Friday, August 28, 2015

To those who justify violence

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To those who justify violence and label it "acts of desperation caused by poverty": are Lebanese rioters poorer than the people of India during British rule, are they more desperate than African Americans during the civil rights movement?

And you, are you more experienced revolutionaries than Gandhi or Martin Luther King? Did you achieve better goals than free a country as vast as a continent, without striking one blow? Did you, with just your words, your voice and your presence, deeply transform the conscience of a whole nation?

We are lucky enough to have seen, throughout history, that other ways have been tried and proven to be more powerful than any violence ever attempted.

Gandhi said: "be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show you won’t strike back, nor will you be turned aside. And when you do that, it calls on something in human nature that makes his hatred for you decrease and his respect increase."

Any common thug can scream, break and burn. But it takes great courage to never retaliate, to always stay calm, peaceful, but determined nonetheless.

The biggest challenge today, is to bring people together. Not to alienate such and such. Except a very few, no human being has a complete closed mind. Not every adversary is an enemy, not every politician is rotten, and not every man in uniform is a fascist.

It’s too easy to put everyone in the same basket. It’s easy and wrong. Because it diffuses responsibility. And that’s the best gift one can offer a thief or a criminal.

Those responsible for the ruthless repression against peaceful demonstrators should be held accountable for their unforgivable actions. That’s a worthy and legitimate demand. Everything else is just teenage rant.

The men in uniform, some so easily and foolishly call “pigs”, would be the first to die if Daesh truly decides to invade Lebanon. They would die for you and me. They would die so we can continue to voice our opinions, so we are free to express our anger, without being beheaded, crucified or burned alive.

It’s unacceptable to insult and abuse them. Do you really believe they want to be there, facing you? Don’t you think they’d rather be by your side? Don’t you think they’re as not as angry and as fed up as you are?

As for politicians, even those in office, do you believe in all honesty they’re all rotten? That, among them, there’s no honorable responsible men? Men who’d like nothing more than to join us, but who are stuck in a vicious system, they’d be the first to bring down if they could?

Why don’t they do it then, one may ask. How would they? Haven’t we seen members of government forced to resign because they refused to be corrupted? Haven’t we seen prominent figures isolated because they stood up to the ruling mafia?

Not so long ago, Lebanon was under the Syrian boot. Not so long ago, intellectuals and politicians were murdered. Not so long ago we all resigned our citizenship and choose to drink and dance rather than complete our revolution.

After all, they’ve seen how frivolous and superficial we can be.

It’s our unwavering determination that will make them want to join us. We need all the help we can get, don’t we? We need to show them that they can count on us if they cross the Rubicon, that we would stand by them, no matter what.

By justifying violence, you make it impossible for them to join us. You make impossible for anyone to join us, for that matter. You even make it impossible for most of us to stay the course.

If someone needs to blow some steam, then he should join a gym or a boxing club, not come to a peaceful demonstration and spoil everything.

So I urge you, on Saturday, remember Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

@ Claude El Khal, 2015

From from the movie "Gandhi" (Richard Attenborough, 1981)

Photo by Hassan Shaaban / Daily Star

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