Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Somewhere, Sometime...

When the tragedies keep piling up it's easy to think that they are all a series of disconnected events, happening in a void and without any connection. But the misfortunes, the horrors, the calamities, stretch into the past like beads on a string. Hindsight is treated like a dirty word, but I find myself wondering whether all these people who had been walking about their daily lives six years ago wouldn't still be here if things had turned out differently. If, instead of shooting people, Assad said he was going to reform the country, if he said there would be elections at some level, if he stopped the brutality, the torture, maybe even the corruption, that so many had rose up against, then many of these people would be with us today.

This morning I find myself thinking about Hamza al Khatib, about a man I saw in a video clip with his jaw blown off by a sniper, about Marie Colvin, about the Russian and Turkish pilots who had been shot down, about Anthony Shadid, about Father Paulo, about Mustafa Shadoud and Ghiath Mater, and even about the Russian ambassador, and about countless others. All of them would be alive today, all of them would be with their families and loved ones instead of under the ground. And all for what? For power? For money? For history? It's so ugly and futile, so exhausting to try and grasp for reasons blindly. Everything's just a big nothingness, and it swallows us all in the end.

When this is over, and it will be, I fear for those who are left. For the bitterness and anger and the broken lives that are going to be left behind. Maybe some of us can hold on to an idea of what it meant like to be Syrian and live a normal life. To remind others of the simple pleasures of friendship over a meal and a drink. Of an afternoon coffee. Of a late night spent talking, and smoking a nargeeleh while playing card games. Of concerts in a park. Of busy and crowded markets. Of love at first sight from a fleeting glimpse through the crowd. Of the worry of exams and the joy of a summer free from school. All these things we had once, and I hope we find again. Somewhere and sometime when this is over.

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