Tag Archives: peace

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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“Heritages” the Movie: an Introspection on Lebanese Reality

I don’t usually rush to my blog to write movie reviews, I am not an expert in the field of film making but I am a movie buff.

HOWEVER, after watching the movie “Heritages” by Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi, I felt moved and compelled to share this experience.

“Heritages” holds a mirror to our daily realities as Lebanese, our choices, our lack of choices, our constant love hate relationship with this small, deeply flawed, yet beautiful country.  It is a brave endeavor that does not seek to beautify a very bleak reality; it does however approach its subject matter with great love and respect, and that is commendable!!

The movie is an autobiography of a Lebanese family and has a documentary feel to it, but what is really exceptional and noteworthy is that the makers of this film bravely told their intimate histories with depth and honest reflection.  Every Lebanese watching this film will related to this family is some way, they are ‘us’.

Philippe Aractingi’s personal struggle to understand, cope with, and get over the experience of the Lebanese civil war rings very true with those of us who remember it vividly.  It is an experience that we have all tried to keep hidden somewhere in the backs of our minds so we can carry on with our normal lives; the images and scenes that this director chose to show of that era resurrected a monster that we must all learn to face…

The movie deals with all of our doubts and struggles: our diverse backgrounds and heritages, our relationships with each other and with the region around us, our exiles, our returns, and most of all our trying to understand why we are so attached to this country and why we are so reluctant to leave it.

This kind of scripting is very rare in Lebanese cinema as it contains depth and real multi-layered characters and story lines.

Go see it, it’s one of the gems of Lebanese cinema and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

https://www.facebook.com/heritagesthemovie/info

 

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Yabroud of my Childhood

Back when Lebanon was going through its own civil war, when we were little children, we lived in Yabroud for a few months.  This city that has been in the news lately and whose name has become synonymous with conflict, death, terror, and war, holds a very different image in my mind, one I’d like to share…

Through the eyes of the child I was, Yabroud was a green village, a beautiful oasis with strange looking rock formations on the hills that surrounded it.

In Yabroud, people dropped fruit baskets at our doorsteps and showed us great friendship and hospitality.  The women there still walked to river with their laundry, little boys smoked in the streets, and they cooked wheat in large communal vats in its little neighborhoods.

Some of the older women still wore the traditional colorful costumes of what they claim was “Queen Zenobia’s” time.  They were still proud that the once powerful queen had taken Yabroud as her summer residence.

We even went to school in Yabroud, and it was an unforgettable experience for us; coming from a Western style multilingual system of education we found it strange and foreign to be in a totalitarian traditional type of teaching environment.  What I remember most is that me and my cousin had short hair, unlike all the other girls in our class, and for physical education we were required to tie white bows to our pony tails (which we did not have).  It was mandatory, so we had to pin two large white bows to our short tresses to conform….

We made friends easily there, and although I don’t remember names or faces anymore, I remember the feeling of being welcomed into beautiful homes, I remember the older girls making us ‘Tabbouleh’, and I also remember sitting on beautiful balconies overlooking lush fruit gardens and having a first experience with ‘Matte’ an herbal tea drink very popular in the region.

I do believe that places become part of us, and Yabroud is a part of me.  I will always hold on to the image of this beautiful place through the eyes of the child inside of me, as I try to do with all other places that I am rooted to.

We have lived to see too much violence in this region, it robs the soul of its innocence if you let it!

Today I will pin two white bows to my head in remembrance of a childhood, and adulthood spent in times of war….

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Freedom, Justice, Peace and all that Jazz

Terminology is potent: Key words, slogans, catch phrases, can manipulate emotion, and many times incite to action.  One must be careful though of terminology that is wielded around while devoid of real substance.

I will only go through a few terms that are being tossed around these days, terms whose real meanings remain to be pondered.

Freedom:  Now here’s one that gets your blood flowing!  Freedom: to think what you like and do what you like (within the confines of acceptable social behavior and civil or religious laws).  Here’s something I always wondered about:  we have created laws to restrict our freedom in order to be protected from each other, there is a fear factor attached to freedom.  It is a big word and every person that feels restricted in any way will grab on to it for hope.  But beware the freedom peddlers they will more often than not exchange one form of restriction with another.

Truth:  here’s another highly charged term, what we hold as true is what shapes our lives.  But somehow, truth can also be relative in nature: what is true for a certain time and place, may not be true for another, truth is never reality, but more of a process of seeking.  So whenever someone is offering you a truth, remember to take it with a grain of salt and here I’m going to use a movie quote: ” can you handle the truth?”

Justice:  also very relative in nature!  I don’t think that there is a consensus on what is truly just, I mean we measure justice based on moral codes, and moral codes differ (maybe not to a great extent) from place to place and from time to time.  In collective terms, what may be just for one society or country may entail an injustice to be incurred on another.  We all want fair treatment and should not confuse that with the big J.

Peace:  ahhhhhhh peace, that lovely state of being where conflict is nonexistent!  It is a transient state at best, peace like truth is never a  permanent reality but a temporary process of seeking.  Conflict is inherent in human nature, what we have control over is how to deal with conflict in the best ways possible and to lessen its impact on our lives.  So always think of peace as a prelude to conflict, and of conflict as a prelude to peace.

Words and terms that can best be defined by conjuring their opposites are often   dynamic and not static in nature, they are conceptualizations of certain states in the human mind, and they have strong emotional impacts.  Buyer of words beware!

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Filed under Anthropology, Social Organization