Category Archives: Social Organization

Tolerance is not Necessarily Respect

In a discussion with a friend on the subject of tolerance in a pluralistic society, the issue of respecting the “other’s” beliefs and convictions came up.
My friend said: “I can tolerate them but I can’t respect them” and that was a statement that got me thinking!

Let me backtrack a bit here: In my corner of the world, conflict is rampant. What is now called the Middle East is the source, and bottomless well, of diversity, war, and polarization.

Back to the tolerance issue, and I’ve written about this before on this blog, because lately, I am having trouble being tolerant and I’m not liking myself too much because of it.

So my friend’s statement gave me a bit of relief, since it differentiated between tolerance and respect.

You know the adage: I respect your opinion but I don’t agree with it? That’s a load of bull! I only respect your right to have your own opinion, but not the opinion itself. Additionally I only respect your right to have your own opinion as long as you voice it and manifest it logically.

I am allowed not to agree with, and not to respect your opinion, but for the sake of coexisting on this piece of the planet, I will tolerate it (only as long as your opinion does not become hostile action towards me, but that is another story).

Mind you, this is an internal issue; I am only allowing myself to disrespect and loathe the others’ opinions and practices while tolerating them internally, in my head. I am in no way condoning disrespectful speech or hostile action against others as is so rampant these days.

You see, it gives you inner peace to allow yourself to not only disagree, but also disrespect things that do not match your system of thinking, however, as soon as you begin to voice that disrespect, then it becomes intolerance and slander.

Personally and very frankly, I am more concerned with my inner peace at this stage than I am with changing the opinions of others, and in order to maintain that peace I do need to be tolerant, but will allow myself not to respect and to strongly dislike (I don’t like the word hate) the nonsense I see all around me.


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Grin and “Bear” it or (How to Cure the Hard Heart Syndrome)

The Hard Heart Syndrome!

Over the course of a lifetime lived in a corner of the world that is full of conflict, war, and death, it sometimes happens that people get a condition that I will call “hardening of the heart”: this is not a medical condition but it is more of a psychological condition or syndrome that gradually diminished one’s apathy and compassion and that makes a person indifferent to the agony of witnessing so much injustice, so much violence, and so much pain.  It is also a condition that makes people selfish, hey, survival in dire times requires self-protection, and self-protection requires a big dose of self-love.

I write this because of a seemingly insignificant incident that happened last week and that got me thinking about starting to reverse the process of the hardening of my heart in order to really feel human again, not only that, but I wanted to remember how a younger version of me experienced life with a fully functioning heart.  So I am writing this blog entry as a totally transparent exercise in self-examination!

It’s just a bear!

Some friends and I went on a little road trip to a mountain village and visited a little wild animal shelter run by a couple who have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about wildlife in Lebanon (the story of this shelter is very important and I may write about it at a later time).  There we saw different animals with different injuries in enclosures and in cages being taken care of in order to be re-released into the wild.  One animal, a large bear that looked a lot like a grizzly, somehow touched my hardened heart.  The caretaker told us that this species in now nearly extinct in Lebanon, and that this guy is a sole survivor and has been living at the shelter for a while.  This made me sad and stuck with me for days and I’m not the kind of person that gets emotional over animals: I eat meat, and I would wear fur if I could afford it!

It’s a lot to bear!

But this whole unexpected emotional episode over a lonely bear in a big cage really got me thinking about how tough I have become on the inside and I asked myself some hard questions: why is it that children begging in the streets don’t move me? Why don’t the senseless and violent deaths of innocents in the many warzones all over the region make me angry or sad anymore? Why am I indifferent to the plight of millions of refugees? Why do I only care about a small number of people who comprise my family and close entourage? When did I become so good at selecting who to feel for and when to feel? And how did the big sad bear break through my defenses?

Bear with me on this!

Each person who is suffering from “hardening of the heart” will probably have different answers if they were to ask themselves the questions I asked myself, or similar ones depending on what they have selected to harden their heart about.  And (I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with and) even if they found the answers, would that make any difference? Would it cure this affliction? I don’t think it would, although it might help a little in finding a cure or a course of treatment.  And are we really sure we want to be cured? YES I WANT TO BE CURED because a lukewarm life is a sign of surrender!

And I found that the cure lies in a decision, a decision to care again in spite of the pain that is suffered because of caring.

And once I start to care and hurt again, I just might become part of some kind of solution.

Thank you almost extinct bear! I love you

The Bear! You can visit him at

The Bear!
You can visit him at


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ماذا عن الآخَر؟

for the English version go to this link:

!التطايق – كلمة من اجتهادي لاني لم أجد تعريبا مناسبا للكلمة =Tolerance

إن كنت تعتقد نفسك شخصَا قادرًا على التطايق, فهل هذا يعني أنك قادر على التطايق مع من لا يؤمن بهذه الفكرة, أو مع من لا يتقبّلها على الإطلاق؟

اكتشفت مؤخرّاً أن حدود تطايقي قد تمّ قياسها و إختبارها. لقد لاحظت أنني أعيش في مناخ يهيم عليه طابع التخلّف والتعتيم العقلي الذي يبعث الكراهية في نفوس الناس ممّا يدفعم إلى الإبتعاد عن فكرة التسامح مع الآخرين.

يبدو أن الناس أصبحوا أكثر انغلاقا على أنفسهم وأكثر تمسكّا بما يعتقدون أنه المثال الأسمى: “إن لم توافقنا فأنت عدوّنا”

باتت جميع وجوه عدم التسامح والتطايق تهطل بغزارة: الدينيّة والسياسية والإجتماعية والعرقية وحتى الإثنية , بالتزامن مع نوع من التعصب الفاحش الذي يشكل مظهرًا للعدوانيّة واللامنطق في آنٍ معًا.

لا أريد أن أغوص في متاهات تفسير هذا التفكير البدائي للناس, لأن هذا الموضوع يحتاج إلى تعمّق في الدراسة وإبداء الرأي. ما يهمني هو السعي لإيجاد طريقة تمكنني من التطايق مع هذا النوع من التفكير وتحملّه حتّى لا أنجرّ إلى ذلك المستوى من الكراهية.

فالتطايق يعني أن نكون متساهلين مع أولئك الذين يتمتّعون بتصرّفات وأعراق وأديان وجنسيّات وآراء مختلفة تمامًا عن ما نعتقده نحن ونؤمن به, أي بتعبير آخر هو “التحرر من التعصبية”. يعني التطايق أن نكون مهتمّين ومنفتحين لآراء وأفكار ومعتقدات الآخرين المختلفة عنّا, أي بتعبير آخر هو ” وجهة نظر ليبرالية وغير دوغماتيّة”.

فهل أعتبر دوغماتيًّأ إن كنت أؤمن بالتطايق؟

أيمكننا بالفعل أن نكون حياديّين وبالتالي عادلين؟

وعندما تجتاح موجة عدم التطايق شواطىء وجودنا, هل بإمكاننا التسامح عندها؟

لما يدور في خاطري أسئلة كثيرة أبحث لها عن أجوبة, هذه الأسئلة ليست إفتراضية بل هي أساسية بحت. أنا على يقين أن الأجوبة موجودة وأبسط مما أعتقد, ولكن هذا الجوّ من الكراهية والعصبية والعدوانية المستمرّة والتفكك الإجتماعي الذي يؤدّي إلى التخلّف الفكري يمتلك القوة الكافية لإضعاف القوة والإرادة في داخلنا.


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If the Word is Mightier than the Sword, Do We Need Word Control?

Poisonous statements have reached epidemic proportions…It’s a dilemma, I’m stumped!!!


“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire

I saw this saying twice today, the first time on a poster in someone’s office, the second time on a friend’s status on Facebook.  I have always liked this saying, to me it epitomized the open and fair mind.

The world today is an open forum of ideas, almost anyone can publish and disseminate their point of view.  The new communication media has opened up the field for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to speak their minds (this very blog for example). But you know what? I’ve been wondering lately how good of a thing that is!

Who receives all these views and opinions? The masses? Who are the masses, and can they discern credibility and or authenticity?I’m sure lots of people read critically, but lots don’t…

Here’s another quote by…

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Chivalry is Dead and WE Killed It

I just watched this Youtube video and found myself fascinated with this little boy dealing with his weepy and vulnerable female classmate.  The boy offers protection, comfort, and service (and at this age I can’t think what his hidden motives might be).

I am sure that this is not purely instinctive behavior, and that this boy has some sort of role model he is emulating- Yet, the way he deals with the little girl is the way that every scared little girl in every grown woman wants to be treated by a man!

And here is where some of the hardcore feminists are going to jump at my throat with the “Women don’t need protection and comforting etc… etc…”

Well we may not need it but we crave it on a purely primal natural level, and here let me just say this: Protection does not mean domination just so we are on the same page.

Now here is my humble assertion after years of introspection and observation: as women, on our quest to gain our equality in society, we have skewed the natural order of things, and have cheated ourselves of some of our natural vulnerabilities, and consequently we have confused men about their respective roles.

Having equal rights does not mean abandoning our natural inherent tendencies to seek out strength in the men in our lives.

Thank you little boy for being such a gentleman, I hope that you don’t lose this trait as you grow older!


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Hashtag #wars vs. Real Wars!

On the very few occasions when I actually watch news on Television a story caught my attention about the hashtag war between Israel and GAZA, and I thought: (sorry profanity coming up) What the Fuck?

And it seems this is also a trending issue online!!

I will not mention the warring hashtags here, sorry that is utter nonsense.

In this virtual parallel universe, what is the meaning of these victories?

They create a morale boost for one side over another (and it is a false boost at that.)
They may give those who are feeling helpless about the situation a sort of empowerment (and it is false empowerment at that.)
They give the old idle ideologues something to ponder (and it is a false something at that)

Most of all, these hashtag wars are a distraction and a way to pacify ourselves against the horrors of death, destruction, and helplessness.

And as Forrest Gump said: “that’s all I have to say about that”.

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Conflict Terminology- The not so innocent way media chose their words!

This is a repost of a previous entry, and a precursor to my upcoming series: Conflict Terminology for Dummies.

Just a word to the wise, even the most objective media can slant your opinion: not by overt propaganda (as most Middle East media do) but with simple language nuances.

Language: a system of symbols that help us to communicate facts, thoughts, and feelings.  Sounds innocent enough, well it isn’t, and the media and advertising industries have known this for a long time, and so have some of the world’s best writers.  Since these are the “communication” times, where information is disseminated at dizzying speed and in overwhelming quantity, it’s important for those who want to be well informed to be able to do a quick analysis and an instant filtering in order to discern the real facts and arrive at some sane opinion.

Below you will find different terms used in media today to describe one situation, occurrence, or phenomenon,  using different terminology (in both English and Arabic), as well as some suggestions as to what they may really mean to imply. This is just the very short list, as this is a 101 level, feel free to add your favorite “synonyms”.


Fundamentalist-Extremist-Ultra Orthodox    أصولي-متطرف-ارثودوكسي متطرف

All very close in meaning, I mean a fundamentalist is an extremist ultra orthodox believer.  But note how Ultra Orthodox is a little less threatening than fundamentalist, and how fundamentalist is a little less threatening than extremist.


Dead-casualties-martyrs   قتلى-ضحايا-شهداء

The dead simply ceased to be living, casualties were victims, and martyrs are heroes, that’s how we quickly interpret these words in our minds.


Killed-Murdered-Slaughtered  قتل-ذبح

Killed implies some violence, murdered implies violence and criminal intent, while slaughtered implies barbaric violence.


Hundreds-Thousands-Tens of Thousands… مئات-آلاف-عشرات الآلاف-مسيرة مليونية

Ah, the numbers game! When do hundreds become thousands? Is 999 about a thousand? Or is around 800,000 a million?


Demonstrations-Riots-Civil disobedience  مظاهرات-أعمال شغب-عصيان مدني

Civil disobedience is perceived to be the tamest and most peaceful, demonstrations are a bit scarier, but riots are really scary.


Rebels-Insurgents-Freedom fighters   متمردين-مقاتلين-ثوار-مجاهدين

Freedom fighters are noble, rebels are romantic, insurgents we don’t really know what to feel about.

Leader-Strong Man-Head of   قائد-زعيم-رئيس

A leader is a father figure that has supporters, a strong man is more like a gang leader who rules by force, and a head of is kind of neutral.


Militia-Gang-Guerrillas   ميليشيا-عصابة

All of these terms carry negative raps, Guerillas however sometimes has more of the freedom fighter connotation than a gang or a militia.  And militia implies a more organized gang with a purpose.


Stormed-Attacked-Stomped   شن هجوما-اقتحم

To storm something is almost neutral in its outcome, although it means a swift and strong action.  To attack is a bit more aggressive in nature, and to stomp implies greater angry aggression.


Invaded-Occupied-Marched into   غزو-احتلال

The nuances of language here are at their best, to invade has a sort of temporary feel to it, while to occupy implies long-term.  March into is the most neutral.


Supporters-proponents-followers   مؤيدين-أنصار-أتباع

Supporters and proponents seem to be well aware of what and who they are supporting, while followers implies a type of blind and ignorant faith.


Never underestimate the power of a single word, every word carries within its folds many emotional and intellectual triggers that (unfortunately) can move the “masses”.

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