December 05, 2006

No Laughing Matter

It used to be that we could make relentless fun of each others religion and political convictions in my circle of friends. And did we ever. But those days seem to have come to an end. I thought it would be a slow process, but it happened rather abruptly. Within a matter of days, religion is no longer an issue we can make fun of; political convictions are becoming serious business. Yes, our backgrounds no longer are a laughing matter.

It started creeping in, slowly, right after this summer war. It aggravated when Nasrallah announced he wanted a greater representation for the shia, and that he would topple the government if they wouldn’t get it (or you might argue that it got worse when the government refused to give in. These days, everthing has two sides, and two side only). And now it is at its peak.

Friends come to me and tell how other friends have insulted them, because they talk of ‘those animals down at the zoo in downtown’. Others come and complain, and say they never knew that so-and-so was such a hard liner, because have you heard what he said …? Some friends are afraid, saying that this is no longer their Lebanon, and that they are disgusted by it all, but in the meantime, they do not sit with so and so anymore, because he said that she said, and you know, he is a maronite, after all. Well, you all know about them, don’t you? Aaah, you weren’t here during the war! Well habibti, let me tell you about the maronites and their ouwet. Another good friend, I’ve know him for 7 years, suddenly surprises me with a remark that I never thought I’d hear from him. He’d rather live under the Iranians than under the Saudis. And do you know who’s been buying up all that christian land in the mountains…? I didn’t even know politics interested him.
But this is no longer about politics, now is it? This is about tribes. Us and them. And you got to stick with the Us, because the Us will look out for us, not them.

And so we seem to have landed back in 1975. For a fleeting moment, I thought maybe I should gather this Ali somebody’s name, the young man that was shot on Sunday during fights between shia and sunni youth in a sunni neighborhood (didn’t I warn you about the young guns?), as he might be the first victim of a long list to come. Because wouldn’t it be something, if we had the names of all the people that died in Lebanon’s civil war (1976 – 1990), than we could make this mighty long wal, just like the Vietnam Memorial, with all their names carved in marble.
Bt nobody ever thought of keeping track of all the names, because nobody thought it would last that long. So I thought, maybe we should keep track of the names this time. Just in case. So that we can make a monument for the new war.
My friends say it is the stupidest idea they’ve ever heard of.
I think they are afraid to admit.

Oh well. But if you want to know what might happen next, if the so-called leaders of all these parties do not get wiser, whteher pro-this or anti-that, I refer to a fantastically well done website;
Especially the facts page is a good reminder. I see many links.


Lazarus said...

yes, that website is truly a gem. there are some great articles in it.

- l.

Anonymous said...


The website is truly very fascinating. and I must confess, your balanced and unbiased statements about the situation gives me some sort of a balanced view, that I struggle to keep these days, when it is in need. I am, after all with one with one side of the conflict, but also hoping they can figure a way out soon. Until then, we'd have to wait.. and waiting is the problem.

mirane said...

a Dutch friend sent me the link to your blog and i've been following it ever since.. it's a breath of fresh air to find something unbiased about Lebanon, from within.
Thank you..I share ur opinion,absolutely, and i have chosen to stay away from all the political nonsense. The way tensions are mounting and homes are breaking up is ridiculous..My parents were from two "tribes", and i can now understand why they left each other! living in this atmosphere IS homewrecking, but i insist that the best national duty is, like you pointed out, to marry from the other tribe.