Saturday, March 11, 2006

they are priming themselves

I barely read The New Republic. I am also only vaguely aware of the Hayyabina organization. But maybe fate led me to an article written in The New Republic by Annia Ciezadlo, in which an official from Hayyabina was quoted.
I say that because I found something that I have searched for, ever since I returned from my trip to Lebanon. For over a month, I struggled to find the words and the courage to express what I saw, heard and felt while I visited in January. Alas... after almost loosing that battle, and by complete accident, my struggle is now over.
Lokman Slim, one of the founders of Hayyabina, said the following about the reality in Lebanon today

... [W]e are living in what some sociologists call the `priming period.' Mentally, [Lebanese] are ready to fight.

The priming period.... If there is any one phrase that encapsulates almost everything that I experienced in Lebanon while I was there, "the priming period" is it.
Some in the blogosphere have asked why my temperment changed after returning from Lebanon... why I wrote differently. Well... the reason is that I learnt a few things while I was there.
I learnt that everyone in Lebanon was acutely aware of the uselessness of words. I learnt of the futility of attempting to convince other Lebanese to take a stand other than what he or she "was supposed" to take. I learnt that blood was on the line... And that when blood is on the line, words are cheap.
On the streets of Beirut, you hear it again and again: Sectarian tensions are higher today than in 1975, when the country plunged into its 15-year nightmare of internecine carnage. "This polarization is much more threatening for me than a frank war where people are killing each other," says Lokman Slim, a founder of Hayyabina ("Let's Go"), a civil society group that promotes a secular Lebanon. "In fact, we are living in what some sociologists call the `priming period.' Mentally, they are ready to fight."


frencheagle said...

@ raja

if u re reading french, there is an article i would like u to read about how the secterian tension are getting higher due to rafic hariri action in the past
check out that link i posted long time ago!87518942521B2CF2!1187.entry

Anonymous said...

Raja, in other words you learnt that if everybody else is doing it why can't you?
Too bad ...

Thing is, being here in Lebanon I know at least 4 million lebanese like the new Raja. Bassita.


acrobat said...

settle down...
maybe this could help:

ghassan said...

Such analysis is based on nothing else but hubris and arrogance. Just because sociologists have coined a word to describe after the fact what phases animals go through is no grounds whatsoever for one to make policy conclusions in the real world. Are you being serious when you ask people to take a certain point of view seriously only because it is based on a feeling that the researcher developed during a vacation?

If it so happens that the Lebanese do start some sort of a fight then one would be in a position to say I told you so. And if nothing happens then we will never hear anything about this "feeling". What are the risks involved in making such a projection? Very low indeed. They are exactly the same as flipping a coin, 50% chance that a fight errupts and 50% chance a fight does not.

I am sorry to say that, but this recommendation sounds very sophomoric!!!!

Mustapha said...

Ghassan, easy on Raja. I think the purpose of his post is to be a wakeup call for complacent Lebanese..

"watch it! If we don't work very hard to fix things, the Lebanese could get at each other's throats and it's not as unimaginable as you think", he seems to be saying..

acrobat said...

... and blogging from abroad while uncritically following so-called "leaders" whichever way they turn will save the day.

things are in process, stop worrying about it, there's not much more you can do. at least try to keep a critical eye on things, and if those in charge now fail us in the end, what's stopping another, real, 14 march uprising? if we could rise against the syrians, surely we could do it again against jumblat, berri, hariri, aoun, and nasralla (not to mention nassib lahoud and the other bozos)
(and we can always practice with that game linked to above :) )

Anonymous said...

I think you are all correct. Indeed, we are gaining back our sectarian instincts, which had been silenced temporarily by Mr. Hariri's martyrdom. But also, we did demosntrate our potential to cause change by mass protest. Interesting times are ahead of us..


Sam said...

This is beside the subject, but I heard Lokman Slim and Monica Borgmann speaking at the premiere of "Massaker" a documentary they co-directed (mainly interviews with ex-Phalangist militia members who were among those who carried out the Sabra and Chatila massacre), and I have to say that it was extremely refreshing to hear what they had to say (especially after the nerve-wrecking movie). They were both very well-intentioned, unpredjudiced and conscious of all the factors that were at play back then, and that are at play now, and above all they were very humble. Even if the movie doesn't give that impression, the directors are not condemning the amnesty law, but questioning the Lebanese way of dealing with the memory of the war.

Check out the official site of the documentary:

Raja said...

thanks for the comment, sam. I'll check the link out.