March 30, 2005

For the Times they are a'changing

Come writers and critics, who prophesize with your pen,
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won't come again,
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin,
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'.
For the loser now will be later to win,
For the times they are a-changin'.
Bob Dylan

Not my favorite artists, as a matter of fact, one that I would not add to my CD collection. However, this line came to mind when I saw this wall in downtown Beirut (see picture above). The people on top of the wall are looking at the ‘women demonstration’ of March 28th. I am all in favor of showing support, but having a women-only demonstration did not strike me as particularly interesting. On top of that, we (being women) were advised to come in white. As a sign of peace. That made it two things that annoyed me about this particular demonstration. Just ask people to come, whoever they are and however they are dressed. Should be sufficient. But if you start dictating now as to who and how, you take the spontaneity out of it all. Before you know it, they organize demonstrations of ‘Christians against the Syrians’, and ‘Sunnite Moslems against the Syrian occupation’. This country is crazy enough.

My sister in-law had a business dinner the other night, somewhere up in the mountains, a Christian area. She described how the women sat in one salon, the men in another, and how the woman introduced themselves. Religion seemed to be a big thing. My sister in-law is non-religious as far as she is concerned, but the other ladies introduced themselves as being ‘ a maronite from .., ‘ and ‘a Greek-orthodox from …’. One had even changed her name as her name had a negative, i.e. Moslem connotation. I mean, there are people in this country that consider other religions as purely alien. And the people that go with those ‘other’ religions are not human, not equal. And they were discussing the demonstrations downtown. The people at that dinner considered all these demonstrations useless, and said that it made no difference anyway, and that chaos and civil war would return because the Lebanese couldn’t live with one another peacefully because they couldn’t stand one another, and the Lebanese were incapable of running a country and on and on. My sister in-law was appalled. “No, with people like you, you are quite right that this is not going to work out.” She couldn’t be too harsh, it was a business dinner after all, and she may need to work with them on a professional level.
One lady said "My husband doesn't allow me to go downtown". (Downtown is where all the demonstratoins are going on). Wow honey, what age did you say you lived in?

Still, there are people like this in Lebanon, and you probably have them on the other side of the scale as well. I think we are being naïve in assuming just because religion is not an issue to us, is isn’t to others. It is very much so, and I think this political change in Lebanon is not going to change anything about that. People are jailed by their own web of perceptions. Next time on a lighter note.


[ j i m m y ] said...

I was browsing by and fell on your blog by chance. I think you describe the situation in the country very well. I do respect the way you describe the country without insulting or hurting us (concerning for example the chaos, the pollution, or the way we think). And i think that u r right about people who still live in the middle ages. Those people are still dependant of politicians, of religious 'ségrégation' and on traditionnal perceptions of social existance. Thanks for allowing me to see how lebanon is percieved in the eyes of european people.

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