Tag Archives: change

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 https://www.facebook.com/animalencounter.org

The Bear!
You can visit him at https://www.facebook.com/animalencounter.org

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Filed under Literature, Social Organization

Activism is so IN!!

Yea it is, everyone is an activist for something these days, and those who really don’t have any of their own convictions can choose to conveniently latch on to any fashionable and trendy cause featured online …..

Start a page or a group or even a blog, start a petition, post a comment, hit like, start a discussion, upload a photo with a quote, etc… and hey you’re Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. all of a sudden?

I know a couple of people activating for so many causes at the same time, that it’s getting confusing (if it’s confusing me, I can’t even imagine what it’s doing to the serial activist)….

It’s easy to vent through social media about revolution, rights, responsible citizenship, unethical treatment of animals, environmental crimes, etc… and I suppose it makes you feel like you actually did something for the greater good.

I argue that we have come to a time of such interconnectedness and open communication that it has masked our sense of isolation with meaningless interaction.

Come cure your sense of isolation and helplessness by liking a page, by adopting a virtual cause, by becoming part of this electronic community of faces and masks.

Real activism is about commitment, about sacrifice, about risking life and limb for what you believe in, it’s not about hiding behind a screen and spewing often unsupported arguments.

Wake up virtual activists, they’ve found you a way to vent your frustrations, that is well away from the arena where  important decisions are made!!

causes

 

 

 

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Filed under Political, Social Organization

Ridiculing Ourselves…Sarcasm and Change

I have noticed that the there is an ongoing trend in Lebanese thought, literature, art, and general attitude: the “caricaturization” of our vices with a sarcastic and condescending tone of voice.

It seems everyone has something to say about how ridiculous Lebanon has become, politically and socially. Everyone is a critic with a sharp eye and rapier wit… Lebanese wit is definitely thriving!

I just have to stop and say this: it has become tiresome.  I don’t want to read another book or article or social media status, and I don’t want to listen to another song cleverly describing the following subjects:  The vanity of Lebanese women, The chaos of traffic, The corrupt officials, The night life, The plastic surgery, The treatment of domestic workers, The price of gas, The electricity, The slow internet, The deforestation and other environmental disasters, The hypocrisy, The decline of musical taste, etc…..

Mockery and cynicism seem to have become the communication outlet of choice:  Oh we are so smart, we see the problems and we tell them in a way that makes the reader or listener chuckle “a la Ziad Rehbani”.  But guess what? It ain’t funny anymore; it’s gone on for too long, we have taken a good look at ourselves in the proverbial social mirror and many times we don’t like what we see, and I believe it is a little dangerous to keep mocking ourselves and finding the humor in a bad situation. This can be counter productive and makes us less prone to find solutions, or to accept these changes as inevitable in the highly dynamic Lebanese environment.

One more thing:  Perspective is a very important thing.  To those writing so drolly about the vices of our society, I urge you to reconsider your perspective and your purpose.  Do you just want to amuse people by tormenting them with their weaknesses? Do you want to share your perspective for fame and profit?  Do you want to hold up a mirror to show people their true selves in order to initiate change?

We have serious problems, and I think we’ve ridiculed ourselves long enough about them, let’s either accept them as the reality of who we are, or find serious ways of eradicating them.

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Filed under Anthropology, Literature, Social Organization