Monthly Archives

December 1995

1995, Articles, Raiati

Followers / December 17, 1995

In our local language, we use the word “cronies”, which translates into “followers” in formal Arabic. Those are found among us and they lack the courage to express their opinions. Undoubtedly, they follow their leaders due to their need for protection, at a time when the government provides no protection. This is inherited from the late Ottoman era, when dignitaries and notables used to be the representatives of the denomination. This was justified since notables used to care about people’s sufferings, to defend them, and to pay the military recompense if it was necessary to exempt the citizen from performing the military service.

            During the Mandate period, our notables became irresponsible, enjoying the prestige given to them by tribes, and they did not provide services for people. They used to believe they have rights to be taken from people, but they do not have duties for the poor and the weak. During the Turkish era, there was a kind of solidarity between the notable and the people and each of them had a role to play. But now, you are just a follower and you have no benefits. The only protection provided is for bullies, because they can violate the law without punishment.

            The new notable wants you to remain silent, and your silence shall protect you from offense. Hence, the condition for your survival is a humiliation. They would humiliate you to convince you that your relationship with them is a principle. In the recent past, I used to hear people saying: “I am with x, this is my principle”. In my view, a principle is a belief from which you start, and on which you build your life. If you and your leader share the same doctrine, then it is your principle and his principle. But what I still cannot understand is the fact that you are with a leader due to a principle, such as “my father was with his father”, or “we consider ourselves as one family”, or other paltry emotions from which I understood, after long meditation, that this weak person lacks a personal identity and can only see himself as a follower for someone. It is noteworthy that the concept of “followers” is, for us, deeper than one might think, for it means that two or more families in the village or the town divide the subjects, and each party takes its own share. In the civil field, we used to say “the Sultan’s subjects”, for he owned the land and the people living on it. The vulnerable people prefer to be protected, for this spares them the efforts of shaping their own personality, and thinking about the issues of the city or a lower level. As a result, there would be outstanding people and “weakened” people. In fact, standing out requires to have a stance, to defend it, and to say no sometimes. To stand out lies in accepting if your conscience orders you to do so, and refusing if your conscience orders you to do so. As for silence, it does not expose you to any danger, but it allows you to lean back comfortably, drink coffee with the fortunate, and your son will be given a position he might or might not deserve. Not to die, not to starve, to be present ostensibly before the leader, to survive due to the fragments falling from his tables, this may be all that the majority in our country aims for.

            How can we reconcile this with our presence in the Church with the Lord to Whom we say sometimes yes, and sometimes no? The Christ would leave the ninety nine sheep to look for the lost one in the mountains to shepherd it, the Christ who said to the last man: you are My beloved. How can we be such a great thing in Church, and still accept to be meaningless in the world? Nobody is confident that he exists even if all leaders on earth died.

Translated from Arabic – 18.10.10

Original Text: “التابعون” – 17.12.95

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1995, Articles, Raiati

Love Thinks No Evil / December 10, 1995

“Love thinks no evil” (1Corinthians 13: 5). Being human means thinking evil, for humans are in a constant state of fear. We do not want to see our weaknesses, so we do not have to get rid of them. We think evil about others, for in this we find comfort and excuse. Our eyes see through others’ hearts, yet only God knows hearts. We conceive our own images of others. But the real image necessitates mercy, a quality rarely found amongst humans. God wants us, first and foremost, to trust others. Trust will help them improve and make them more trustworthy. Everyone deserves to be trusted, for confidence strengthens and reforms us. Trusting someone is your connection to him and his way to God.

            “Love suffers long and is kind”. It requires patience, and the latter requires listening carefully to others, understanding them as they are, seeing their good aspects, even if they shouted or cursed. They may be shouting because they are suffering, because they thought evil. They also see us through the image they have conceived for us. No one knows anyone except through the images we take of each other, though these images are often unfair. The apostle also claims that love endures all things, all harm. Some people want to hurt us, to trample us and see us trampled. Despite all this, we shall be patient, for perhaps we may deliver them from their misery. They do not know that they are harming themselves by harming us. They do not know that they hate themselves. We shall grant them tenderness because it is their last chance for salvation. We shall be kind to protect them for the aggressiveness of their own hearts. We shall neither rave nor revenge. The other is the one who is present, and his presence will increase if we were kind, so he shall be a new person.

            Fear of isolation makes us offend people, and we think that this will help us enhance our identity. But, we do not know that only the Holy Spirit can vanish this isolation if we received It in our soul to temper it. The base of all this is that people are weak. And the weak needs the strong to console him and support him. Therefore, we shall not ask him about what he is doing against us or against himself, for what is important is to relieve him of his agony. Perhaps the love we grant would help him get out of his selfishness in which he used to confine himself. The confrontation is quite difficult; because he must destroy the walls which he thinks are protecting him. His consciousness is a weapon against the fake veil behind which he is hiding. It is tormenting to see yourself naked, for numerous are the defects you will discover; yet this is the first step of the remedy. Our concern is his healing. But we shall avoid severity, for our tenderness will let him recognize that we are veiling him with a garment of light. He will be happy to know that he can be adorned with lightsome apparel. And we shall also rejoice in the truth that has been bestowed upon him and has changed him.

            Every one is capable of being great in the eyes of God. But he will not see this greatness unless our patience, forbearance and kindness made him feel loved. No one is forever condemned to dwell in darkness. No one is completely enlightened or completely dark. Even the enlightened needs to be consoled and supported to prevent him from getting tired of his virtue and considering it dry. As for the dark one, we need to tell him that he can save himself by accepting the salvation God has made available for him.

            This is the story of life. People rescue people. Those who have their God in them, who have felt His presence, can show to others His beauty, so they shall leap like deer and wonder. Aspiring to perfection is possible, and insisting on beauty is a demand to the soul that yearns for beauty. Every soul is originally beautiful, for God in it is its beauty. And every soul can move towards God, for God moves it. But all this requires the soul to be open, to carve righteousness and grace bearing. It would then be new as the dawn.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “المحبة لا تظن السوء” – 10.12.95

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