One hundred and one years ago, Italian thinker Gramsci wrote an article about why he hates New Year’s Eve. A friend of mine sent me the article yesterday as both of us remained home troubled with the hyped energy everywhere, though we don’t think that it is a bad thing to have fun with loved ones, or to have a surge of possibilities and a fragile hint of hope in a clattered world, or even just to be mad whenever possible. However, we get what Gramsci meant when he talks about the loss of spiritual resonance with our collective dates. Gramsci says that New Year’s “Force us to lose sense of the continuity of life and life’s spirit.”
All this makes me think of Syria. After all what happened in the past five years in Syria, we more than anyone else, should realize and analyze the certainties that were descended to us from our ‘foolish ancestors,’ as Gramsci put it. What we accepted without questions took us all to a state of complete mess, a state where all we want is just to not to die, to a mere existence in the void of ethics and politics. Even our dates of collective joy were all descended and fixed by history, religion and authority, not one we made by our own will in our present. We even couldn’t agree on celebrating a date for the start of the uprising in Syria. Our collective actions are always hindered by ignorance and ego which always nulls our present. It is not just our fault, our government and society made sure this state endures.
A saying I read and embraced a while ago goes like this: “Hard times require furious dancing.” I have no doubt in the necessity of leisure and joy for a sustainable change, as long as it is yours and ours, our movement, our rhythm, our language and interpretation. For all the innocent Syrians suffering in prisons, refugees freezing and melting through seasons in tents between borders, lost souls looking for jobs and wresting the odds for new homes and lives, for those who are forced to fight by the regime or because the regime, those remained in Syria in medieval life conditions, we love and celebrate their enduring brave spirits, and their creative will to always find a way back to a dignified life. In this present, it is their time and their dates.
I am ending this short article with another part of Gramsci’s article: “I want every morning to be a new year for me. I want to evaluate my life every day and renew my life every day. No days budgeted for rest. I choose when to take a break, when I feel drunk with the intensity of life and I want to dive into my animalistic self to discover new energy. No false spirituality. I want every hour of my life to be new, always reconnecting with what has already happened. No day of jubilation with mandatory collective song shared with uninteresting strangers. Just because our grandparents and the grandparents of our grandparents had all of this jubilation, doesn’t mean we have to. It is nauseating.”
Yesterday, Russia Today Arabic page published a short article and a video about Syrian girls studying in Russia posing for a calendar designed to be sent to the Russian soldiers deployed in Syria in their aggression. Regardless of the reasons why these girls posed, and if they were Syrians in the first place, and if this is just a cheap propaganda by the Russian channel, but for me as a woman, I see no difference between this and the actions of extremist women who support and offer their bodies to terrorist groups online and offline. It is the same concept of seeing a woman as a tool serving a purpose, in this case it is the same purpose. The issue here is not what side they are on and what they are wearing. The issue is the use of women bodies to tickle the masculine imagination of a male soldier shelling children every day to encourage him to continue to do so.
The pages include only women, which indicates a disdaining perception of the Syrian society and considering it as a property, and to emasculate the community.
This calendar aims to present girls that seem to belong to a vulnerable certain group in the Syrian society that needs protection, but it came out as an invitation for enslavement especially when it is sent to a military entity.
As a woman and a dignified human I see this outrageous, shameful and unacceptable.
It seems that the question on who is winning in Syria, is preoccupying media and international affairs these days. But to ask who is winning indicates that there is a human achieving something; gaining an awaited victory. If there is any human face behind this who, it will be only a human skull. In wars, no one wins.
The question about who is winning in Syria is not valid. The real question is: What is winning in Syria? What is gaining momentum in the city of Aleppo, every ruined street at a time? What is turning a deaf ear to the cries and agonies of the tortured? What is perfecting the methods of death? What is sweeping the all symptoms of “unfit being” for the new ideology? The ideology of winning?
Darwinism is winning is Syria. Might is winning. And this is translated into a relief by those who feel that their personal safety is threatened by the outcomes of the war in Syria. They can rest assure now, since the Darwinism way of life is by their side.
As for us who are dreaming of another world, who believed in other interpretations of evolution, are still looking for the mighty flower under barrel bombs rubble. For now, we carry our courage and passion wherever we go.
I am writing this as Aleppo is being flattened by murderous who will never care what name or description we call them because they are too powerful to care, and we are too weak to own more than words. I am in the shadow, in pain, broken and disappointed, and most importantly: Disillusioned. The cause of freedom and dignity we set out for was just and long-overdrew. The free world will stand by our side, so we thought. But the free world is not as free as we liked to think. Pardon our naivety, decades in isolation and organized education and propaganda framed our beliefs.
Back in Syria, I used to wonder how are we still doing this life that is so undignified and instructed in a dogmatic way. Our patriotism, our religions, our way of life, our leaders, our state, our parents, our ruthless competition with each other, our corruption, our nepotism, all this was adapted to and sometimes praised, mainly by the regime’s supporters. An entire life with its full details was arranged around the abasement and degradation of the human spirit, to break any will left in the spirit. We secretly dreamt of other ways to live. Even our intellectuals who wanted to make a slight crack in the system failed over and over. All this because of the extreme petrified state of a brutal regime which controlled Syria, and because we were tricked by the appearances and never dared to question literally everything, and because our intellectuals were never inclusive and too self-absorbed. After decades of despotism in Syria, after the death of Assad senior, an entire country was inherited. The new regime was costumed just in the right way, keeping a fascist grip over the economic, political and social spheres. Now, the antagonisms created and curated by the Syrian regime worked in the most needed time. And the merciless attacks on civilians serves the ultimate goal: Exclude people from the public participation and push them back to the dwelling of mere existence using all needed gruesome means. To turn people into shadows with no weight, hopeless and helpless.
Since the uprising started in Syria, Syrians showed epic courage in defiance and standing up for what they believed in. It was a time of irresistible probability of change. Many activists were arrested, tortured and killed. Innocent civilians are bombarded every day with different kinds of weapons, millions displaced and are trying to find a safe refuge, many joined or were forced to go to the frontlines to fight their brothers and sisters, and all of us descended into shadows, dead and living. The world is flagrantly silence as the wheels of hell were lit and spin. As activists and believers in people’s right in owning their self-determination, we thought we were living in a logical world, but our definition of what is logic was wrong. We projected our own utopian perceptions on the nature of our current affairs, we failed to analyze it as it is: cold, ruthless, practical and compromising. How could we know better! Domesticated and fed the fallacies of our fathers and gods, besieged in our narrow box, kept lost in the labyrinth of determinism, and led by our engineered ego.
I confess that I was dogmatic like many others. I confess that I was led astray by selling my soul to elitism. I thought that the battle was tangible, was obvious and clear. It wasn’t. The moment I focused on what I saw, the hidden creeped under and pulled my legs. Now I seek refuge far away from a country and people I once called home and clan, waging my personal internal battles, seeking redemption, agonised by my moral ordeal of being saved as others are killed and starved and tortured and turned into void shells and refugees. The bottom line is, we don’t own ourselves now, we were owned, this is what crept unseen underneath us.
When we wanted change, we used the same slogans of the Syrian regime that were inherited from the colonial era. We didn’t invent anything new, nationalism, patriotism, borders, religion, women rights and diversity. From our angle, we kept on repeating what we were fed all these years on our harmony and diversity, but we were so good at lying at ourselves. It took one blow to shatter these empty words we held close but not engraved deeply. And when we screamed, we didn’t think that our echo can go either way, we were blinded by our good intentions before realizing that a flawed ambition is always subjected to a devastating setback. The criminal lunatics multiplied, we used to have one, Syrian regime and its Mukhabarat, now we have ISIS and other criminal lunatics. Brutes will mushroom to fill the void of definitions because we failed to form our own. Now how many enemies we must fight? We the barefoot, the mute, the displaced, the hollow words, the same repetitions. How will we fight the merciless thousands of years of certainty? Many don’t even believe in revising their beliefs, and those on the other side of anti-faith are as worse in their certainty.
How did we say we will bring change when the concept of authority is worshiped? When we are infested by the same disease that is overtaking the world, fame and likes, being the one, waiting for the one, fighting for the one. There is no such thing as “the one.” Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Syrians manifested unprecedented courage and lessons must be taken from their heroic actions. I will never forget the creative protests, the numerous songs, art, campaigns and altruistic actions; I will never forget the scene of Syrian refugees determinately walking through European borders marching toward what is rightfully theirs as humans, they are the true holders of the principles in which the European union was formed upon. Yet, they were set as targets of fear and hatred. How couldn’t the world see what this meant? How couldn’t we see.
An activist was asking where are the activists who used to campaign for Syria and why they are silent as a massacre taking place in Aleppo. Well my friends, not all activists were lucky or were willing to be financed or sponsored by a party or another. I fear that we made a lot of noise that the world became deaf, and at this level the only ones who can hear us are only us. Personally, I found myself unable to watch horrible massacres anymore, I developed a hypersensitivity of death and blood scenes that I fall into disturbed state when my eye catch a glimpse of what my friends or colleagues are posting online.
One thing I learned, media is a tool must be used with extreme caution, or you will risk turning into another cat video, another unfortunate happening that diminishes your value and humiliates your humanity. The only thing that keeps my head above water is people who are trying to live a normal life inside and outside Syria, nothing makes me happier than seeing someone creating, inventing, pursuing, looking after, a human, creature, land, or a thought. I say we live fiercely.
One friend wrote on his Facebook page that the destruction of Aleppo makes it look more like the face of the world now. I agree. It is sad to see a world trying to roll back into the mud of stereotypes and fear. We are all bound together. A slaughter was allowed to take place; criminals cannot be stopped because there are interests involved. Isn’t this terrifying? When might overruns human decency and dignity? Impunity is an ugly word. Impunity is prevailing in our world.
As Syrians, I believe we need to stir deeper and excavate the foundations beneath slogans and good intentions. A task that we, and only we، need to do. On my part, I am starting all over again, a trip to the past must be taken, a project for definitions and seeing ourselves in the new light.
Syrian child Omran Dankish was saved from under the rubble after a Syrian Russian airstrike destroyed his home.
Sadly, Omran’s older brother Ali died in the hospital that day.