Eid Mubarak (sort of)

When I was a little boy the only thing I wanted for Eid were new clothes, books and chocolate. If I’m being honest, not much has changed. Even though I had to work for most of this Eid, it was nice to see the city come to a serene stand still that I associate with families spending time together at home.

For most of us, whether we observe Eid, Christmas or any of the other countless religious celebrations out there, the holidays somehow held more meaning when we were children. The latest toy, copious amounts of candy and chocolates, spending time with loved ones or running wild for the day was enough to keep us content and carefree. This isn’t the case anymore. I’m not sure if that’s because as children simple things made us happier or the world itself was actually a simpler place.

The term, ‘back then, when I was young…’ feels ill fitting to say. I am still young I tell myself, the world shouldn’t have changed so much, so quickly. But it has. Everything is much more complicated then it was even five years ago when I compare it to my own childhood 25 years ago. The reasons for this are too long and complicated within themselves to list and explain. Putting aside our means of communication, gadgets and modes of travel and lifestyle, the structure and nature of wars and the increase of them has alarmingly taken over the fabric of our lives. Maybe wars haven’t increased but our awareness of what’s happening around the world has become more acute, especially for those of us who aren’t interested in politics and have never experienced the terrors of war.

Where the truth is not only stranger than fiction but much more terrifying, vague and unpredictable, the world has turned into a film reel projecting on to our television sets, computer screens and newsfeeds, sequel after sequel of a sick horror film where the mass murder continuously returns from the dead in different and more advanced forms. In return, we are becoming more shocked and at the same time more desensitized to these atrocities and crimes against humanity. Nope, that could never happen to us, we think, it could only happen to them, because they live there, they believe that. But still, it’s wrong, it’s sad, let me share this on my newsfeed, it might help.

During this Ramadan I have questioned many of the faults of my character. I have tested myself and failed, become more enlightened and mostly, though it isn’t as immediate as taking action, I have reflected a lot. The last week of Ramadan, was devastating for Muslims the world over. From more than 250 Muslims slaughtered in four cities, to the current refugee crises and the ongoing situation in Syria, anyone from any background or belief system can agree that these injustices can’t and shouldn’t be tolerated. Yet, here we are, searching for reasons, defending ourselves, waiting for recognition thanking God that it wasn’t us.

These circumstances, particularly the latest bombings during Ramadan in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Bangladesh and Madinah, have made it particularly difficult to fast, break fast and celebrate Eid without feeling ignorant, helpless and guilty. I’m not one for overt political statements and there is so much that is being discussed and analyzed out there by people who are far superior in knowledge than I am. I can only relay what I understand and what is true to my experiences. And what I understand is this:

I remember one particular Eid when I was seven, I was obsessed with getting a parrot. I don’t know why but I wanted one that would sit on my shoulder, a parrot that I could train to talk and fetch me things. I imagined writing secret notes that I’d tie to his claw and he would fly off to friends I didn’t have in distant mythical lands. It was a stupid request that my parents, thankfully, to my great disappointment didn’t indulge me in.

Not getting a parrot should be the maximum measure of disappointment and misery a child should experience. It is every child’s right to want and imagine ridiculous unattainable things, to live in their own fantasy which includes, parrots, dragons, princesses in towers, flying carpets and wars…not real wars, not real explosions, not real devastation, not real loss, and certainly not real death. This is what my mind reverts to every time I see another headline, the countless childhoods scared by these events forever. The ripples of what’s happened to them and what’s not being done, rightly, by them and their families will be the mark our generation leaves behind. It will sadly be what we are remembered for.

It is one of the hardest things to make sense of what’s happening around us and then to try to take action, to contribute positively by more than just posting a status on Facebook or sharing an article. There are many that are trying and some are even succeeding.

So, this Eid I hope that in my own way, in the days to come I can use my own skill set and talents to try and understand, learn and take action through small gestures or bigger projects that contribute positively to the global discussions that need to take place to help the people who have and are suffering. Through education, entertainment, awareness, through books and documentaries, through research and literature, through the simple act and right we have to ask questions, I hope that I can better help teach myself and educate others on how we can understand, connect with one another and help those who can’t help themselves. And I welcome you to do the same.

Eid Mubarak.

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