Through its architecture and design, the Ismaili Centre in Dubai pays a mystical, almost lyrical homage to celebrating the Divine. Walking through the hallways I felt as if I was actually journeying within a three dimensional form of sacred geometry, so often used in Islamic Art. One of the things that really stood out to me was the Iwan, or an anteroom as I chose to remember it. This space serves no purpose but to connect two other rooms. What I found fascinating about this was that until that moment, I had not experienced a transition stage between one point and the next in such a clear and marked way. In our heads, we move rapidly along the current of an almost incessant chatter, barely aware of any moments of respite. Had I not seen this space, not only acknowledged but honoured in physical representation, I may have forgotten a fundamental truth, a great gift.
This never before navigated place that we find ourself in at this time, can also be thought of as an anteroom. A space between life as we knew it and life as it will present itself. Understandably, a lot is coming up for all of us. What it is on an individual level is as different as are we. Alongside, some causes such as racial injustice and gender discrimination, that concern us all are also surfacing for our collective response. Neither of these two topics are new. This has been going on for a very long time and we need to address them both now. All agreed.
However, what does concern me is that protests, which are necessary in their own right must be recognised as what they are and in no way be confused with what they are not. Yes they can be the first step in heralding the change. No they are not the only or the best method to bring in a lasting transformation. All protests come to an end at some point and so can the impetus behind the causes they stand for. If we are looking for lasting solutions, we need to focus where we are encountering these issues; in our day to day lives. To arrive at a collective turnabout, we need to become individually responsible. We need to grow beyond our superficial divisions of colour and gender. These ill founded discriminations have enabled us to adopt one type of behaviour for ourself and another type for the other.
February before last, I remember lingering in the Iwan, feeling as if I had been given room to take a breath; sensing that this undefined space had been considered for me beforehand so that I may take a moment to move forward in a more conscious way. Today we find ourself in a similar transitional space, unique because we stand to attention both as an individual and a collective. What light do we carry with us as we prepare for our next step?
The shift that needs to take place in each of us is the realisation that we are all the same. It is my belief that the day we look at another human being and see ourself, is the day when all illusions fade and we begin to create the life we all dream of.