An Incorrigible People*
Twenty-six days have passed since the ceasefire, and still that small sentence uttered by the Israeli army chief of staff incessantly gnaws at us: “We shall set back Lebanon twenty years”. I don’t know if there are noble wars, or “just” wars, but the acknowledged objective of that one was particularly vulgar. Great causes are needed for galvanizing troops. This savage aggression, stemming from a mean - if not jealous – attitude with its de-civilizing project, could only lead to failure. Failure or not, let us allow Israel to draw its conclusions and struggle with its contradictions. The time has come for us to attempt to live again. Attempt, because no other war – and we have lived through quite a few of them – has succeeded in affecting our morale like this one. Every time, we thought this would be the last war. That Lebanon would make it through. And every time, we rolled up our sleeves, becoming the image of resilience itself. But the gratuitousness of the July war has left us in a state of shock. So our land is then an arena where anyone who is itching for a fight can come and wage it with impunity? Will it ever end?
To live. To awaken our senses one by one; our eyes that could not see anymore, our ears that did not want to hear again, our taste buds that stopped finding any flavor, our skin that was sticky with ashes, dust, and blood, and our lungs that were nauseated by the smell of corpses. To watch once again the twinkling of the fishermen’s boats on the night’s indigo, like a shower of fireflies. To stare at the horizon without any worries. To catch the last remnants of this summer, which went by inconspicuously. Towards the evening, when the sun-crazed sea will have finished exhaling its steam, the mist will come tear itself, in its long descent, on the mountaintops that were turned pink by the setting sun. Strange islands will then emerge from the mountain. We will be watching, our hearts hanging to this celestial peace, floating amidst the exhausted clouds. Tonight, we promise to be attentive to the moonrise. For our eyes only, it will flow in a white cascade, and then it will draw closer like a wife and place its cheek on the hill. The air will smell of wet hay and jasmine, tender earth, crushed blackberries, the strong scent of green almonds, the sap beading on the pine tree bark, the fire of dry branches, and the hands that rub each other around the brazier. And all of a sudden, we will be home once again, and the best of what life has to offer will seem possible to us once again. “The world lives someplace else, but we live here, my love”. (Barbara)
*Original text "Incorrigibles" by Fifi Abou Dib published in l'Orient-Le Jour on Saturday, September 9, 2006.