You have to hold your kids closer, smell their scent for a few seconds longer, let your fingers linger in their hair. Thinking of a place where life is cheap and frail souls are extinguished every minute. Thinking of what it must be like for everyone there, but especially the mothers.
To see your child suffer while you watch hands at your sides, powerless to relieve their pain or hunger, is something most of us have never experienced. I go about my comfortable life knowing out there in the expanse of human consciousness are people, mothers, children crying out in terrified agony on amidst the bombing, trembling earth, and stray bullets. These soul-shaking cries call out everyday, and in many places of the world, but I am more aware of it today. The silence of my living room echoes with their voices.
I try to patch the ripped consciousness of my lazy day, to look away, to forget. The humiliation of having nothing to give them is too much. Shame. Weakness. I cannot bear to watch the dehumanization of a people but I also must not look away.
I can think of only feeble gestures to help—donating to relief organizations that give aid indirectly for fear of being branded terrorists, standing at demonstrations that no one sees or hears, appealing to representatives who do not care, writing to a media that propagates a language that does not recognize innocent casualties, talking to people with a collective memory so short that they are like babies spoon-fed poisoned information. It feels better to do nothing than to do something, satan whispers in my heart. He soothes the disgrace with indifference and gives me a counterfeit license to feel good again.
Although we grapple with the indifference, the shame, the powerlessness, we cannot allow every last battle to be lost, even the ones in our hearts. Edmund Burke said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.” And we know that even if our efforts counted for nothing in the scope of world events, Allah is the witness and allows no deed to go uncounted.
If anything, I must continue to work and fight for Gaza to save my own soul, to forbid myself from being comfortable with apathy and to keep my heart tender before Allah. I’ll stand in the rain at those sparse, Houston demonstrations in front of an empty consulate. I will write a letter that I know will never be read. In every prayer, raise my hands for a few seconds before the last sujood in supplication to ease the pain and end the suffering of Gaza. Maybe if every Muslim takes those sad, small, useless steps, Allah will raise our ranks, cleanse our sins, and open for us the door to more.
After all, whoever said victory would come at our hands? Our job is to get to work in the best way we can muster. Relief will come only from the skies.