It eludes me sometimes; the things we choose to care about as Arabs. The way we can watch the news and inhale certain pieces; the connections we make during a single nightly broadcast. From the genius to the layman, we seem to have the same allergic reactions to the crumbling environment around us. And like a wildfire, the spark comes sprawling in from no where; a blind spot. The tunnel vision of our human condition.
Is it that we’ve become anesthetized by way of the mass media and the constant redundancy of stories that we’ve lost the ability to distinguish between what matters and what doesn’t? Is a mosque, a stone structure, more important than the blood of thousands upon thousands?
Does the urgent crowd out the important?
Our masses pick and choose these moments so delicately, so explicitly, that I frantically search for the method behind the madness. The things we choose to care about in the grand scheme of things.
Maybe we’re all just tired. Maybe we’ve been worn down by tragedy upon tragedy.
Like ragged soldiers crawling through the desert on our hands and knees, in search of water, continuously unfulfilled with the paranoid illusions the sands have to offer. This is our Arab world, our Arabian reality.
The greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness; starving, hysterical, naked.
The word ‘Palestine’ has been devalued and shelved, collecting dust. Iraq faces a similar destiny.
As has Lebanon. And so on and so forth. Their market shares fluctuate in proportion to their tragedy.
Until a new crisis emerges, a new pain replaces an older pain. Like the excitement of a summer fling. The thing about the consistency of being punched over and over again is that sooner or later the blows begin to feel like the pricks of a needle and the body adjusts. The pathways to the mind that suggest pain, they simple subside and the body adjusts. Until a new pain; a different pain.
And the feeling of something unique, something new; that feeling wakes us up from our transient comatic state and suddenly, so suddenly, the rusty cogs of the machine within us begin to turn and this pain carries a new excitement.
Then of course, the machine shuts down and we fall back into our coma; our regularly broadcast schedule.
And the circumstance, the new reality, simply ups the dosage of anesthetic. We adjust to the new pain.
The body counts have no names.
Nothing to make us feel connected to them in any way. Simply a location, a religion and a sect. Like dog tags. Civilians become soldiers and the masses become the audience.
I find the hardest part not in the waking but in the sleeping; those calm and silent stretches of time and space where nothing seems to happen. When there is no crisis.
In reality it’s an ongoing crisis. We’re just taken to a new height where we eventually plateau. The new pain becomes an old pain. Where the death of one person is now equal to the death of a hundred, to the death of a thousand. And so on and so forth.
Glued to the television screen where the images of our death and destruction are ongoing with only short commercial breaks in between.
I find the most inspiring part to be the awakening.
When we drag ourselves through the streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.
Cartoons, speeches, a mosque, a child, a death, a massacre, a tragedy, the colors of a flag, a single drop of blood. Blame anyone, blame everyone (but ourselves).
A reason to get up again. Anything to make us feel alive again. To feel that spirit again. It doesn’t matter what you’re marching for anymore. It’s the march itself that matters. It reminds us that we used to care about something and that perhaps we still do. It’s about hope. It’s about curling your fingers and discovering you can still make a fist; opening your mouth to discover you still have a voice.
But then we adjust.
Until a new crisis comes around.
And some one ups the dosage once again.