Rev. Paul Haidostian, Ph.D., continues to write his letters from
Twenty-six days of our lives have gone by, spiritually challenging, but mostly wasted and distressing. All life remains suspended and threatened until further notice, including academic life at
The good news of these days comes to us on the billboards of
One local bank lists six different times when
War humor is also on the rise. “The Shiites of Lebanon are certainly the most educated community,” one joke says, “because they spend maximum time in schools,” referring to the fact that the majority of the population of Southern Lebanon and
Unfortunately, the military race in Lebanon is still on: between a “mighty” army that has secured the justification of its atrocious acts and state terrorism before it even commits them, and a militia that has entered a “holy” war, the beginning of which has caused further divisions in Lebanon, and the end of which can lead to more terror and conflicts.
Politically speaking, the vast majority of the followers of the developments have reason to be pessimistic. The powers that control international politics are not honest brokers and therefore do not have justice and peace as their aim, and the totalitarian regimes of the region are not even capable to function in a culture where justice and peace are valued.
And I pity the Lebanese politicians, a majority of whom are still and only interested in strengthening their position vis-?-vis their local opponents. Television and Radio talk-shows fill the air. A few dozen individuals keep appearing on all channels to interpret and reinterpret the events in ways that exactly fit their limited ideology. There are those who speak about the current war in
Soon, the pages of four weeks of this infamous war on
We have been used to be envied, as you all know, not pitied. But there are still reasons to envy
In the face of the crisis, I am impressed by the solidarity of the Lebanese with each other even if they continue to politically disagree. As a friend pointed to me more than one-fourth of the population has been displaced, and yet crime, violence, and social unrest remain at a minimum.
I am impressed by the sacrificial work done by the volunteers and the aid workers, some of whom arrived in
I am impressed by the hope and faith of the Lebanese population. I noted after our church service in the
I am impressed by the perseverance of the people of
I am impressed by the multitude of individuals and organizations in the world that have shown special love for
These will help build both the morale as well as the bridges.
But I am also disappointed!
I am disappointed in the Lebanese official political structure. We do not have still, a crisis management center or structure in the country. There are dedicated individuals, Prime Minister F. Saniora, and Minister of Health M. Khalife, just to name two. But neither relief efforts, nor information dissemination have been organized or centralized by the government.
I am disappointed in parts of the Middle Eastern populations, Islamic parties and leaders, who capitalize on the pain and suffering of their people, neglect the human in the other, and glorify violence and hatred of the “other”, sometimes known as the “Westerner”, the “Christian” or the “infidel.”
I am disappointed in the huge gap I notice between the goodness and benevolence of the average American citizens I have tasted, and the policies of their government that often reflect a careless reading of the real needs of “weaker” nations, and a patronizing management of the situations of the world. Much material, natural, cultural, organizational, educational, and developmental wealth has been given to the
I am disappointed in those countries, churches, and individuals, who claim to have the gospel of Jesus Christ as the norm of their life and yet fail to ask the critical questions of justice, mercy and peace in this world. Christians cannot conform to this world, or to the dominant powers of this world. The peace of Christ cannot be spread by the bloodshed of humans victims of wars no matter what the reasons for those wars, and the
Despite all the disappointment, we do not lose heart. There is work to be done both during and after the crisis.
The Christian population of the Middle East is called to play a unique role in these times: to read the Gospel of reconciliation in ways that are not hijacked by the political cultures of a “Christian” West, and to be living witnesses of the love of Christ to non-Christians in the Middle East who sometimes make it difficult to pour that love into their midst. And the need is to do and be both in ways that are critical of the status quo both in the East and the West.
Till we communicate again, let us all remember that what binds us all is neither defined by political agreement, nor common ideology, nor convenience, but by our humbleness and love as undeserving children of God's grace.
Rev. Paul Haidostian, Ph.D.
Riad El Solh 1107 2090
Source: Jean Eckian from
7 August 2006