This is not about video games.
This is about the inhuman horror of a world on top of a world.
This is about our own genial depravity in the era of cold love.
This is about the pain that we consistently devalue. Our own and others’.
I have lived through both sides of this: A refugee and a war zone.
2006 and abandoned in Syria while Lebanon is demolished.
Two decades earlier and stuck in an occupied Lebanon with its nightly skirmishes in some not-so-distant valleys.
While born in California, Lebanon is the ghost of my origin. Always hovering in the shadows of my bones.
2006. I am stuck. I wander downtown Damascus. For once, I don’t mind its filth. I feel polluted anyway.
I stumble beneath giant banners of Hafez Al-Assad. I linger beneath the lights of the old markets.
Everyone reminding me how ancient it all is while I get text messages from my girlfriend in Europe about how much of an asshole I am.
I don’t care.
Terror has always hung around the sharp, intimate edges of my living.
My parents’ constant arguments.
Gunfire keeping me up at night.
The mindless, distant droning of aircraft.
I’ve never found a piece of media that properly conveyed the feeling of terror.
They all fail because they try to push a narrative. The story softens the blow.
No, the most horrifying aspect of terror is the meaningless indifference of it.
A plane engine and you are incinerated in your sleep.
A discarded toy and your body is ripped apart.
Packing a suitcase and an artillery shell demolishes your home.
(Two of these nearly happened to me).
No sense to it. No story. You exist until you don’t.
At some point, there is a decision you have to make: leave or stay?
And staying is always easier. Even when faced with the deliberate, hard fear of being obliterated, staying is still easier.
Every time I was forced to abandon Lebanon, a piece of me broke.
Stuck in Syria in 2006, I am nothing but pieces.
Today’s refugees are nothing but pieces. Tired, broken, bent, haunted.
Terror driving them from their homes only to meet that same terror hundreds and thousands of miles away driving fear and violence into their welcoming.
9/11. 7/7. 11/13.
No one has learned anything. People only have compassion when it suits them. When they are comfortable. When they are unconcerned and need a cause to flesh out their identity as Good People.
Inconvenient compassion has no place in today’s rhetoric or action.
The media, the world only cared about Beirut’s ISIS bombings through the lens of Paris. Without the pain of France, the pain of Lebanon was insubstantial.
Without the pain of France, the refugees might’ve had a better chance.
Now, mosques are burned down, immigrants are attacked, and 30 states (so far) in the U.S. have stated they do not wish to assist in resettling refugees.
Our species has become a parody of decency and compassion.
This is a world of rhetorical games being played by billionaires to sway an assumed idiot public to hate as much as they possibly can.
To hate with crazed, religious zeal.
It is tempting. It feels decent and right in the moment, but the cost is too high to be sustainable.
I have lived every side of conflict. I carry with me the Hell of resignation.
Of being resigned to a devalued life. That numbness is unforgettable.
ISIS devalues life. ISIS is an amoral, vindictive force.
May the world not become its mirror.