“The View from Lebanon: Dr. Pamela Chrabieh on life, education and the economy today in Beirut” – Interview on Finitoworld.com (London, UK)

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a Lebanese-Canadian scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, writer and consultant. Selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Lebanon (Women Leaders Directory 2013, Smart Center and Women in Front, Beirut), and ‘Most Exceptional Teaching Fellow’ in 2008 (University of Montreal), Dr. Chrabieh won several national and regional prizes in Canada (including Forces Avenir Université de Montréal, Forces Avenir Québec, Prix Lieutenant-Gouverneur du Québec), and her Peace Education ‘Diplomacy of the Dish’ activity was selected as one of the most innovative activities during the Innovation Week of the United Arab Emirates in 2015. Since 2017, Dr. Chrabieh has been the owner and director of Beirut-based SPNC Learning & Communication Expertise, and the Nabad (nabad.art) Program Manager since 2020.

Here, in an important exclusive, she talks to the poet and critic Omar Sabbagh about the current condition of Beirut and Lebanon.

Omar Sabbagh: Whether it may be common knowledge or not, Beirut and Lebanon more generally are currently in a state of crisis.  Can you tell us, to start with, what this crisis situation looks like on the ground?  

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh: Lebanon has been going through a multiform crisis following the so-called end of the 1970s-1980s wars: social, political, environmental, sanitary, etc. The Beirut port blast on August 4, 2020, was the first straw that broke the camel’s back, and the ongoing acute economic crisis the second straw. As poverty is rising – more than 60% of the local population lives now under the extreme poverty line – people are increasingly desperate. Many (those who were able to do so) left the country, others (those who are staying) are trying to survive the financial meltdown, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the political deadlock.

OS: There are many factors that constitute the fraught modern history of Lebanon.  In your view, is the current crisis another version of other crises in the history of modern Lebanon, or is the current situation of a new sort, and why?

PC: In my opinion, the current situation is first the consequence of decades of corruption, physical and psychological wars, state paralysis, nepotism, sectarianism, foreign interferences, and a clash of ignorance. However, and contrary to what we went through during the 1980s – and that I witnessed first hand as being part of the generation of war – what we are going through today is different, as the deterioration of the country is unprecedented. During the 1980s, we were able to escape bombs and snipers and take refuge in a different city or village, we were still able to find food and work, and we had hope for the future. Whereas today looks and feels like a descent into hell, with most of us who still roam the land are hanging by a thread. The level of despair is immeasurable today, and that is, in my opinion, one main difference between the recent past and our present life.

OS: The economy has suffered tremendously in recent years.  Apart from long-standing practices of corruption, there was the revolutionary movement from 2019, and the terrible blast in Summer of 2020.  How would you assess or critique the recent fate and current state of materialwell-being in Lebanon and Beirut?

PC: Lebanon is enduring an acute economic depression, inflation reaching triple digits, and the exchange rate keeps losing value. This is still affecting the population, especially the poor and middle class. I agree with the World Bank statement: “The social impact, which is already dire, could become catastrophic”. I honestly don’t know how long the local population will be able to survive with one of the lowest minimum wages in the world, and when the country’s food prices have become the highest in Southwestern Asia and North Africa. People can’t even find needed medicine or pay a hospital bill. They haven’t been able to access their money in banks since late 2019, and their lights may go off starting May 15 because cash for electricity generation is running out. 

OS: How would you assess the prospects for the young, the student body of Lebanon?  It’s common knowledge that for decades the pool or fund of human capital, of human talent in Lebanon is a kind of superlative supply for what is a nugatory demand, and that there has been for decades a brain-drain from Lebanon to other places.  Are prospects for the young just a continuation of this previous scenario or are there significant differences to the situation now, and how so?

PC: Now more than ever, and given the compounded effect of multiple crises, the Lebanese youth is facing a lack of work opportunities, rising costs of living and unemployment rates, and the absence of any state support. Many are growing disillusioned and desperate, and we are not even at the end of our crises. We should expect worse to come and it is going to be tougher for young people to pursue their higher studies, find a job, or even secure an entry visa elsewhere. 

OS: Lebanon is known for its fractious sectarianism.  Does this feature of the nation’s political, civil, and denominational make-up affect the young today as much as it may have done in decades past?

PC: Most students of mine and other university students, along with countless academics, activists, and artists who have been part of the October 17 ‘revolutionary movements’, have vehemently criticized sectarianism in all its forms and offered alternative paths, ranging from a complete separation between religion and politics to mediatory approaches. This is not a new phenomenon, as many individuals and organizations stood against sectarianism in the last decades, but we are witnessing change within student bodies, especially with secular groups winning elections in some of the most prestigious universities versus traditional sectarian groups.

OSYou have been involved at a grass-roots with the so-called ‘revolutionary’ upheavals in Lebanon and Beirut since they began in late 2019.  How would you characterize the nature of this movement?  And what do you think its effects have been and/or will be on Lebanese politics and thus on the prospects of the up-and-coming generation?

PC: I think it is still too soon to assess the October 17 revolutionary movements. I wrote a while ago that there are many ways of approaching the study of revolution in the contemporary world. According to a narrow definition, “revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system”. In that perspective, revolutionary dynamics in Lebanon appear to several observers (whether anti-revolutionary or skeptics) as “minor disturbances”. According to these ‘experts’, as long as the socio-political and economic systems are “unchanged”, the so-called “hirak (movement) is not worthy to be called “revolution”, and “will soon end” or it just “ended”. However, a different definition of “revolution” – the one I use and develop – makes it appear as an ongoing project of deep confrontation, resistance, deconstruction, reconstruction, and systemic transformation. This project has no start per se, nor a specific end. In other words, Revolution with a big R is a process, and the October 17 revolutionary movements are only but a step towards overturning existing conditions and generating alternative socio-political and economic orders. As I see it, “revolution” in Lebanon isn’t a static object that can either be a “success” or a “failure”. It consists of several current dimensions and historical layers simultaneously, and when it is not roaring in public spaces, it is boiling in the minds, adapting, learning, and bouncing back.

OS: What’s it like being both a teacher and a business woman in today’s climate?  Detail, if you would, how the perspectives of your variegated work-roles have illuminated for you the current state of Lebanon?

PC: I wear several hats: scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, consultant, program manager, wife, daughter, mother, etc. And these hats have been both challenging and rewarding. Definitely, my studies and work experience have helped me shape my knowledge and critical thinking, but my life experiences, with my family, friends, and colleagues, in Lebanon and abroad, have marked my identity and deeply contributed to what I have become today. Most certainly, I haven’t learned about resistance and resilience in books, but through my art, the arts and culture in my country and the region, and through the many struggles I have been going through, as well as the struggles of others around me.

OS: Given your answers to the questions above, what in your view is in store for Lebanon, and why?   

PC: As long as there are inequalities, social injustice, exclusion, oppression, violence, war, etc., and as long as there are possibilities of change, I do not think that revolutionary movements will end. As long as our backs are to the wall and our only way is forward and through our fears, and as long as there are no limitations we choose to impose on our will, imagination, resilience, patience and freedom, we will rise again from under the rubble. 

Photo credit: the opening image was originally posted to Flickr by jiangkeren


The Beirut Call Anthology: Virtual Book Launch on May 9th 2021

“THE BEIRUT CALL…Harnessing Creativity for Change!”⁠ is a new anthology in collaboration with @daralkalimauniversity, its program @nabad.art and @elyssarpress, a publishing press in Redlands, CA.
Support our Lebanese artists and arts organizations!
Follow us @elyssarpress, on facebook @thebeirutcall⁠ or go to elyssarpress/the-beirut-call/ for more information.
VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH is set for Sunday May 9, 2021 at 10am PST (1pm EST), 8pm Lebanon Time, 6pm UK time, 9pm Dubai time. Sign up here for the event: https://fb.me/e/1XYDoqyim
Video Trailer by 5d Studios (5dstudios.org)⁠
Repost Elyssar Press
#nabad #nabad.art #Dar_alKalima_University #elyssarpress #thebeirutcall

Crawling Out from Under the Rubble: On Becoming Iconoclasts

How and why did we let ourselves be continuously buried under the rubble? Without implicating ourselves in entrenching the Orientalist caricatures of Southwestern Asian societies as incapable of self-government, there are questions to be asked about quietist and conformist tendencies, about the ostrich-like behavior, and the zombie attitude. These questions do not lend themselves to easy answers. But engaging with them may facilitate critical assessment of the prospects for sustainable change.
According to Patricio Aylwin Azocar: “Ordinary men and women may often feel unmotivated to exert their citizenship, either because they cannot tell the difference between the different alternatives, or because they have lost faith in the political classes, or because they feel that the really important issues are not in their power to decide”. As for the well-known poet Adonis, he reproaches the deification of the political party, the ideology, and the community – Adonis opposes the sacralization that colors and creeps into politics, turning parliamentarians, ministers, and other public servants into demi-gods, their ideologies into gospels and political parties into quasi-sects.
Indeed, over the past decades, the legacy of multiple wars in Lebanon, including hypermnesia, and paradoxically the tabula rasa mentality and strategy, have produced in the minds of a good many Lebanese the illusion that somehow “somebody” – the warlord, the zaim, the political party, the sectarian community/belonging – but not the State (or the embodiment of the common management of our diversity), can provide for ALL needs, so why make much effort to fulfill what used to be considered in practice (or are considered in the Constitution) the responsibilities of any citizen?
As Larbi Sadiki describes Adonis in The Search for Arab Democracy, he is in all of this “an iconoclast”. “His predilection is for fluidity, plurality, and provisionalism”. The icons of Lebanese politics have all cultivated and entrenched political iconolatry, and that iconolatry has been internalized by many Lebanese, thus has weakened the case for citizenship. Adonis’s iconoclasm (desacralization) seems therefore justified, but in my opinion, when it comes to the Lebanese case, iconoclasm is not a generalized rebellion which will not take place given local divisions – and let us not forget the chaotic outcome of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in most countries where it occurred -, but a change-making process located in multiple local and diasporic social-political struggles already taking place.
Agents of dialogue, non-governmental organizations, academics, and activists have been trying their best, especially since the 1990s (and before), to raise awareness about the necessity of reforming the social-political system and of finding solutions to numerous crises such as the economic, environmental, cultural,…; crises of paradigms, identities, difference, indifference, intolerance, belligerence, ignorance, oppression, fanaticism, and of missionary zeal. However, if we want to shift from subjection, autocracy, blind faith, absolutism, fixity, non-participatory polity, and “denizenship” to citizenship and good governance, we will have to crawl out from under the rubble, we will have to desacralize, we will have to become iconoclasts, and by that I mean: we will have to start making use of the energy and creativity of all these agents and encourage new initiatives, to serve our society (and continue on serving) even from afar (Lebanese living in diaspora) while continuing our primary missions, to pull up the stories of people who have been silenced, to harness solidarity into forms of actions that would contribute to the change-making process in an efficient manner, and to redirect the substantial energy of our frustration – when our streets and lives are vanishing under piles of glass, debris and garbage – and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.
“If beyond hopelessness there is hope, I am hopeful” (Elias Khoury). And I am calling on my fellow academics and artists to further publicize/disseminate their knowledge as a catalyst for social-political change, to share and continue to share the myriad ways they use their expertise to expand public discourse and promote social justice, human rights, peacebuilding, and alternative diversity management approaches. Intellectual activism or public sociology – or social justice education/ peace education – is an important form of activism that should accompany street protests, boycotts, and demonstrations. It is about the democratization of knowledge, about facilitating other forms of activism by giving people data, symbols, and paradigms they can reference to back up their positions on social and political issues (as Popkewitz and others have noted, “Knowledge provides the principles through which options are made available, problems defined, and solutions considered as acceptable and effective”), by fostering dialogue and constructive criticism. It is about stepping out of the office and putting the accumulated research to use. It is about ‘being academic and artist’ as a social role, not just a job, especially when the silence of many maintains injustice, which it frequently does.
True that academia and the arts do more than influence society, they are also shaped by it, they reflect the antagonisms and reproduce them, they are contested sites where various agendas and desires are promoted and through which power circulates to produce and legitimate certain kinds of knowledge, experience and ways of knowing, but academia — and some aspects of artistic production — in Lebanon is also inherently an elitist hierarchical structure and most academics/artists are worried about keeping their jobs, getting tenure and selling their artworks. Furthermore, as Henry Giroux notes, “Neoliberalism assaulted all things public, sabotaged the basic contradiction between democratic values and market fundamentalism (…), it also weakened any viable notion of political agency by offering no language capable of connecting private considerations to public issues…As democratic values give way to commercial values, intellectual ambitions are often reduced to an instrument of the entrepreneurial self, and social visions are dismissed as hopelessly out of date”.

Yet despite these limitations and that of self-enclosure of the Ivory Tower, there are already engaged Lebanese academics and artists, iconoclasts, and they are making a difference, but more need to engage beyond their classrooms, books and academic journals, and ‘ateliers’, to be in the act of researching people, themselves, the dynamics of oppression and the politics of social interactions and injustices, to become aware of the people’s often unknowingly complicit in the process of oppression, to create knowledge in and through meaningful participation and action with others, to bring people together and contribute to finding reasons of solidarity, to transform boundaries into spaces where lives and pedagogies are constructed together in ways that work for social justice and lead to powerful possibilities, and where dialogic and open-ended praxis based on more collaborative and caring relationships is promoted.

*A text by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh — published on August 16, 2020, republished on April 13, 2021.

Lancement de l’ouvrage “Beyrouth Mon Amour. 4 août 2020 18h07”.

Heureuse d’avoir contribué à cet ouvrage sur Beyrouth. Merci Bélinda Béatrice Ibrahim et félicitations!

Je partage ci-dessous le communiqué de presse:

Beyrouth Mon Amour
4 août 2020 18 h 07
Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Bélinda IBRAHIM
Préface de Gérard BEJJANI
Participation audio exceptionnelle de Mme Fanny ARDANT.

Une tragédie telle l’explosion du 4 août ne se donne pas à voir, elle se vit.
Profondément elle pénètre la peau, comme le jour du drame, elle a investi les âmes de Beyrouth. Elle ne se feuillette pas comme un album photo, mais elle imprime les yeux de spectres et de sang. Il y a autant de récits du drame que de victimes ;
Il y a autant de miracles que de survivants.
Comme un miroir brisé, l’explosion de Beyrouth se démultiplie dans nos têtes.
Elle hante nos rêves et distord nos réalités.
Le temps trébuche puis s’arrête, pour converger vers le seul jour de la comparution, où seront jugés les criminels, où peut-être s’apaisera notre colère.
Ce jour-là ne sera ni celui de l’oubli ni celui du pardon. Il verra la lente suture des blessures et le début de la cohabitation avec nos cicatrices.
Cet ouvrage est le fruit d’un travail collectif. Une chaîne d’entraide formidable, née de l’urgence de libérer la parole et d’exorciser la douleur.
C’est pourquoi sa mise en page est simple et sobre, retranchée dans la pudeur qui suit l’outrage. Aucune recherche de sensationnel et encore moins de reconnaissance ne viendra entacher les intentions de ses contributeurs.

Cinquante-six auteurs ont livré leur témoignage écrit et vingt-huit artistes ont saisi par des photographies, des peintures et des dessins cet instant funeste qui a détruit une ville et saccagé des vies.

Cet ouvrage a pu voir le jour grâce à la générosité de mécènes anonymes et d’autres nominatifs qui ont assuré le financement des frais de production et d’impression. Tout en offrant un espace cathartique à nos artistes, ils soutiennent le travail titanesque de six ONG qui œuvrent depuis le 4 août, 18 h 07, sur le terrain.

L’ouvrage sera lancé en présence des contributeurs et de la presse, le mercredi 28 octobre de 16 h 30 à 18 h 30, dans les jardins du palais Sursock-Cohrane, dans ce lieu qui symbolise à lui seul, les ravages subis par le Patrimoine libanais.

L’ouvrage sera disponible à la vente le jour du lancement et dès samedi 31 octobre au prix de 150 000 LL dans les branches (hors-mall) de la Librairie Antoine qui a gracieusement offert son réseau de distribution, ainsi qu’auprès des points de collecte suivants, le Kudeta à Badaro et la Casa Lounge , Avenue de l’Indépendance.

Il sera également disponible à l’achat en broché à l’étranger au Canada et les USA dans quelques jours sur : bouquinbec.ca (Impression sur demande)
Et en France pour la France et l’Europe sur : pumbo.fr (Impression sur demande)

Les recettes iront à 6 ONG actives sur le terrain à Beyrouth:
Afel Liban AL MAJAL Live Love Beirut Expertise Erasmus arcenciel.aec et Faire Face Cancer

Le Liban, un foyer de dialogue… Est-ce une utopie?

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh

Le Liban, un foyer de dialogue… Est-ce une utopie? Si en tant que peuple nous abandonnons ce rêve alors oui… En dépit de nos souffrances et mémoires meurtries, nous ne pouvons pas nous résigner. Il va falloir continuer à faire scintiller nos lumières, tant individuellement que collectivement. Un peuple qui lutte ne meurt pas!
الشعب الذي يكافح ويقاوم من أجل تقرير مصيره لا يموت.

Dynamiques révolutionnaires, dialogue islamo-chrétien et gestion des diversités au Liban: apports ou impasses?

Par Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Article publié dans Telos Magazine, no. 1, Juin 2020.

ماذا بعد الباثوكراسية؟

كشفت الديناميكيات الثورية في الشهرين الأخيرين في لبنان عن وجود وانتشار ما يمكن أن يعرفه العديد من علماء النفس بالنرجسية والاعتلال النفسي في السياسة. وفقًا لعالم النفس البولندي أندرو لوباكوفسكي الذي كرس حياته المهنية لدراسة العلاقة بين الاضطرابات النفسية والسياسة، فإن السياسيين النرجسيين يتوقون إلى الاهتمام، ويشعرون بأنهم متفوقون على الآخرين ولهم الحق في السيطرة عليهم. كما أنهم يفتقرون إلى التعاطف، مما يعني أنهم قادرون على استغلال الناس وإساءة معاملتهم بلا رحمة من أجل السلطة. وقد تشعر الشخصية المعتلة النفس بالتفوق وعدم التعاطف، ولكن دون نفس الدافع للانتباه. وصف لوباكوفسكي مزيج النرجسية والاعتلال النفسي في السياسة بأنها “باثوكراسية”، مما يشير إلى الحكومات والأنظمة السياسية المؤلفة من أشخاص يعانون من هذه الاضطرابات – والمفهوم لا يقتصر بأي حال على أنظمة الماضي. من المهم الإشارة إلى أنه ليس كل من يصبح جزءًا من نظام الباثوكراسية يعاني من اضطراب نفسي. قد يكون بعض الناس ببساطة قاسيين وغير متعاطفين دون اضطراب نفسي كامل. وقد يتبع بعض السياسيين خط الحزب وليس الزعيم ويعتقدون أنهم سيكونون قادرين على كبح الدوافع المرضية للأشخاص المحيطين بهم. في الوقت نفسه، يسقط الناس المتعاطفون والعادلون تدريجياً. إما أن يتم نبذهم أو تنحيتهم أو يهربون بسبب الأمراض المتنامية حولهم إذ يحب المتعاطفون البقاء على الأرض والتفاعل مع الآخرين بدلاً من الارتقاء بأنفسهم، ولا يرغبون في السيطرة أو السلطة، ولكنهم يعملون من أجل التفاعل الإجتماعي والعيش المشترك، ويتركون تلك الأدوار القيادية شاغرة لأولئك الذين يتمتعون بسمات شخصية نرجسية ومعتلة النفس

ما هو الحل؟

لا بد من بناء ثقافة ديمقراطية التي هي وسيلة أساسية لحماية الناس من هؤلاء السياسيين. والمطلوب إجراء اختبارات للسلطة – ليس فقط للحد من ممارسة السلطة، ولكن للحد من تحقيقها إذ لا ينبغي السماح للأشخاص الذين يرغبون في السلطة أكثر من غيرهم بالحصول على مواقع السلطة. ويجب تقييم كل قائد محتمل لمستويات التعاطف أو النرجسية أو الاعتلال النفسي لتحديد مدى ملاءمتها للسلطة. وفقًا لعالم الأنثروبولوجيا كريستوفر بوهم، يجب تطبيق “تقنيات التحكم الاجتماعي في قمع كل من القيادة المهيمنة والقدرة التنافسية غير المبررة”. إذا حاول فرد مهيمن السيطرة على مجموعة من الناس، فعليهم أن يمارسوا ما يسميه بوهم بـ “فرض المساواة”. يتحدون إذاً ضد الشخص المستبد، وينبذونه أو يهجرونه”. في الوقت نفسه، ينبغي تشجيع الأشخاص المتعاطفين – الذين يفتقرون عمومًا إلى الشهوة للحصول على السلطة – على تولي مناصب السلطة. حتى لو كانوا لا يريدون ذلك، فيجب أن يشعروا بمسؤولية القيام بذلك. لا شك أن هذا الحل يستتبع تغييرات هائلة في الذهنية والنظام والمؤسسات لا يمكن أن تحصل في المدى القريب. لكنه قد يضمن أن السلطة في أيدي أشخاص يستحقونها، وبالتالي يجعل لبنان أقل عرضة للأزمات السياسية والاقتصادية

Ala’ Abou Fakhr, martyr de la révolution, martyr national – article dans l’Orient-le-Jour

Lire l’article complet sur le site de L’Orient-le-Jour

Le meurtre du révolutionnaire Ala’ Abou Fakhr devant son épouse et son fils a ravivé dans ma mémoire le décès de mon beau-père Gebran Badine qui fut assassiné en Irak en 2004. Dans un article que j’avais publié en 2007 dans Scriptura (Université de Montréal), je posais à l’époque les questions suivantes : « Qui est Gebran ? (et donc, qui est Ala’ ?). Vaut-il la peine d’être remémoré ? Sa mort, à l’instar de beaucoup d’autres, compte-t-elle sur l’échiquier national ? »

Depuis des décennies, les meurtres et massacres perpétrés au Liban et dans la région de l’Asie de l’Ouest ne sont plus que des événements relégués aux oubliettes, des concours de circonstances, des accidents faisant partie du lot dit normal de la guerre et des révolutions. En ce sens, la mort de Gebran, de Ala’ et de bien d’autres encore ferait partie de l’ordre des choses, du cycle de la vie et de la mort. Elle ferait partie des tragédies enfouies dans les méandres de l’histoire, jugées par des politiciens, des historiens, des institutions médiatiques et des peuples entiers, inaptes à porter le qualificatif de mal absolu, d’horreur extrême, et donc inaptes à être même pointées du doigt. Or toute guerre constitue un génocide, et tout être humain ayant péri de la folie meurtrière vaut la peine d’être remémoré, pour que justement cesse cette folie.

Au Liban, il est habituellement demandé tant aux enfants qu’aux adultes de ne pas revenir sur le passé, de taire les blessures, de se murer dans un mutisme approbateur de la fatalité du destin, privilégiant la survie sociale et politique à la survie psychique et humaine. La société entière est soumise aux chuchotements et à l’autocensure qui font que la moindre pensée subversive est automatiquement réprimée. Cette omerta, ou loi du silence, est renforcée au niveau national par l’auto-amnistie des leaders de la guerre en 1991. En effet, la loi

n° 84 du 26 août 1991 a voulu voiler le passé récent en accordant une amnistie aux criminels pour tous les actes commis avant le 28 mars 1991. Cette loi fut élaborée en fonction de critères politiques et non des droits de l’homme. Les « seigneurs de la guerre » – expression utilisée en politologie libanaise – ont fait en sorte que leurs crimes soient oubliés. Or suffit-il d’affirmer que le passé n’existe plus en droit pour qu’il cesse d’exister dans la réalité et les consciences, pour que victimes et bourreaux se valent ?

L’oubli n’est qu’une illusion, le temps nous rattrape à grandes enjambées et la souffrance nous descend, même si nous tentons de fuir. « Gare au retour du refoulé ! » avait prévenu un célèbre architecte libanais lors d’une conférence en février 2004 intitulée « Le centre-ville, exploit ou fracture ? ». Comment tourner la page sur des milliers de morts, de blessés, de disparus, de déplacés, de prisonniers, d’émigrés forcés, de destructions, d’horreurs? Comment dépasser la peur qui marque sa présence et la dépression qui suit la fin de l’espoir ? Comment envisager ce qui sera sans tenir compte de ce qui a été ?

« Je désire savoir où sont les choses futures et passées, si l’on peut dire qu’elles sont. Si cette connaissance est au-dessus de moi, au moins je suis assuré qu’en quelque lieu qu’elles soient, elles n’y sont ni futures ni passées, mais présentes, puisque si elles y sont futures, elles n’y sont pas encore, et que si elles y sont passées, elles n’y sont plus. »

Aux interrogations de saint Augustin, dans les Confessions (livre XI, chapitre XVII), répondent certaines certitudes : si l’avenir n’est pas encore et si le passé n’est plus, celui-ci n’est pas sans influencer celui-là. En ce sens, un avenir pacifié ne peut être envisageable si la politique de la tabula rasa relevant de la terre brûlée est adoptée. Celui-ci requiert la reconnaissance de la douleur en la muant en souvenir fondateur qui puisse nous en affranchir, notamment en construisant une mémoire individuelle et collective de la guerre. Dans cette perspective, la parole ou la mise en récit de l’événement traumatique occupent une place centrale dans le processus thérapeutique qui constitue la base du processus de « peacebuilding » – construction de la paix. Donner un espace de parole, d’où l’on peut s’exprimer en toute sécurité et liberté, est indispensable pour passer de la simple reviviscence à la représentation, du souvenir au « ressouvenir » – un terme utilisé par Amin Maalouf et qui signifie une réécriture, un déchiffrage, un dévoilement, un travail de critique et d’autocritique (intériorisation), un projet herméneutique, un travail de deuil, un acte refondateur, une transformation – pour qu’on puisse dire les blessures, leur attribuer un sens, les comprendre et vivre avec.

En ce sens, le principe « œil pour œil, dent pour dent », ou la culture de la vendetta, devrait être remplacé par un processus réparateur impliquant toutes les parties, constituant une manière puissante d’aborder non seulement les préjudices matériels et physiques causés par les crimes, mais aussi les préjudices sociaux, psychologiques et relationnels. Cette démarche est centrée sur la victime, et la communauté et le dialogue en sont les éléments centraux. Le but n’est pas la vengeance, mais que la vérité soit connue et qu’une reconnaissance publique soit officiellement sanctionnée. Les auteurs de crimes de guerre et de tout crime ont beau répéter que personne n’entendra les victimes, que personne ne se soucie d’elles, que personne ne le saura jamais… D’où la nécessité de faire face à ce que le journaliste Lawrence Weschler qualifie d’« instant primordial » : « Qui était là ? Qui criait ? Qui se tenait aux côtés de la victime et que faisaient-ils ? Qui encore maintenant oserait écouter ses cris ? Qui souhaite le savoir ? Qui sera tenu responsable ? Et qui leur en demandera des comptes ? »

Source: https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1195118/ala-abou-fakhr-martyr-de-la-revolution-martyr-national.html

عن الحوار الإسلامي المسيحي، ذاكرة الحرب وبناء السلام في لبنان

Interested in the subject on Interfaith Dialogue, War Memory and Peacebuilding? This is the full version of my article, and you can have access to the PDF file on Telos’ site: https://www.telosmagazine.org/

Dear Mr. Fisk, have you heard of horizontal leadership?

Beirut tonight

“The new revolutions of the Middle East are not the same, but they all share this one fatal flaw: They have no leadership, no recognisable faces of integrity. And – the greatest tragedy of all – they don’t seem to be interested in finding any” said Robert Fisk 3 days ago.

As if the millions of people protesting in several countries in Western Asia and North Africa – including in Lebanon in the last 2 weeks -, are “ignorant masses”, unable to produce new leadership or to come up with alternative leadership practices and models, or should not choose to be leaderless God forbid. As if those “masses” have only three choices: to be dull, a*-kissers, or hopelessly insecure.

Beirut tonight

Then again, I understand why Fisk and others would use an essentialist definition of leadership, as vertical leadership has definitely been the “norm” for quite some time. This thinking assumes that any movement needs hierarchy to succeed (top-down approach) – but guess what? There is a new paradigm in town – well not that new but let’s say that it’s becoming more popular in Lebanon and elsewhere – and it’s defined as “horizontal leadership”.

Beirut tonight

Simply put, it’s about human synergy, cooperation, taking ownership of milestones, innovation (which is not reserved for an elite), teamwork, sums of experiences and accumulated knowledge/wisdom, boundary-crossing, impact-making, game-changing, disruption, unity in diversity; and it’s definitely not about “the norm”. There is no “official boss”, nor a “patriarch”, “zaim”, or a “father figure”.

Horizontal leadership is not about getting people to follow; it’s about getting things done “less by lining up the troops, and more by generating movement around common goals”.

In other words, horizontal leadership is about a matrix of people who don’t want nor need to be ordered to act how “they should”, and whose collective actions progressively implement “a vision”.

“In today’s world, we each have to behave as leaders, or we simply don’t succeed. This is not New Age pablum-talk; it is a meaningful statement. (…) The concept of leadership development needs democratizing. The future of leadership is horizontal, not vertical; and the future of horizontal leadership is learning the ways of trust. That means teaching trusting, and being trusted. And it means an approach to teaching leadership that is far more broadly-based than it has been” (Trusted Advisor).