lunes, 14 de noviembre de 2011

Forgiving Beirut

I think nothing in life is a coincidence.

Remember my last blog post? When I was wondering why I was so angry in Beirut?

Well, it turns out I was at this magnificent conference this weekend. The conference was about healing past traumas, individual and collective. And I got some insights into my experience, as part of a collective experience in Lebanon.

I am someone who works on conflict prevention, but on a governmental/institutional level. I had never being exposed to the psychology of war and trauma. I must say that I had to put my brain in check at some points, as us "peace warriors" tend to "know" a lot of things about conflict, and have a lot of labels and fancy words to describe it. This conference was not really about the know, but on a deeper, more subtle level.

I think what really moved me about this conference was that it talked about what war does to people. About why people go to war. About how wars get transmitted from one generation to the other. About how people feel and think after they have been exposed to a war.

I was in the room with a mostly Lebanese audience. And as we all saw speakers, some of whom had been victims of war's atrocities themselves, share their experiences, I sensed deep sadness and sorrow in the room.

There were times when people were silent, there were times when people spoke and had to stop because they couldn't go on anymore. There were times when people were angry and frustrated. There was sometimes resignation and skepticism.

But mostly, there was a gentle determination to remain in the room, to listen and to learn.

One of the things I learnt was that 7 out of 10 people in the country were we live have seen a war event (loss of a loved one, loss of property, murder, bombs, etc.) at least once in their life. I also learnt that 10 out of 60 Lebanese have a mental health condition and only 1 seeks professional help.
I also learned that the more war atrocities one has seen in one's life, the more propensity one has to experience some behavioral condition in life (no matter when the events happened).

My Lebanese friends rarely speak about the war. And why would they? Isn't it a normal reaction, just wanting to move on?

But yet, it is so important to talk...

I witnessed this weekend people from Rwanda, Lebanon and Ireland forgiving the people who killed their loved ones. And not only in the surface, with a little smile, for self-gain or out of disdain. I mean a true sense of forgiveness, where the humanity of the other is embraced, and acknowledged. Where a genuine compassion is possible and gives the opportunity for self healing. I saw how the gift of forgiveness liberates our perpetrators, and honors our deep power to love one another.

I learned in this conference is that we all have our own internal wars. Some of them are due to external factors, and some of them are not. And the easy and common way is to respond with anger, to blame, to hold a grudge and to seek revenge.

I must say that today for the first time I can say I understand Lebanon a little better. On a deeper level. I witnessed the hurt, the fear and the sorrow. The need for revenge and redemption. And I also witnessed that beautiful resilience of the Lebanese. I heard the soft whisper of those who want to be free from the past. Who are willing the work for a bright future in a country that embraces all differences.

I feel full of hope for this country that is so dark and so bright at the same time. I am in awe at the power of people who want to emerge from the ashes of despair and hatred. I saw the deep longing for love and brotherhood. There are no coincidences as I said. I understood this weekend why I had to come here.

3 comentarios:

  1. Wonderful article and so true! This conference made me (as a Lebanese) realize why our society is always angry! :)
    Khaled Hamadeh

  2. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.