me, grinning. It wasn’t a stare, it was a look, and it was delightful. His mom was in an Abaya and his dad was carrying a bag upon which the word Syria was printed as part of the shop’s address.
As we had checked in for the same flight, I saw the boy in the waiting area for the plane. It was just him and his mom then, the father stayed in Qatar. We boarded the plane and the two ended up sitting close by. The plane was empty, so despite just fragmented bits of English language we had to work with, my gaze and smiles found them getting up to sit by me.
She asked me to use my phone to call her husband one last time, before takeoff. In Arabic, she said goodbye to him and put the phone at her son’s cheek so he could hear his dad too.
Over the course of the flight, I got to know her as Marwa, and her son as Hussein. Hussein and I played with miniature M&Ms—he offered some; I took one and gave the rest back. He offered more. I took another and gave the rest back, smiling all the while. And as we landed, he climbed on my lap to see the view. I fell in love with both of them.
In broken English and body language, Marwa informed me that she was sad that they had to leave not only her husband/his father, but the peaceful environment of Qatar. There are so many border and visa issues everywhere in the world.
Somehow there was an extra stop on the bus at the transfer terminal, usually there is just one stop and we all get off. Marwa quickly grabbed Hussein’s little wrist and lead him to the edge of the bus, they looked back. I waved goodbye and had a really, really hard time disguising my tears as just some routine sensitivity going on behind my sunglasses.
These latest mass killings in Syria have me thinking of Hussein and Marwa, all the time. They are burned in my brain.
It is not news to say that they matter. Everyone matters. That’s all I have to say.
Editor: Brianna Bemel