martes, 18 de junio de 2013

Fifty Shades of Lebanese Grey

A few weeks ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning and did what everyone does: I checked my e-mail. I had 2 messages awaiting in my inbox: one, from the security services saying that there had been a violent clash in Tripoli and residents were leaving the area. Two, an invitation to a beach party in Batroun.

Source: Lonely Planet

Go along the coast line up North. Yup, that is about a 30 kms (18.6 miles) distance between the two places. In my book, that is not very far. How is this possible?

Well, this is the perfect example of the illusion of war, or that of peace. While something devastating, violent and horrifying is happening, life goes on in other places. I knew that intellectually, I mean, violence and war are occurring in many places in the world as we speak. I just had never experienced it this close

Recently, I've had to face my pre-conceived notion about what war (or peace) looks like. In my mind, when there is war in a country, then all is black. When there is peace, all is white. In Lebanon, we have been living in a comfortable grey, that has been getting darker lately, but remains grey all the same. And people in Lebanon are very comfortable in the grey. 

For instance: I was in a traffic jam the other day and two people started honking, then yelling, then the fist fight started. My first thought was immediately dramatic and I thought " I hope they don't have guns". As I drove frantically around this to "escape", I looked 25 metres ahead and saw a couple kissing passionately. 

No big deal. It's just a fight, right? 

However, I constantly feel this fear that we are all like the frogs in the pot, and that as the temperature rises in the country and we pretend nothing is happening- we keep living in the grey- one day, we will fail to see danger until its too late. And we will get boiled. 
Source: The Atlantic

But a conversation with a Lebanese colleague, opened my eyes. People in Lebanon are not in denial.  They are, in fact, very aware of what is happening. But this war just doesn't affect them anymore, or at least not the way it affects me.

We were in the elevator with him and another friend, and I was asking them about what they thought of "the situation". And they told me: "We hate to break the news darling, but you are living in a country at war." Then I looked at them, both spotting this suberb tan, and said "But you are still going to the beach!". They both smiled in the oh-you-poor-little-foreigner way and said "Dear, no one stops going to the beach, just because there's war".

Fifty Shades of Lebanese Grey.

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