Tag Archives: war

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Political, Social Organization

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

3 Comments

Filed under Literature, Social Organization

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”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Political, Social Organization

“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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, Social Organization

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….

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Social Organization

“WE GOT SCARED”

Worth a read, and if you’re not into reading, worth a watch…

http://liquidmini.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/we-got-scared-transcript-from-youtuber-dogmaticcure/

Leave a comment

Filed under Anthropology, Arts, Literature, Political, Social Organization

If it’s not Drama, it’s Apathy?

I am well aware of the very tragic events in the region:  the atrocities of war, the stench of death, the bitterness of hunger, the wretchedness of displaced families, the sorrows of injury and injustice, etc…

I am very well aware of the daily tragedies of homeless children, disenfranchised minorities, the stepped upon migrant workers, the abused women, the cancer and other awful disease victims.

I am well aware of the inequities of life, but I CHOOSE to stay away from the dramatic approach to things.  This  sometimes is misconstrued as apathy, I get it, given the seriously dark state of things, my seemingly neutral attitude can very well be understood as apathy.

Just because someone is not constantly and publicly voicing disapproval, condemnation, lamentation, and disapprobation does not mean one is not affected by the miseries of the world.  It may mean a primal understanding of the chaotic state of life, or of its cyclical nature.  It may mean a certain amount of control over strictly emotional reflexes, in order to gain a better understanding of a situation and to plan out the necessary reactions.  It may mean a state of self preservation in the face of too much drama.

There is already too much drama going on, there is too much screaming at the top of lungs, beating of chests, pulling hair, screaming lungs out, crying a river,  taking vows of revenge, making blanket statements of hate and despair, or even gathering followers based on raw emotion.  If the calmer and more logical approach to the tragedies of this life is to be considered apathy, well then, consider me apathetic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Political, Social Organization