Music for peace: Gibran Khalil Gibran on the art of music (1905) & DJ Mahdi on the art of protest (2019)

According to Gibran Khalil Gibran (1905), “music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife”.

According to DJ Mahdi (2019), ” music is what keeps the revolt peaceful and beautiful. No fights and no sectarianism”.

DJ Mahdi has been rocking the Lebanese revolution with music every night in Tripoli (the second largest city of Lebanon).

Music is all about having fun in peace and in the hope of more peace.

When a whole crowd is dancing to the same beat, music unites the population.

Lebanon and the whole region need more music.

Thank you DJ Mahdi!

A new Lebanese song entitled “All of us means all of us”

Picture to the right from France 24

Below is a short sample of this beautiful song:

Bambi will try to translate the lyrics for you as follows:

We are here.

We will remain here.

We were waiting for our salvation but it turned out that we are the solution.

Hand in hand, with a will of iron.

One heart, we walked together telling the whole world:

We, the Lebanese people, our story is not ordinary.

And our identity became a country.

“All of us for our country, for its glory, and for its flag!” (words from the Lebanese anthem).

All of us means all of us.

We are creating Lebanon.

We have been dreaming of a country for a long time.

All colours and all confessions (= religions or sects) are drawing Lebanon.

Today, we have realized these dreams.

We wrote history and we united our Lebanese flag.

Us, the Lebanese people, got rid of sectarianism.

And our cause turned into loving our country.

All of us for our country. All of us means all of us. We are creating Lebanon.

We forgot the past and we are looking forward.

Hand in hand, with a new mindset, we are creating Lebanon.

Censorship in the name of political correctness: Isn’t the role of theater play artists to play roles?

A 22-year-old social justice hardcore activist, called Maisaloon Al-Ashkar (https://checkyourhead.org/people/maisaloon-al-ashkar/) and her peers, calling themselves “No Blackfaces in Vancouver” protested against a theater play in Surrey. The school hosting the production decided to cancel it:

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1819727&jwsource=cl

Funny, how these cultural “terrorists” (killing any form of arts they find offending) did not pick up on a man playing the role of “Im Hussein” or another lady (“Im or Om Hussein” refers to his mom in Arabic). They did not start a whole saga around gender appropriateness.

Maybe they tried? Who knows? Arab-Americans do not seem to see themselves as victims to that degree that Bambi calls “acute victimhood” (she usually uses the term in French, “victimite aiguë”).

Of course, Bambi is saying this and she is 100% against disrespect to any person or any group in our society, from any origins (African, Haitian, Chinese, Arabs, French-Canadians, Anglophones, Iranians, Jews, Muslims, tall folks, short people, and what have you).

In the context of arts, painting one’s skin or wearing a mask or pretending to be a black person or an Arab or whatever else is NOT blackface in the true sense.

This is simply art, even if artists would be satirically imitating someone.

Arts is all about free creativity.

If we do not like this sort of art, we do not have to purchase a ticket. Plus, how about learning to grow a thicker skin for once, whether its colour is yellow, black, or white?

Artists may choose to pretend to be a chair, if they wish, or even an insect (e.g., “Greta’s” new insect, if they like; yes there is a species now called Greta as tribute).

They may imitate a Moose or even God, if they wish.

P.S: This is clearly different from the blackface meant to make fun or humiliate black people (a hate act).

Why are we allowing this form of censorship of arts to take place again and again?

And who gets to decide what is morally acceptable or morally worthy of censorship?

Bambi does not know this theater company (from the States, it seems). She was curious and googled it. She also listened to its artistic director, Mr. Aziz Al-Sharabati. He seems like a reasonable man. He uses art to combat prejudice and racism, it seems. How ironic all this?

What a waste of time, money, and oil (he was on the airplane on his way to Vancouver when the decision of the school came out; https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/surrey-double-trouble-1.5345465).

Because of this illuminated young radical activist and her peers, there has been more pollution in the skies and less art in Vancouver schools.

As for the school that took the decision to cancel the show, it is sad to see no push back to silliness in our society, not even an opportunity to have a clever discussion on where to draw the line between freedom of expression and what may seem to be offensive like this sort of costume.

Talking about costumes, this brings Bambi to Mr. Trudeau. Of course, he is not racist (just hypocritically incompetent, although well-intentioned).

Regardless, Canadian voters seem to have forgotten and forgiven him for his stories of blackface and other costumes abroad. They voted for him, even if this time with a minority government.

We forgave and re-elected him. However, we are/remain too harsh with each other and… with our guests? Our media even called this theater play “racist”.

Is this a form of double-standard (apartheid?) in the accusations of racism?

France 24: “In an unprecedented move, the wave of protests in Lebanon has spread to Hezbollah strongholds in the heavily Shia south of the country”

“A political party as well as an armed group, Hezbollah has become caught up in a storm of protests sweeping the country. As part of the government, it has been accused of complicity in corruption and failing ordinary people” (France 24, November 2nd, 2019).

The response of the Lebanese people came today, clearer than ever: “All of them = all of them” (meaning all the politicians must step down, implicitly meaning the Hezbollah and their allies), as can be seen in this impressive demonstration of people from Tripoli and from elsewhere across the country. They did not even wait for dawn. All this happened during last night.

Another massive demonstration is currently under way in Beirut (where even psychologists and psychiatrists are offering FREE counselling, especially to parents worried about their children’s stress levels, as per the L’Orient Le Jour. Bravo for making room for mental health!).

Demonstrators are gathering again in Beirut downtown, from Naharnet, Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Of course, all this seems to be a sort of a “peaceful” war between forces of Hezbollah (likely potentially diminishing, if Iran is being cornered by the USA? But who knows what is happening behind the scenes?) and forces pushing back (ALL, if not MOST of the people of Lebanon insisting on the end of corruption of all!).

Anyhow, Bambi wrote above MOST of the people because not everyone wants to be on the streets (from Day 1 likely) and some prefer their “own” streets, namely Hezbollah supporters or indirect Hezbollah supporters (supporting the President of Lebanon today and his party led by his own son-in-law, it seems). Perhaps they believe that Lebanon is better in his corrupt status quo. Perhaps they trust Hezbollah’s power in protecting them from I do not know what. Perhaps it is true that Hezbollah can be protective in addition to being corrupt, like the rest of its peers from the other parties.

Some fascist supporters even prefer to beat demonstrators, including women (see earlier post).

This crowd (counter-demonstration) is of course free to have its own opinion but it is sad not to see them hand in hand with the rest of the population, including and especially those literally risking their lives or losing their jobs, as described by the young Lebanese man in the video above [he is from Hezbollah’s own community and he wants to live in a “clean” (= non-corrupt) country, to use the own words of the President of the Lebanese Republic].

Lebanese people, and by extension, Middle-Easterners have a sad tradition of glorifying their own leaders or sometimes own clan (religious, tribal, etc.). Here, for the first time, we are watching a whole nation united in its demand: All of them means all of them.

Of course, we do not want to be naive. Things could degenerate but could change and the change can be for the best. Why not? Why should the destiny of a country be always fear, blood, and continuous immigration to search for safety and to feed one’s family. Why should families be shattered across the globe from generation to generation? Why should Bambi, and millions like Bambi, always worry about their loved ones’ safety and not know if they could see each other during their only opportunity of the year to hug each other. Why?

Isn’t enough enough? Regardless of whom will end up governing the country and having the bigger piece of the cake (whether in the government or outside it, whether in times of peace or unrest), let families live. Let people work. Relieve tax payers. Hands off Lebanon to all those external ferocious forces. No more proxy wars and no more internal stupid and corrupt governance.

A video by a law professor as food for thought for those who still dare to think

Bambi is not a lawyer (thankfully, her spouse would have said—there are too many of them 😊).

However, yesterday evening, she came across an interesting video by Dr. Bruce Pardy, Professor of Law at Queen’s University whom she happens to think highly of. Food for thought.

She is sharing here with the following disclaimer: If you are too rigid in your thinking, perhaps you need to relax your brain neurons before watching.

If you find the latter too challenging and become too triggered, you can always consider trying Rosenberg’ nonviolent communication (NVC). For a quick description, you may wish to read the earlier post :).

Azar-Douglas in L’Orient Le Jour: Let’s teach Lebanese youth to better communicate

Lebanese Dr. Rita Ayoub & Rosenberg’s Nonviolent communication

Ms. Roula Azar-Douglas is one of Bambi’s sisters living in Beirut, Lebanon. She is a journalist, editor, and author (in addition to being a PhD candidate and a mom).

Azar-Douglas’ article was published this morning in the Campus section of the L’Orient Le Jour (a francophone Lebanese daily). It is entitled “Apprendre aux jeunes à mieux communiquer”, which literally means “Let’s teach our youth how to better communicate”.

In each of her articles, Ms. Azar-Douglas highlights the inspiring work of students or researchers from across Lebanese university campuses and sometimes beyond.

Today, her article is about the work of Dr. Rita Ayoub, from the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) who is promoting non-violent communication (NVC model or CNV in French), as a simple, practical yet non-magical way to counter broken communication and hate on social media and on the streets of Lebanon.

First, what is CNV or non-violent communication? This method or rather communication process was developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, since the early 60s.

Dr. Rosenberg, who died in 2005, was an American clinical psychologist, a mediator, teacher, and author. His method supports partnerships and resolving conflicts among people, both in relationships and in society at large.

One of Rosenberg’s famous quotes goes as follows:

Everything we do is in service of our needs. When this one concept is applied to our view of others, we’ll see that we have no real enemies, that what others do to us is the best possible thing they know to do to get their needs met.”

To come back to the Lebanese Dr. Ayoub, she is trained in Rosenberg’ non-violent communication and acts as the Coordinator of a Training Program in Islamo-Christian dialogue at the Institute of Islamo-Christian Studies of the USJ. Recently, she has offered demonstrators free sessions of 90-minute-training workshops in downtown Beirut.

From Roula Azar-Douglas, L’Orient Le Jour

With Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication, youth can learn to identify their own moral judgments against others in a specific moment.

With the use of words, the underlying idea is to allow them to move from their moral judgments into an expression of their own needs.

Together, they try to identify each person’s feelings when they are judging (e.g., someone may not accept that another person may have a different opinion or may not wish to participate in a demonstration or may judge those who are demonstrating, etc.).  

Of course, this process cannot help counter ferocious regional violent forces blowing on tiny Lebanon. However, it can perhaps help plant small seeds of peace in people’s minds, here and there, to keep communication channels open.

Who knows? This may in turn perhaps serve peace in the region in the bigger scheme of things.

This is crucial for a nation that is sick and tired of violence in the Middle East.

A country that simply wants to live in dignity and keep collective hope alive.

All this whilst courageously standing on top of a mountain facing a deep valley made up of the ghosts of civil and regional wars.

May respect and love prevail, despite the increased polarization in Lebanon.

Thank you Roula for your informative article:

Thanks Dr. Ayoub for promoting peace and life… instead of the culture of martyrdom.  

CNN Exclusive Interview with Lebanese Interior Minister Raya Haffar El Hassan: 1. the “political elite can no longer weasel its way out of protestors” & 2. “Hezbollah are here to stay”

Raya Hafffar El Hassan, Lebanese Interior Minister

In the first part of this exclusive interview, Lebanese Interior Minister Raya Haffar El Hassan tells Ms. Becky Anderson that Lebanon’s “political elite can no longer weasel its way out of protestors”.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2019/10/31/raya-haffar-el-hassan-lebanon-anderson-intv-ctw-part-1-vpx.cnn

In the second part of the interview, Ms. Raya Haffar El Hassan adds that “despite painful US sanctions against Hezbollah the group are part of the country’s social fabric — and aren’t going anywhere”.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2019/10/31/connect-the-world-raya-haffar-el-hassan-pt-2-intv-vpx.cnn

The Atlantic: An article on Lebanon by Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, President of the American University of Beirut (AUB)

President of the American University of Beirut (AUB)

Whilst searching the internet for the latest news from Lebanon, Bambi came across this interesting text by Dr. Khuri, the 16th and current President of the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Dr. Khuri is a hematologist/oncologist and a lung and head/neck cancer expert. His is also the Editor-in-chief of ACS Journal Cancer.

His article is entitled “Lebanon Doesn’t Need Heroes. The destiny of the well-intentioned citizen leader need not always be that of the martyr”.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/lebanon-protests-role-university/601084/

Mr. Richard Martineau is right: The Globe & Mail editorial on Québec’s Bill 21 sucks

Further below is a translation of the article by Mr. Martineau entitled “A stain on Canada”.

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2019/10/31/une-tache-sur-le-canada

Before, here is the link to the original editorial in the Globe & Mail:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-the-federal-parties-embarrassed-themselves-over-bill-21-during-the/#comments

“Do you think the debate on Bill 21 is over?

Do you think that the federal campaign is behind us and that we will finally be able to turn the page and move on?

Sorry, but I have bad news for you: it’s just beginning.

A poison text

On Monday, The Globe and Mail, the largest and most influential newspaper in the country, considered by many to be the thermometer of the Canadian left, published a devastating editorial on Bill 21.

This is not a comment, an opinion piece or a chronicle, which is binding its author only.

Rather, this is an editorial, which represents the point of view of a newspaper.

Of all the negative texts that have been written about Bill 21, it is by far the most ferocious and enraged.

According to The Globe and Mail, Jagmeet Singh, Andrew Sheer and Justin Trudeau dishonored themselves by not condemning the “odious” Bill 21 during the electoral campaign.

“This opportunistic betrayal of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was only a cynical strategy to win seats in Québec,” it says.

“The leaders of the NDP, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party have turned their backs on vulnerable populations, leaving the Québec government trampling on their most fundamental rights.

Bill 21 is a blot on Canada and Québec. It prevents people, even people who are born, raised and educated here in Canada, from teaching, becoming police officers, judges or prosecutors, and from holding a variety of jobs in the public service sector in Québec. “

(There is neither a mention of the “grandfather” clause, which allows existing public servants to keep their religious sign, nor of the fact that Bill 21 only applies to officials in positions of authority. Bof, as they say in English: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story).

“The victims of Bill 21 do not need friends who show up to court years later. They need those who sit in the federal Parliament to recognize that something very ugly and very unfair is happening right now in Québec, and that they find the political courage to confront this Bill that everyone with eyes sees as discriminatory. “

A national shame

A reminder to the readers: this text is not any insignificant letter to the editor published in an obscure weekly. It is rather an Editorial published in the most important daily newspaper in our country.

The newspaper that foreigners may read, if they wish to take the pulse of Canada.

Nevertheless, and at least, this text has the merit of being clear: for the Canadian media elite, Bill 21 is a national shame that must be fought tooth and nail.

It does not matter if it was adopted by a democratically elected government and if 70% of Québecers support it.

Canada cannot accept such a Bill on its territory.

It is more or less an open declaration of war. A peaceful war, of course. It is still a war though, make no mistake.

The most influential newspaper in the country is asking the federal government to fight a provincial Bill that was passed – with popular support – by a democratically elected government!

And some still find that we have our place in this country?”