On Thursday night, I had had a wonderful experience listening to Michael W Smith, the three time Grammy Award winner, at the ‘Prayer for Peace” worship concert.
Organized by the Christian community in Bahrain, along with Ta’Ayosh – Bahrain Society of Tolerance and Coexistence of Religions, this wonderful concert had uplifted my spirit; and also those of 4000 others present.
Apart from the award winning singer himself, a local choir of some 100 singers from 40 churches, with local musicians, added a delightful musical flavour to the show that regaled the hearts of those who attended.
I also enjoyed two special songs that Mr Smith dedicated to Bahrain after thanking His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for encouraging the freedom in this country to worship together.
But, while driving back towards Manama, from Khalifa Sports City’s Indoor Stadium where the event was held, I saw – near Khamis – the now familiar, but unpleasant, sight of protesters burning tyres on the roads.
Anyone who sees the violence and vandalism I saw, on Thursday night, while returning from the ‘Prayer for Peace’ music concert, will be disturbed at the negativism it portrayed.
I saw overturned dustbins, oil-puddles with fires, and burning tyres, with masked men and police confronting one another with fiery darts and tear gas shots.
And, immediately, from a positive feeling of elation, to which Michael W Smith’s music had taken me up, I was suddenly plunged into a feeling of murky negativism at the state of affairs on ground-level.
After enjoying the experience of thousands of men and women, young and old, around me, singing in unison along with the visiting singer, I had to now, suddenly, experience the ill-feeling of witnessing fires on roads, and property being damaged by protesters, for no practical reason.
Seeing this situation in Bahrain – even though, for years, I am used to reporting news stories on protests like these, received from other countries – I was left very disappointed at the way some ill-informed, evil-minded, leaders are misguiding many Bahraini youth into street violence and vandalism.
These gullible young protesters seem to believe that they can get their way by burning tyres, by damaging public property, and by attacking police, when the real dialogue option was always available.
Though the National Consensus Dialogue, the second round of talks between the government and opposition, ended in a stalemate this week, with opposition groups demanding that a king’s representative to be present, I believe there is still hope in future dialogues.
Though some members of the opposition seem unwilling and unrelenting in coming to the table to discuss, I believe that the journey up ahead is not all filled with darkness. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
But, sadly, the leaders of these violent protesters seem to be so focused on themselves that they are refusing to move ahead in the direction of light.
They seem to be so bogged down by stubbornness that they are unwilling to reason-out a solution.
Violence and vandalism is no solution at all. The solution may well be in prayer. Yes. Prayer for wisdom and prayer for peace. Prayer for government and prayer for protesters.
But, along with wisdom from above, what Bahrain needs is a desire from all those around us to seek out a workable solution. Actionable steps are urgently needed, to thwart the feelings of negativism.
And then, perhaps, with one voice, a united Bahrain can move ahead into a brighter tomorrow