Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Damn you, Steve Austin

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I got it all wrong. All damn wrong.

Being so wrong should be commended for. If there was a Nobel Prize for this kind of thing, I should definitely get one.

When I was a kid, I believed that justice would always prevail. No matter what. Ok, so I watched too much TV. Steve Austin and the like. But a child has the excuse of childhood, and the innocence it carries with it. Innocence that will eventually come to pass. Over time.

Well, in my case, it didn’t.

Many years later, while Lebanon was in agony, dying under severe bombings, I was convinced that the world would come to our rescue. That it would never abandon us. Never abandon a people fighting for its freedom and independence. Not France, the birthplace of human rights. Not America, the land of the free and the six million dollar man. Impossible. Unthinkable. Absurd.

Indeed, they loaded their tanks, chartered their planes, geared their boys and boldly went to free Kuwait.

As for us, we were given to Hafez al-Assad. Perhaps as a reward for bombing, killing and crushing a people who did nothing to him. Who never broke a vase in his living room, never damaged Mrs. Assad dishes, and never pulled little Bashar and Maher’s hair. Then, for 15 years, they told us that military occupation was for our own good. That caning will soften our skin and muzzles will improve our dental hygiene.

But one day, a miracle happened. The little fairy of human rights woke up the sleepers of this world, blowing in their nostrils the twinkling dust of righteousness. Clash of cymbals. Drum roll. The community of nations stepped up. Hooray, we were going to finally have our freedom.


I believed that after the Syrians were kicked out, collaborators would suffer the fate of collaborators. Those who shamelessly licked the occupier’s boot and occasionally looted the country would be prosecuted, vilified, and hung by their feet. But a strange thing happened: not only they were not bothered, they were given a change of clothes and were presented to us as liberators, slayers of tyrants, defenders of the poor and helpless. And everyone who used to loathe them started to applaud them. And to cheer their names.

Strange how people are always ready to believe all the nonsense they’re told. And how eager they are to make it their own, then repeat it with uncanny certainty.

Good old positive me believed that one day all this would change. Through education. And culture. When people will go to school, to university, when they’ll travel, see new horizons, live other experiences, meet other beliefs, they’ll become smarter, more critical, less gullible. Wrong again. I realize today that the most educated are oddly the most gullible. So gullible in fact, that when I talk to them, I sometimes feel lost in the middle of a Kafka novel.

So I started wondering. Maybe it’s me. It must be me. I must be the problem.

I have to wake up and accept the obvious, the hard cruel fact that it’s perfectly natural for the Sopranos to govern this country and the Corleone to rule the world. For the strong to crush the weak, for the rich to get richer and for the poor to get poorer. Perfectly natural for lies to become truth and for truth to become lies. Perfectly natural to hail on Monday then hate on Sunday. Then hail again a few days later. To never abide by the principles you preach. To beat up your wife and let your elders die without medical care. Perfectly natural for green activists to drive an SUV, for girls to be sold at auctions and for Angelina Jolie to marry Brad Pitt.

Damn you, Steve Austin!

© Claude El Khal, 2012