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.