#52: "Too much" perspective

Reads on Palestine, plus new episodes of my pod Talk of Shame and more...

Hi, I’m Alya Mooro and you’re reading The Greater Conversation, a fortnightly newsletter honestly addressing all aspects of life through the eyes of a Middle Eastern / third-culture / woman / human. Alternately, there’ll be some thoughts from me, or a guest piece, along with recommendations of articles, books*, podcasts and etc worth consuming. If you’ve just subscribed, welcome! If this issue was forwarded to you, add your email to join the list.

Never have we ever been so conscious of the many, many problems that exist in the world, all the very many injustices and inequalities. It feels like every week there is something new to be outraged about, something new that’s often really something old, something only just coming to the forefront, that breaks your heart.

Social media and the increased connectivity it provides has played a massive role in making the world feel much smaller than it’s ever been. The pandemic only exacerbated this, I think. Would last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement have surged in the way it did were it not for the pandemic? Would the movement to Free Palestine? I’m not so sure.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and a conversation that came up on my Instagram this week. I posted an IG story asking who had booked a summer holiday, and who had yet to, due to Covid. As I posted it, I immediately thought about the fact that there are so many people in the world who have never been on a summer holiday, who never would, for reasons multiple and nothing to do with the pandemic at all.

I - you - we know that. That’s not new information. But never have I ever felt quite *this* aware of it, before. When the world first went into lockdown, everyone kept saying we’re on the same boat. But if this year has really cemented anything for me, it’s that we are, in fact, most certainly not.

As an empathetic person and someone who cares deeply about human rights, over the last year in particular, I’ve spent weeks at a time crying and feeling equal parts livid, hopeful, helpless, and guilty. So much so that everything else pales in comparison; feels stupid and pointless and vapid.

Each time my dad will look at me in surprise. He’ll tell me that there have been fucked up things happening in the world since its inception, that this has been going on for far longer than I’ve been aware of it. And he’s right. But it’s such a tricky balance to strike: How to stay engaged and do what you can to make the world a better place, without losing the joy of life? How to integrate the knowledge that you are lucky, that you are privileged, and not let the guilt of that immobilise you? At what point – and is it ever okay – to stop self-flagellating for that? To want the things we want, like a summer holiday or a night out, or a laugh, without thinking of everyone for whom those things are out of reach.

“For me, it’s about how I can give to myself guilt-free, and how I can honour and give back to others, and having the balance of both,” my friend Hana wrote to me. “Being self aware doesn’t mean our life stops, it means we think twice about where we spend our money, how, on who, etc. And how we can spend some of that money, energy and time to help others that are in need.”

It’s a really great outlook, and great advice, and something I’ll certainly be trying to take more onboard. Because it feels like the world is purging itself of its shit, a new earth being born, and there will be many more systems to overthrow, a lot more pain and ugliness to emerge before that can happen. And we need to be balanced and centered in order to withstand the changes, and aid them.

“We’ve all had a bit too much perspective this year,” added someone else. “Perspective is good but when you zoom out too far it becomes useless. You’re more useful to the world with a sharp focus than with a view that is too broad.”

I’m not sure what the answer is exactly, but it seems to be somewhere in the balance of perspective and awareness. Where you’re engaged and conscious, but not to where it immobilises you. Not to where you can’t or won’t or don’t feel joy. Because isn’t that, in a way, what we’re fighting for? For everyone to feel that, unadulterated?

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  • There are two new episodes of my podcast Talk of Shame. Episode Four features Rosaline Elbay, an Egyptian-born writer and actress who is best known for her role in Ramy. We talk about whether we need shame in order to be good people, and question what a “good” person is, anyway. For Episode Five, I spoke with Noor Tagouri, an award-winning Libyan-American storyteller, about the “invisible jury” and the idea of gossip as control. 

    Catch up on the episodes here. If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe, review and share.


Thanks for subscribing! I'm Alya, the person behind this newsletter. I am a freelance journalist and the bestselling author of The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes. You can follow me on Instagram here, and Twitter hereBuy me a digital ko-fi.
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