Ever since I was old enough to appreciate a good piece of journalism I enjoyed Tueni’s Monday columns. I read them religiously for the very selfish reason of wanting to be a smarter consumer of news. Not to mention that they were a true pleasure to read: The work of a great writer, unique thinker and a genuine human being expressing very relevant forward-thinking opinion. Tueni’s strength of reducing the most complex issues into several hundred words of common sense, encompassing where things came from and where they’re headed without missing the key details necessary to grasping his entire vision on the topic of discussion, made him irresistible. That’s how Ghassan Tueni the giant of media, diplomacy, politics and intellectualism became everyone’s “friend” because he was accessible to anyone who could read and he made sense to the masses from the most simple of them to the most sophisticated: A true trait of genius in any field.
While reading him, I could always picture him writing those columns with focus and intention, cigarette in mouth and pouring his heart and soul into a few lines that will set the tone for an entire week for so many. His intense desire to analyze events in such a way to project the week, month or year ahead is another pillar in what makes up his genius. His were columns with real people in mind; people reading him to see a direction or a path, a master’s vision of the possibilities that lie ahead.
As one of the millions who depended on these brilliant visions to analyze events and put things in perspective, I will always be grateful to the hand that wrote and taught me so much about journalistic integrity and ethics. As well as the journalist’s responsibility to uphold the highest standards as s/he seeks the truth no matter at what cost, even if that meant harsh criticism, jail or even death.
How I will miss my ritual of kissing his hand, despite all his protests, and thanking my teacher and his hand that wrote with the great intention of making our world a better place.
To my dear Chadia Tueni, I send my heavy heart and prayers for strength and patience as she goes through this most difficult time. There are no words to describe this great woman and do her justice. Over the years she has taught me – as I’m sure she has taught many others -- lessons in humility, love, kindness and, above all, respect. She is love personified; she is dignity, generosity and humanity molded into a wonderful woman who has always shared Ghassan with all of us, students, admirers and friends, so graciously and unselfishly.
How sad will our visits be without Ghassan physically with us? The thought alone burns as hot coal, but somehow I feel, my dear friend, that you are prepared to be our rock as you always were Ghassan’s rock and inspiration. Thank you for sharing Ghassan’s genius and allowing us the opportunity to know him at a more personal level.
O, dear teacher, I know you are now in a place that knows no pain or suffering, and you’re looking to us with high expectation and great faith. I know you want us to continue in your footsteps seeking the light in everyone and seeking the truth in everything. I know you want us to carry the torch of your brand of journalism with the intention of informing, enlightening and making a difference.
As your faithful student, you have my promise to do so till my last breath.
In this last farewell, allow me to kiss the hand that wrote, the mind that thought, the heart that loved, the conscience that never tired from seeking the truth, and the spirit that suffered through life’s far too many challenges but never gave in. May your soul rest in peace until we meet again.