Monday, March 12, 2012

You Have Your History Books and We Have Ours

Ever since I was a child, the history we were taught was that of other nations and other people. We learned about the French, the British, the Germans and other European nations. We memorized what the Japanese have done through history and took tests on our region in light of World War I, World War II. We were encouraged to recite with pride and honor the drama of Lebanon’s ever-glorious independence from the French Mandate, which, as far as I’m concerned, can be reduced to a carved stone by a river.

Having grown up in the middle of war that stole my childhood and my teenage years as well as my early adulthood, I had the unfortunate fate of living through our modern history like millions others. We were rocked in the careless arms of civil war; we were told by various groups at various times that hate is necessary for survival. So, I have my own version of history, it resides in my head and other versions fill the head of every single Lebanese without exception. Millions of versions of the same events can play out daily in the memory of those who made it out alive albeit not necessarily in one piece.

My version of Lebanon’s history is a violent and ugly one. It involves killing and maiming in the name of leaders or religions, sometimes even sects and sub-leaders. My version of history in the entire Middle East and the world involves lies and fabrications about what really happened during massacres and relentless pounding of regions and wiping out of neighborhoods using the heaviest artillery laden with chemicals and enhanced with diabolic devices to make the crime even more heinous to reap more lives or bring the most damage.

My version of history involves neighbors turning against each other, a father and son in one family and two brothers from another family looking each other in the eye while committing the worst atrocities against each other. All of them calling themselves Lebanese and proud of it; all thinking they are saving the country from the “evil of the other.”

In my version of history everyone who participated in the war directly or indirectly is a criminal and should be tried as such. No end justifies the means in my book; no one can justify turning against your own people and terrorizing them with weapons and threatening them with assassinations to cut their disagreeing voices off.

You see in my history book, no one is innocent and we all participate either actively or passively in the racism that has become our staple and our flag.

I look around the Middle East and see authoritarian regimes that are latching on to the lie that they are better than their “subjects.” I see people having no choice but to cater to them and praise them because without them they will have no livelihood; or so they think. This, my friends, is modern day slavery for the lack of a better way to describe it. Those leaders will enslave us and make us feel lucky to be getting whatever we’re getting through them. But in the same way what they give today, be assured that they will take away as soon as you voice an opinion or show interests that go against their tide.

So, you end up with a Saudi Arabia that is doing everything it can to stifle the voices of dissent, a Bahrain where the monarchy is willing to exercise full force to quash an uprising, a Syria where a mad man is butchering his own people to teach them a lesson about disagreeing with their “master,” to Lebanon, where the same factions and militias who participated in massacres and brought a whole country down to the dark ages, are now bickering over THE History Book!

How many of the militias and political groups would like to write their own version of Lebanon’s modern history from that fateful Independence Day in 1943 onward? One? Two? A dozen? I guess those insisting on their book, want to make sure they are portrayed as victorious, heroic, noble, kind and deserving of the victory they are claiming for themselves. All the other groups have the same desires for sure.

Pity all of you if my history is ever published or taught to future generations. Pity all of you if the millions of history books in the memory and heart of every Lebanese is published and taught in schools. Millions of us are scattered around the world because of you. If we combine all your desired books all of you will be victorious; but if we combine our books, all of you will be the failures you have always been and you always will be. Your patriotism makes us sick. Your compassion makes us nauseate. Your victory makes us immigrate. Your rule makes us give up. Your heroism makes us hopeless.

You have your history books and we have ours. Yours are written by propagandists with a clear political aim to change the perception of history. Ours are written in the blood of Lebanese brothers and sisters, name-less, religion-less, region-less, leader-less, country-less and certainly history-less. Our history requires honest historians to record it, not bloody murderers!


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very moving article. Hopefully the younger generation will create a new future of peace for Lebanon. It is beautiful that the USA gave you a place of peace to start a new life. However, it is easy to tell you still long for change in your home country.

March 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found some really great books on the Middle East region on this site https://www.rimalbooks.com i think its a European publishing house, nevertheless, interesting collection of books. Enjoyed the article....!

March 13, 2012 at 11:47 AM  

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