Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings once again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

Gibran Khalil Gibran

An amazing poem, and one to which I catch myself nodding my head with agreement each time I read it. Each section of it is completely applicable to the Arab world of today. Assaulted from every angle by a concerted media/economic and military machine, it's identity, culture, religion and history are constantly trivialised, ridiculed or attacked. I can remember hearing sayings when I was a child, "If only the Arabs would unite". If only indeed... but what kind of nation would we be with our current state of mind? Would it actually be in our interest? I think not, as we need to fundamentally confront problems within our own nations and persons first. Human rights, justice, eradication of corruption. All are ideals which were once at home in the Middle East and can be again. Only then would we be able to benefit from the "lessons" that history is teaching us.

Perhaps the creation of Israel is the greatest gift the Arabs have had so far. Contesting a foe this powerful and dominating is like having a difficult teacher forcing the student to keep his standards up. Like Hannibal to the Romans, perhaps the colonialist and imperialist policies practiced by Israel can help the Arab world to emerge stronger? Maybe I'm asking too much, but one can always dream... All we need is some virtus, a dash of fortuna...and a bit of Ibn Khaldoun's Assabiyah renewed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny ... as I read this wonderful poem I heard it as a reminder to citizens of my country, the United States, of how easy it is, and how serious it is, for a mighty nation to decide that power is more important than principle.

Why is it that all mighty nations, cultures, or even individuals seem, eventually, to succumb to the temptation to put power over principle as we in the U.S. have most recently done?

It's a slow process, the degeneration of character, whether one speaks of a nation or a person. And then, one day, we turn and say, "my God, what happened to us - how did I become this monster?"

Unfortunately, the poet only described the disease, not the cure.

Is there a cure? What is it? Where can we find it? How can one apply it effectively, whether to a world, a country, or to one's own self?

Thanks for this wonderful poem. Good luck getting a "real job," as you say. But in the meantime, I hope you will keep blogging! Your sincerity and obvious thrist for truth are inspiring. My best wishes.