The world right now seems quite a scary and crazy place. As I write this the twitter sphere is buzzing with the sad news of the death of journalist James Foley. Iraq and Syria have degenerated into lawless areas of land being fought over by psychotic militant groups with bloodthirsty ideologies. It’s also been over a month since the start of operation Protective Edge in Gaza which has taken the lives of over 2000 people, 540 of which were children. Ok so maybe you’re thinking well that’s just the Middle East, the Middle East is always burning, always a headline for depression! Actually in the United States, in a small town called Ferguson protestors are being shot by police and the Ebola virus is rampaging through parts of Africa. And most of this I suspect is the result of power and money being held in the hands of the few.
So how do we make sense of the chaos? How do we feel hope, and how do we find solace in the daily deeds of our own lives? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.
I finished a music video shoot the other day for Omar Esa (@1OmarEsa). The song is called ‘Happy’, it’s a kind of cover/reworking of the hit Pharell track that dominated airwaves earlier in the year. It might seem, as it certainly did to me, an odd choice for a song to put out at a time like this. With so much madness and focus on the darkest parts of humanity a song about happiness (and especially it being about Muslims too!) seemed a bit proposterous. Omar did this track at his own expense, not planning on making any money from it either! Crazy! After chatting to him, and actually completing the shoot things made a little more sense. What I derived from his objective was that you can’t let what’s happening in the world dampen your spirit, not let it deter you from your mission.
I’m no theorist but for me art is a way of reaching out and expressing a message. And for him, his art is part of his purpose as a muslim, to spread a message of justice and peace. So in his art he fulfils a meaning of his life. To try and counter stereotypes and make people feel positive, in a time when fear and sadness is a tool to abuse a consumerist population, that’s actually quite heroic and magnanimous. I’m sure that being part of the project will do me countless good and earn me countless blessings (inshAllah).
So I still can’t help but feel despondent some days. And I’ll wake from a nightmare some mornings. But then I get up and do what I do. I go to work, try to be a good husband to my wife, father to my girl and son to my parents. And I make films. Films that make me happy. Films that have something to say about being alive, or truth, or the things that just interest me. And in doing so I find meaning in my short life.
To find out more about Omar Esa and his music visit http://www.omaresa.com and make sure to follow him on Facebook and twitter.
And follow me on twitter at twitter.com/Safiyyahsdad