February 21, 2016

For the Dust to Settle

The sound of running water was everywhere; spring has announced itself. This was a short winter indeed.

A Dutch correspondent is leaving Lebanon this month; He's been here five years. In his farewell story, “I’ve done my last war” (in Dutch), he states he sees no hope for this region any time soon.
Hope slowly seeped away as ruthless bloodshed took its place, fed by the opening of decade old wounds, and fueled by local players who intend to increase their power base in the new Middle East, which supposedly will appear as soon as the dust settles and the fighting stops; I will not be around to experience it. I’ve done my last war.”
He will not be around to experience the dust to settle. I am a hopeful person, but sometimes I wonder the same. Will I experience peace in this region?
Some 8 years ago, I was questioning here whether maybe we were on a sinking ship. You don’t notice right away that your ship is sinking: It takes some time before the ship takes on enough water to start to list.
Now, instead of just us (Lebanon) listing, it seems the entire Middle East is heeling to one side. Some areas have already keeled over.
The Americans are sleeping with the enemy (the Iranians) and although they have not yet dumped their old bed partner (Saudi Arabia), they’re not exactly faithful lovers anymore. All this does not bode well for stability in this region.

Good news though is that it seems all reservoirs have been filled by the winter rains. Maybe we will have enough water to make it through this summer
I am, overall, a hopeful person, and I realize that – even when things go wrong - it is not the end for all. Experience has taught me that even in the midst of a war, life will go on as usual for many.
You’d be surprised, but I know of areas in Syria, where life is much the same as it has for many years. There is no fighting there, no ISIS and no bombardments, and if you wouldn’t read the newspapers, you wouldn’t know there was a war going on. Maybe they no longer have 24 hours electricity, and their country has ‘shrunk’; most areas are no longer safe to go to. But they do their shopping in the morning, go to work, prepare their lunches and dinners, celebrate birthday parties and visit each other on Sundays
In 2006, when many Lebanese were killed, and others had to flee, because of intensive Israeli bombardments, others continued their daily lives as if nothing was happening. Unless your house gets a direct hit, or your neighborhood is under siege, life needs to continue. One adapts.
An American friend in town is convinced that in two years from now, a peace deal will have been struck in Syria, and everything will be back to normal. Well, accept for the massive destruction.  From an outside point of view, that may very well be.
We smile at his innocence and enthusiasm.
He thinks that all the beheadings, the raping and the looting will be forgotten and forgiven, just like the Tutsis in Rwanda, who seem to be getting along fine, even though they once literally decimated one another on a massive scale only 20 years ago. I doubt that; people here still talk about massacres in the mountains that took place over a 100 years ago. Wounds do not heal that fast. People have a long memory in this place.

Reservoirs filled to the brim on Jabel Knisseh
As I said, I am in general a hopeful person, but whereas the friend thinks the end is in sight, we think that the war has only just begun. The Dutch correspondent is leaving; he knows he will not be around to experience it.
And these days, I even wonder if even my children will be around to experience the dust to settle.

1 comment:

Elie Touma said...

Wonderful photos and even more touching text. I am glad to hear your optimistic thoughts and attitude. I personally hope that the dust will settle soon.
Thanks again for the lovely article and beautiful pictures.