As you probably know, last week was my graduation, yet the depressing world news has been acting like a thick dark cloud overshadowed whatever joy I might have experienced. In general, I have been subdued, and watching my humor level go stale like popcorn that’s been left open to the air. Why? It’s the helplessness of seeing something that is extremely wrong, but not knowing what to do about it.
Watching the news has a numbing effect, making you detached from your own being – as though you are watching yourself watching the news in stunned silence – unable to react because you are too shocked to even react. They’re horrendous; the images coming in from Syria. Sometimes, you watch the news and can do nothing else but try to fall asleep afterwards because it’s too upsetting and you’re too depressed, yet the question is, with the images playing at the back of your mind, can you fall asleep?
A long time ago, because of the difficulty of communication, most of the news that reached our ancestors were local news – related to people they knew; people they could reach. So they were active people, the sort of people who jumped up to their feet and reacted to the news immediately. With the birth of mass media, and our ability to watch news that happens – as it happens – half across the globe, we have been transformed into passive people since we are impeded by the lack of proximity of the region, the closed borders and the inactiveness of people with power to do something. This passiveness has turned us from people who could cause change to sideline spectators who can only react by speaking and condemning.
Many people died in the Al Houla massacre last week, and to some people they may just be represented by a number. But they are not statistics. They are people who laughed and cried, people who hoped and loved, people who dreamt of a better tomorrow; a tomorrow they wouldn’t live to see. One story that went around was that of Bassil Shahade, the grad student who returned to Syria to film the revolution, and yet his story is just one of many.
If you’ve been following my writing since the very beginning (2007), this particular post might actually ring a bell because all I did was modify a note I published on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 titled “The Deafening Silence – On Gaza.” And it’s truly sad to think that we are seeing in Syria something that produces the same anger, frustration and sorrow that was produced when Israel was hitting Gaza back then. It just shows that this didn’t start here, and will probably not end here.