Dear friends,

I have been taking some time out to process and more deeply understand the conflict in Gaza. When reflecting on how I might act – what small thing I could do – I have found myself caught up in a tangle. It is easy to get mired in the complexity of this crisis and paralysed by the fear of somehow doing or saying the ‘wrong’ thing. 

I feel that in recent years I have internalised a lot of the division in the world through spending too much time on social media. This leaves me feeling immobilised and nervous, afraid of speaking out and somehow causing offence, afraid of supporting a cause or organisation that has some malign hidden element with a suspect agenda, afraid of being exposed as ignorant. And, like many of us, I have often felt powerless and impotent to the point of despair. This is helpful to the powers that be because it makes me a passive and non-disruptive citizen.

I read a quotation by Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “Hopelessness is a form of silence, of denying the world and fleeing from it.”

I also read this blog by the Buddhist mindfulness teacher and psychologist Tara Brach: ‘What is love asking from us?”. In it she wrote:

“My heart knows that I need to keep connecting inwardly, so I’m aware of habitual fears and biases, and intimate with loss and grief. When there’s an awake tender presence with my inner life, there’s a natural compassion and feeling of belonging with other beings.”

Last night I found myself turning to music that helped me to meditate on peace. I put together a mix of tracks and spent time in quietness. It struck me that it would be helpful for me, and perhaps others, to have a collective meditation of this kind.

With this in mind, I have uploaded an hour-long mix of conscious soul music called Cry out for Peace (named after a favourite song of mine by Misty in Roots) as an offering to those who might take something from it.

It may be that you want to listen to the mix alone at a time that suits you and use the music as an anchor for your own reflection.

But for those who would benefit from a collective experience I am going to suggest that we simply listen to the piece together this Tuesday 9th Jan at 8.30pm GMT. All you need to do is find a quiet place to meditate and listen in the knowledge that a group of us is doing the same. I won’t be leading anything and there will be no live broadcast element. It’s just a case of clicking play, closing your eyes and feeling part of a larger community.

As well as reflecting in this way, it is, of course, vital that we *act*. Whilst the forms of action that are available to us may, in our darker moments, seem pointless, we must not fall prey to the silence of hopelessness.

You can write to your MP by editing this template (be sure to make it personal):

You can attend a demo. There is a weekly silent vigil for Palestine and Israel on Fridays at 5-6pm outside Central Library led by Amnesty International.

You can donate money to organisations working to get aid to those affected by the conflict in Gaza, in Ukraine and beyond. One example is Unicef.

We can commit, as Tara Brach suggests, to “deepening our understanding of the historic trauma, causes and conditions leading up to conflict, violence and suffering. And remembering that humans are not the enemy; it is the universal forces of greed, hatred and delusion that take over and lead to violence and suffering.” There is a podcast here that further explores this.

For testimonies of hope (but also trauma) I recommend watching this documentary about Northern Ireland, which affected me more than words can express. TRIGGER WARNING: Only watch when/if you are robust enough.