Sunday, July 23, 2006

O Lebanon… My Lebanon

(This is the text of a moving e-mail I just received from my best friend in Lebanon, Khaldoun.)

I am not sure what I am going to say or write about.
Been more than a week unable to think straight or put two sentences together.

I can't define what I am feeling, that is if I have any feelings left in me.
I have definitely bypassed the stage of sadness and crossed the borders of disparity.
Is it agony? I am afraid not.
It is the feeling of desolateness where nothing really matters any more. No taste, no color, no sound, no form… too many No's to list.

I look around, into the faces of the people, I find a lost smile. A shadow smile was just there, somewhere, and now it is all gone.
What incenses me is my mom's tear that escapes her hand wiping it off, hiding it from the rest of us to share some strength into our falling-apart dreams and hopes.
What torture me are the black circles under my sister's eyes that keep me wondering whether they are from her dispersed cries or even from all the nightmares she has while she sounds peacefully sleeping.

What a joke?
Here we are all sitting in front the TV; the remote control in one hand flipping channels to get a better picture or image on what is going on… no where but in the same territory where we are living in.
Ya territory… I dare not say country, because I am too ashamed to identify it as a country when all of this tragedy is going on and there is nothing we, the inhabitants, can do or even say.

We didn't decide we want all of this.
No one consulted us or asked for our opinion.
No one forewarned us that this is coming.
No one explained to us where we are heading.

We were planning for our future with some hope and trust. We were going to attend all those performances brought from all around the globe to this great country.
We were planning to go to the beach and get a suntan that others could envy us for.
We were planning to travel for a short vacation and come back with a long list of shopped items for family and friends.
We were planning projects and programs for the coming few years.
We were planning how to study and sit for an exam or even find a better paid job.

We were never forewarned.
Now we need to prepare ourselves for the worse, for dark nights and gloomy days.
Now we need to think where to hide and which road is safe to take.
Now we need to think when to flee and leave.
Now we need to think if we are going to be short on diesel and even bread.

And I ask myself why?
Haven't we been paying our dues on time?
Haven't we been throwing garbage in their proper places?
Haven't we been trying to abide by the laws?
Haven't we been respecting our responsibilities?
Haven't we been going to work everyday?
Haven't we been saying good morning and good night in a proper way?

Why? I am not sure if I am looking for an eloquent answer.
Just few days before all of this started, the cities and towns were decorated with all those foreign flags celebrating the World Cup; the Lebanese flag barely made it to few cars or balconies, one of which is mine.

Few months ago, we attended Majida El Roumi's concert. There she was, singing Beirut Sit El Dunia*; there he was, our Prime Minister, up on his feet listening to the 10-minute-or-so song standing as a sign of respect not for the singer but for the great city; and there we were, the audience, the Lebanese, sitting throughout the song and standing up only when there was a beat or a rhythm, drawing hand-signs that reflect our inferiority as subjects and not citizens.

I don't know if I should continue to ask myself why?
But well, no one has the right to impose his opinions, likes/dislikes, decisions, and choices on me as an individual.
I don't want this war; I want to live in peace. I no longer believe in causes or care for others' misery; our tragedies have been enough. I don't want to defend others' existence or support their rights; I look around and realize that I am not getting anything in return except words of pity and sympathy. I don't need this. Well, the song says "La Shay'a Ma3i Illa Kalimat"**.

I am almost 32. I lived half of my life in a civil war; 15 years of being scared and frightened. I witnessed the Israeli attacks in 1993 and the Qana massacre in 1996.
I was there throughout the devastations of 2005 with all the assassinations and bombs. I was so scared to continue my life; I wanted to stay in, move around the minimum possible; I stepped away from my friends and relatives. I could not reach out. I was scared. But now, I am not sure what I am feeling, if there are any feelings left inside.

My apologies finally go to a great country called Lebanon. I am ashamed of myself and of others for what we have been doing or even for what we haven't been doing. How trivial are our lives, our needs and opinions, our differences, and even our religions, compared to the continuous rebirth of a phoenix that never gives in.
There is a piece of heaven on earth and I truly believe it is called Lebanon; there is where the whole story should be or actually is; where history instigated and where it will always end. And who are we and our trivials in the existence of a great nation or mission or civilization (or call it what you want to call it), that I am more sure now that we don't actually deserve.

O Lebanon… My Lebanon

* = "Beirut, Lady of the World"
** =
"I've got nothing but words"; the last line from Majida el-Roumi's song, "Kalimat" (Words)


Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine how you are feeling as Lebanon is being destroyed needlessly. All I see from Canada is tanks rolling into Lebanon, rockests landing and innocent people dying. Israel has hundreds of prisoners who are woman and little children. 3 Israeli soldiers does not mean Israel has a free reign to kill innocent people. I supported a peaceful solution in the middle east all of my life but now I think that there will never be a solution until Israel learns to treat the Palestinians and thier neighbours as friends and with respect. I am tired of Israel crying fould after they bomb and kill Palestinians. The Palestinian people had their land stolen by Israel. Surely the Jews must understand what it is like to be displaced. I think the world made a big mistake in 1948. There is no rooom in the Midddle East for Israel unless the government of Israel adopts a peace plan instead of murdering innocent people. The Israeli government and military should be charged with war crimes!

Anonymous said...

Dear Khaldoun,
I understand perfectly what you r I was planning my life the same way, and got taken by surprise..Do not despair though, and in your heart look for what is pure, true and Human...This is what keeps us alive and human.

I know it is hard when things r crazy around u, but just imagine being one of the 1500 people stuck undergroung in a school in bint Jbeil, while the israelis do not let you out..just imagine, do u think all of them were planning on it? do u think all of them support HA? I doubt it...just remember that condemning other people and pushing them away only makes things worse..In times of darkness, war and evil we need astronomical amounts of LOVE.
The one reason that keeps me hanging on, is that I believe in Lebanon..I believe many of the Lebanese people r good, and deep in their hearts have gold..they love to not Forget not let anyone take Love from your heart..
I pray for you, for my family and every soul in lebanon

Cresent said...

You cannot even imagine, people strutting around in a mall buying things, laughing, at leisure, eating and meeting, talking to neighbours. Children doing what children do, at play or sleeping, life snuffed out of them.

Then out of the skies comes doom, in the hands of people who cry still about what happened to them at the hands of the Nazis. They are the butchers now.

The people of Moses. Moses himself must be crying from Heaven to see them who he was destined to free still enslaved by the devil.

They have killed people whose land they have stolen, no excuses. I cringe to think what they would do to people who came and occupied their land.

The world did not grant them that land, it was handed to them without agreement. Ugly neighbours they have been ever since. Vile, unkind, selfish.

Cresent said...

War crimes! Hey Mr. Bush, Mr. Saddam had not done less in Kuwait before you sprung into action, what are you waiting for ? Get the Israelis for what they are doing to Lebanon, will ya, or are you reading your book upside down again ?

Anonymous said...

I cannot pretend to know how you feel as I sit here comfortable with the US borders.

I hear the sorrow of your words and see the wounded children in the hospital on the news and they remind me of my children and this grieves me.

The Adults (Government Leaders) have gone crazy with the blame game and we have become pawns in a game we don’t even understand.

Biased media spouts propaganda for ratings and to set government pretext. Choose your poison wisely (who will you hate). Blame it on Israel, blame it on Hezbollah blame it on the US or Iran. It is the hate that blinds and whoa to the parents who bring their children up in its way.

1 Corinthians 13
1 If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth[a] but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[b] but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.
4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. 6It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8Love will last forever, but prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[c] and special knowledge will all disappear. 9Now we know only a little, and even the gift of prophecy reveals little! 10But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear.
11It's like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[d] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.
13There are three things that will endure--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.

God have mercy on us all

And may he protect and keep you safe