Thursday, March 27, 2008

The missing human conscience

I’ve spent the past few weeks pondering and reflecting on Lebanon, the human conscience, and where the directions of this blog should lead. Upon my reflections, I discovered that this blog was not fulfilling its desire as a source of a conscience on the struggles facing all of us in the world.

This blog fell into the trap of becoming a repetitive political gossip site on events that seem unchanging. Do I really want to become a political gossipiest debating the daily, trivial recurrences of mindless taunts and actions? No. What motivated me to launch this blog - and my desire to embark on a career in journalism – was to relay human thought on feelings that affect our trivial behaviours. Our conflicts, our struggles, our intentions are all rooted in the endless desire to attain the basic of human rights.

‘Human rights’ is a title usually slapped onto utopian idealists (and in the face of the current gloom, whoever said that being a utopian fool was such a bad thing?). But ‘human rights’ is a much broader concept that enlists a variety of tentacles that we take for granted.

They can range from tangible necessities such as the right to access sanitary water and sufficient food supplies, to enjoying the various freedoms within a system of governance, such as the freedom of speech, belief, expression and movement. It just seemed rather convenient that my country of origin, Lebanon, is one of those many countries where such struggles to enjoy those basic rights exist.

I was raised learning the stories and feeling the misery of those who were able to escape the war (1975-1990) that destroyed all respect in humanity. But like most Lebanese, I too had origins in a political, sectarian mindset. My view of Lebanon as a child was seen through the eyes of those who revealed it to me. My traditional parents, the elders of my family, fell prey to the Lebanese syndrome of adhering to a single view of how the country should function. It became a committed struggle from my part to be able to break the chains that attached me to that single thought, and learn to explore and appreciate other Lebanese ideas and sentiments. We may all share the same cuisine, language, and perhaps physical features, but Lebanese have been driven worlds apart through their self-inflicted misconceptions. The mountains that so many in the world relish are behave as divisive boundaries that separate villages, towns and, indeed, a people.

So there became my personal struggle, finding the ability and strength to cross the great divide my people have crafted. I wanted to stretch my hand out to the “alien” Lebanese across the mountain, to understand their ways, to learn how we can forge a path together. In order to do this, I felt the need to strip down all between us to the most basic level that binds us together … our sheer humanity. What were our needs and desires as human beings? What did we ask from life? My discovery revealed to me a common denominator amongst all Lebanese, which was the simple desire to lead a simple life, to enjoy the basic rights all humans’ merit.

It is on this basic human level that my eyes suddenly opened. It was the discovery that our problems are entwined with every human struggle on this planet. But it is the means in which we struggle for these rights where we generally tend to go astray. It is during our journey to win human liberty that we concoct labels, draft ideologies, create differences and enter a vicious cycle where the end is as miserable as our beginning.

We killed each other for 15 years, and spent the following 15 years festering the pain from the war. They swore that the future generations would not live to see the miseries of our civil war repeated, but did our miseries ever leave?

I can sit here, as many bloggers, activists, journalists, analysts, experts do, and analyse every detail and piece of information that passes each day. Indeed, I fell into the trap of doing so. But we must address ourselves eventually, and ask, has our contribution changed anything? There are infamous journalists that have spent their entire lives covering the Middle Eastern story, and to what end? They awake today and see the same misery they saw when they first arrived to this troubled region.

My desire to become a journalist doesn’t lie with my fondness to write, but on using it as a conduit to achieve my real goals … helping the ordinary people in their struggle to attain their basic human rights. We all need a core, a principle to begin from. What is our purpose? What are we doing here? What do we hope to achieve? I don’t want to make a career out of the misery of others, but instead want to establish a career out of turning that misery into prosperity.

I need to draw this blog back down to its original level as a reflection on the daily human struggles, such as is in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and as far as Tibet. We need to surpass the superficial labels and political slogans we throw around. I, for one, am not going to sit and report on who threatened who with what on which day. My life will not be spent wasting on observing the same nauseating, repetitive, trivial political slurs that simply deflect attention from the true problems that we face. Instead, my focus will turn to the consequences of this trivial political wrangling on the people.

Do we ever ask ourselves what it must be like for an ordinary man or woman to live under constant war, oppression and fear? What it must feel like for a child to know he or she has no hope of being anything greater than a refugee? What it must be like for a person to be stripped of any ambitions or goals? I, sometimes, feel selfish when I see that I have the ability to sit here, writing on my blog, pondering what choices I wish to take in my life. Many on this planet have no choice at all, and it’s their voice that needs to be heard.

I stated during the Lebanon War of 2006 that the humanitarian aspect was the least considered aspect of any area of conflict in the world. It is this angle that I intend to bring awareness to, moving the limelight away from political slogans and grand speeches, to the ordinary person who goes about his/her daily life.

How have we come to our divisions? Are our people so easily deceived, that they simply swing from one political alignment to another based upon what their local chieftain commands? What does it really mean to be LF, PSP, Hizballah or SSNP? Why is it so critical for the ordinary Lebanese to invest such great energy into political slogans they don’t comprehend? What would make the corrupted blindly follow the corruptor?

These are but a number of questions that only the experienced visitors and students of the region have dared ask. Yet these are the questions our own people tend to avoid, out of fear that the answers may render their convictions unfounded and illogical.

Indeed, the sad aspect, especially in the case of Lebanon, is that many ordinary lives are so deeply entrenched in politics that it seems an impossible feat to extract their daily motions from the country’s political fabric.

Despite all, I continue with my struggle to bridge my own divides with Lebanese across the mountain. It still seems hard for me to sit down and respect one from a political faction I was raised to despise, but it has to be achieved. I need to know that it can be achieved. I need to know that there is still hope. I must find a way to remove all the obstacles that stand between my opposite and I. It is time to begin focusing on not what divides us, but what brings us together. This starts at a human level, and it is on this new level that I will lead this blog.

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