So there I was, early one morning seated at my computer desk enjoying the twittering of the birds floating into my space, rendering Erato to smile and to nudge my fingers effortlessly along when my husband walks into the adjacent living room and reaches for the remote. Click!
A rude, very rude, interruption occurs that sends Erato and all her poetic charms scurrying back to Mount Olympus as the depressing droning of the Arabic channel, Al-Jazeera, bleats the news!
I last all of ten minutes after which I stride vehemently towards the remote and switch the channel to CNN and the lilting, flirtatious voice of Carol Costello permeates the apartment! Aah!
“Why the hell did you do that?”
“Because I am Done! Done with listening to Al-Jazeera in the morning! That’s it! No more! Basta! (Italian) Finis! (French) Khalas (Arabic). I cannot stand their lamenting voices anymore!”
“And pray, who did you want to read the news from Al-Jazeera to you? Luciano Pavarotti?”
There you are! One of life’s amusing moments! Yet, the moment was also posing the East/West dilemma again; we and them; Arabs and Americans; those dividing lines, sometimes blurred, at times perceptible, but always present, tugging, nudging, pushing and shoving.
It was my husband, after all, who had pressured me into immigrating. I was a reluctant – very reluctant – immigrant. I wanted to go back to Beirut where the rivers of blood eventually dried up, though the war did continue on many other levels, and is still going on as events throughout the region manage to find their way, somehow or the other, back to the continuously boiling cauldron that is Lebanon. The entire region stretching from Pakistan to Yemen is a powder keg actually, and unless it is defused by some miracle, one day it is going to explode. That explosion will reverberate all around the globe. It is inevitable!
The plaintive voices on the Arabic Channel of Al-Jazeera are nothing but an echo of the lamentations of millions upon millions of innocent, unarmed human beings in the entire region not knowing how they can avert another catastrophe!
And the lilting, flirtatious voices of Carol Costello and all the other television personalities are nothing but an echo of how far removed we are from many of those problems that we, and our allies, are mostly causing!
It is so very schizophrenic to be in America sometimes! Certainly it is the case where our foreign policy is concerned. We lecture the world’s countries on everything from how to elucidate their constitutions; how to treat women; how to stop killing each other; how to enforce human rights! And yet, we have not explained our own constitution to ourselves; we are still arguing every day on what the “founders” meant and didn’t mean. We are, also, still debating how to treat women: as adults capable of making their own decisions regarding their bodies, or should wiser men make those decisions for us? We cry about how to control the firearms that are killing people on our soil, but think nothing of selling those same to the highest bidder! We sermonize about human rights and yet we have many in our jails whom we consider a threat and whom we have deprived of their human rights. And, we have secret prisons all around the world where we observe no human rights at all! We instruct countries to obey the United Nations resolutions and yet we – and our allies – choose to disregard those at will. The hypocrisy is enough to drive one bonkers!
Democracy and freedom are beautiful concepts. They are very, very arbitrary though! Aren’t they, America? However, the people of the world have long ago woken up from the comatose slumber of their colonialist years. They are aware of our clear hypocrisy and they know that we blatantly lie. Until when will that democracy and freedom charade continue?