“I was born in 1976, that means I died in 1976. In Beirut, red shoes, white blouse, blue skirt fell to the street.”
This is the first memory I have of my very last memory. How is it that I know this? It is not something I remember. Of course not. How does one really remember their own death? But it is something I know deep in my gut. This present, physical body of mine was never shot, but could I perhaps have inherited this memory from somewhere? More and more research today, by way of epigenetics, shows that trauma can be passed down genetically. Could this memory have come through by way of the collective memory?
Over 20 years ago, ceasefire was called and general amnesty declared. We picked up the ragged pieces of what was left of our lives and moved on after our civil war ended. A collective amnesia, supported by both the government and the people took ahold, and we all agreed to forget … as quickly as possible.
The city I have inherited is one that lacks a coherent history. The bullet riddled walls tell a story, while the skyscrapers tell another. Porsches and Range Rovers parked side-by-side in front of champagne nightclubs give a hint of celebration and success, while behind the tinted windows, we see wounds that have never healed, trauma that has been disguised, and pain manifesting itself through physical and mental diseases. How is it that we never ask why there is so much cancer in our community? How is it that our children so young have been attacked by the most unfair and vicious of diseases.
I believe that the lack of reconciliation after our civil war created the distinction of dysfunction in the city we live in today. Our lack of apology to one another, apologies for what we did to each other, contributed to the lack of respect we have toward one another, a lack of unity, and even, a lack of love. Lack of love toward community and often also toward oneself.
“Love that is the essence of what we are, the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything.”
In 1994 Beirut summoned me, and I decided to move here. I was 18 years old and the war had just ended. I remember walking through the old airport, my eyes picking up the details of peeling paint and mold bursting through the cracks. Today, I miss that fabulous zodiac mural that greeted us upon arrival, or was it departure … During the rebirth of our city, we traded in our luminous dreams and Milky Way skies for greige, glass, and dust.
Enter the clubbing scene. Dancing may have been the closest thing we had to release and reconciliation, as we swayed and swooned side-by-side in nightclubs like the former Monkey Rose, Crazy, and original BO18, we wondered why we had thought each other to be so different before. In these dark spaces, as our bodies collided and caressed, we unconsciously became one. But this oneness was temporary; the duration it took to down a bottle of whisky and dance until the sun came up.
Perhaps at the time, this was the only way to move forward. The only way to numb the pain of the loss of family, friends, and country. To become so emotionally and physically numb that even lying to someone’s face has become a norm.
Twenty years later, we have yet to apologize to each other for the atrocities committed. We have yet to have a real reconciliation process. We have yet to talk about our pain that was shoved down so deep that it has turned us hard and brittle. Because we did not apologize, we failed to come together as a community, we failed to develop respect toward one another. And this lack of respect, coupled with decades of suppressed pain, is very much present in our society today. It is even passed down to our children, either through genetic inheritance, or through our parenting.
“Cosmic memory. Transference across generations,and in my heart, cosmic collisions. One after the other until I collapse into a single point of you and me.”
Maybe it was always like this. Maybe since time began. We are all born with a tendency toward violence. We were biologically created this way, which sealed the deal on our dominance as a species. But today, we are no longer in need of this tendency, nor are we ignorant. Perhaps, it is time for a collective evolution in which we can all agree to move forward by way of compassion and love, rather than oblivion. It is time to heal. To heal this small beauty in a most violent part of the world. Pain is the greatest teacher for compassion. It is time to apologize. It is time to acknowledge our pain in public. It is time to share and connect. It is time for love. Here, there is only love. Time to consciously step into the future that is ours to create. Time to come together, as we no longer wish to carry the burden of humiliation.
“Transmuting pain to love, the evolution of consciousness, gathering momentum. The continual state of love, present.”
Where to start? Often it is much easier than we think. There is a prayer from the island of Hawaii. It is called the Ho’oponopono, and it goes like this:
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” – Poem excerpts taken from Zeina’s poem titled:
96% Love 4% Beirut: Zero: Śunya