We don’t want our country to be a playing field for games, great or small, by meddling neighbors or distant hegemons. You can instead respect our rights and sovereignty and see us as empowered people capable of helping ourselves, and the people around us, given a chance.
When I looked at that picture, I couldn’t help but compare the tragedy of my generation with that of our future children: We were born in war, but we had an Afghanistan, whereas our children will be born in peace, but they won’t have an Afghanistan. They will be strangers to the country of their parents’ birth.
To disbelieve in the existence of God in the Arab world is no easy thing. In countries where atheism is outlawed — it’s punishable by death in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia — many must keep their skepticism secret not just from family but also from society. Yet more and more of us are coming out of the closet.
We passed 10 firetrucks and other groups in helmets, some in bikinis and without masks. Half of us stayed put, and the other half rushed to help tug at a hose that slithered up a dirt slope and to deliver water bottles to those up there working.
The Lebanon we loved was a palace of myths, legends and lies. But it was, and is, the home we chase. In the Beirut blast, we all lost something. Some of us lost everything. Since then, overcome by loss and lostness, people have just fallen into sudden silences from time to time.
Satire won’t change anyone’s mind, but it might get someone sitting on the fence to consider another perspective. Satire won’t topple thrones, but it will unsettle their occupants. It won’t change rules on freedom of speech (except maybe in the wrong direction), but it will remind people what freedom of speech looks like.
I think of the Lebanese lords, whose own generals now call “cruel, dishonorable, and shameless”; whose own advisers describe as “too stupid to understand or too selfish to care, or both”; and whose own intelligence hands believe are crooks who will only liberate Lebanon, and even then not certainly, when they die.