Lately I often make myself promise to not watch the news, and I fail. If I don’t watch it on TV, I read it on the internet. I get so disturbed and lose sleep over the events taking place around the world but I just can’t stay away. And what happened yesterday in Nigeria, whatever is happening in the Middle East over the past days, or years even, is so overwhelming.
I personally have lived through civil war. I was in high school when the civil war in Lebanon started. And to think that such extremist militias are still active elsewhere and terrorizing innocent civilians is beyond my comprehension.
As a student living in the dorms, many were the times when we were awakened in the middle of the night by militia gunfire and bombs falling nearby. And later, one day on our way to work my late husband and I were stopped by gunmen and he (my fiancé at the time) was taken away at gunpoint while I was told to take the car and drive off because they were going to kill him.
Fear is universal. No matter what your religion or your social or economical status, there’s no fear like the one you feel when you are held at gunpoint for the only reason of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I don’t know why they let me go that day. The same way I don’t know why after torturing him for a day they let him go too. But I know I’ve been lucky and my loved ones were spared the pain.
I remember during those years how many people fled to Syria as refugees. Even much later in 2006, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon when my kids and I had gone back to say goodbye to my parents because we were moving to Canada for good, we had to cross the border to Damascus and fly out from there. And now it’s others, Syrians and Iraqis, who are fleeing to Lebanon for safety and shelter.
“I took to writing at an early age to escape from meaninglessness, uselessness, unimportance, insignificance, poverty, enslavement, ill health, despair, madness, and all manner of other unattractive, natural and inevitable things.” William Saroyan
This time even writing can’t calm the dread and horror I feel. And I can’t help but think of all the people and loved ones I have left behind. Family, friends, colleagues and all. I can’t help but be frightened thinking what will happen to them if those extremists take over or gain leadership.
I pray for their safety. I pray for the safety of all those innocent lives caught in the crossfire of some political or religious game. But at the same time I can’t help but wonder if there’s anything we can do as fellow human beings to help prevent human suffering.