Friday, August 7, 2009

The Bullet Hole Post

I saved this one until I could think about it some more. This is the one that affected me the most. Twenty years on, and the rich build new buildings while the poor and the ordinary continue to live in structures riddled with bullet holes. This is the contradiction that hurts. This is the contradiction I can't understand. This is what makes me wonder how they don't rise up against their nepotistic government, rise up united against those who only seek to get rich no matter how many they leave in the dust. This is where I realize my good fortune, where the superficial comparisons to the more developed countries end. This is where I grab my passport not as a badge to brag about where I've been, but as a blessing I don't feel I deserve.

This is reality.

Yet, life still goes on. And you're left to wonder about the resilience of the human soul. All of those deaths, all the blood, all the destruction, all the hatred...yet they still live, they still breathe, they still dance, they still hope.

Life makes no sense to me.

This place was an apocalypse twenty years ago. I don't know how anyone could have come out of that sane (and is anyone there who lived through it really sane? When people say they are afraid to drive anywhere, when half the country floods the airport and the roads out of town because six fighter jets pass over the city - even though they were the Lebanese Army - is anyone older than 25 really sane there?)

You know, I walked by the old American Embassy and didn't realize it until I was back in DC. It was a pile of rubble overlooking the ancient blue of the Mediterranean. There was no building there, just a bunch of rocks. I was probably too distracted by the beauty of the sea to realize I was standing next to the place where more than two hundred United States Marines took their last breaths. But god, two hundred deaths was nothing compared to the tragedies of the fifteen year war. And that was just the 1975-1989 stuff - there were the 1860 massacres, the first civil war in 1958, and all of the Israeli crap in the last two decades.

And why didn't we call the fifteen year civil war World War III? Every power in the world was involved in that catastrophe. The US was playing both sides in supporting the barely functioning Lebanese government and giving Israel free reign under the table. The French were there, the British were there, the Saudis were there, the Syrians were there...what a freaking mess.

What. a. freaking. mess. It's been twenty years. Two decades. But so many buildings are still riddled with bullet holes.

I went to Belfast the day after the peace treaty was signed in 1998. It's the only thing I can compare to this, and it's nothing like Beirut. I've never seen brightly colored laundry hanging off a balcony of a bombed out building. I've never seen a wartorn highrise in which the first three floors are inhabited and six above them cannot be.

Anyone who thinks war is glorious, anyone who says there is honor in battle, anyone who supports a government who would go to are responsible for these holes. You have blood on your hands. It matters not what country is involved - the mentality for war is universal.

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