As you read this, many people in southern Lebanon are suffering the effects of dreadful acts of violence. In writing this, the purpose is not to present an analysis of the situation in the region, for it is all too easy to obtain that on television with the click of a remote, or on the internet with the click of a mouse.
But what are lost in these “objective news reports” are the voices of innocent people, who are actually in the midst of chaos and injustice; lives that are undermined and neglected by their own government; souls on which the feeling of unfairness bears a much heavier burden than the missiles that destroy people's houses and communities.
When I went for a vacation with my family to Lebanon this summer, little did I know that it would end with us escaping to the Syrian borders to return to Dubai. Ever since the attacks began, I lost a sense of security as many others did. Sometimes I wondered if what I was experiencing was, in fact, real or a figment of my imagination, stimulated by a sense of fear. But in truth I knew it was very much real, and what I saw and heard will always leave prints in my mind and heart.
Many fled from southern Lebanon heading toward the mountains, in the central region of the country, to escape the bombings. Many more were worried about their loved ones and friends in the troubled areas. Our neighbors, who were from Beirut and who usually spent their summer in the mountains, left to get the rest of their relatives to a safe place. I later learnt that they lost their house but fortunately the rest of the family members were rescued.
If there’s one thing that a crisis gives rise to, it’s a sense of community and mutual cooperation. During the shootings people instinctively helped each other, and in the midst of confusion, people impulsively collaborated. Some even gave up rooms for refugees to use.
Everything around me seemed to lose its color, taste and shape. We all came to value what should always be a priority, but is lost in the craziness of our commercial society: the value of an individual's life and safety. While political leaders “negotiate” and make decisions, lives are lost; while analysts analyze the content of these decisions, houses are demolished; while we formulate theories and discuss the “political situation in Lebanon,” thousands expect us to help them, but in vain.
Many tourists and residents, us included, used all our efforts and strength to get ourselves and our families out of Lebanon, and after a desperate struggle, we were able to finally make it to a safe side. Many people chanted on the Lebanese-Syrian borders and the airport to just take them out of Lebanon.
However, what I went through is nothing in comparison to the people who were and are still living under siege. I only experienced four days of complete fear; namely fear of the unknown, fear of not knowing what to expect, fear of losing my family. Every time I looked at my mum's worried face, I prayed to God it would not be the last time I would look at her. Every time I got a call from my brothers in Dubai, I prayed it would not be the last time I'd hear their voices. I prayed and I prayed.
One of the roads that we went through was bombed an hour before we crossed it, and after I had reached Dubai, I heard it was completely destroyed. We were able to make it because we set all of our efforts to reach home, and, of course, we prayed for our safe return. In these times, people don't just sit down, talk or complain, but they go ahead and do something about it. Numerous tourists were able to leave by their own or their respective consulates’ efforts. The same amount of effort and determination can help many people across the world.
In my heart there is guilt of leaving behind many people that I had come to know very well, and with whom I had shared ideas, discussion, laughter, and food. When one experiences such a crisis first-hand, one gets weary of watching people just express anger and frustration. We already know what's going on and we know what will happen next. More importantly, we know what should happen and how to go about it - it only needs determination and effort. The worst and best thing in life is the feeling of fear. In war, it is hard to eliminate that sense; at one point it shelters in one's mind and soul. Nevertheless, in such times, perhaps it alone may be the motivating factor that can push people to deal with the situation.
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Excellent... Ayman el Hakea
| Aug 7th, 2006
Excellent peace of literature that combines emotions, humanism, traveling, and actual experience of the author...masha'Allah.
I hope everyone in TIG and elsewhere would feel how is it to be in a warzone.
| Sep 22nd, 2007
this is so real and pathetic.I wonder if we can stay in a world without war,a world with a peacefull people living happily
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