Just moments ago, I felt dread, hopelessness, and a dead empathetic sadness. The bombings have picked up again. Last night, I had hope things would calm down, as the intensity of the fighting did decrease from Saturday night. But tonight they are at it again, with a new energy, it seems. It was Thursday when they started up—though they’ve really been fighting for months—since March, really, when the crisis in Syria took a turn as Iran began backing the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. The renewed strength of the Alawite ruling class has pushed nearly 1 million Syrian (mostly Sunni) into Lebanon, upsetting the delicate political balance of thirds—one third Christian, one third Sunni, one third Shia.
Thursday, I went into the city with my aunt to buy presents to bring back to my friends and family in the States. We left the city around 2pm. Around nightfall—4 or 5pm—gunfights broke out and at least one bomb was detonated. Among the victims caught in the cross fire that night was an 11 year old boy.
The conflicts are mainly occurring between two downtown neighborhoods—one predominantly Alawite (and therefore, loyal to Assad’s regime) and the other a majority Sunni (in support of the Rebel forces). When I read the news from the United States and Europe, they seem to be asking if the Syrian Crisis is going to spill over into Lebanon. But the conflict is already here. It’s not a matter of if. The fighting has already been going on for so long. The recent bombing of the Iranian Embassy was just bringing it to the global media’s attention.
Sitting here in my living room, I’m just 4 miles away, but it might as well be another world. If I want to go to the supermarket for groceries, there’s no risk that I’ll be caught by a stray bullet. I could go to the movies, to the mall, even to the beach, if I liked. Hell, just two days ago, when the bombing sounded it’s worse, my uncle and I went to a concert at the University of Balamand.
It seems unfair that people in the city—many of them poor, and a great number of them having just left a war zone—find themselves trapped in another while I sit here, not only with peace of mind and a relative freedom of mobility, but in a kind of state of excitement.
You see, just moments ago, I received an email from a magazine I frequently read, stating they were going to run a short, non-fiction essay I submitted to them. It was so long ago that I had completely given up hope of even getting a polite rejection letter. Just seeing that “Re:Submission” email in my inbox was a shock. And now I’m filled with that rare, unbearable excitement that so intense it’s almost painful. What, exactly, am I supposed to do with all this intense emotion? And why, doesn’t it just feel good? Why does it also have to be so exasperating, so stomach-churning?
I imagine it’s probably best that every few minutes I’m brought back to earth by a sobering rumble in the walls. I know it must sound terribly self-indulgent and insensitive to say this, but it feels much easier to be anxious over the war going on just next door, than to feel excited by this uncertain success—however small it might turn out to be in the long run.
And I couldn’t have checked my email at a worse time. I already know I have no problem sleeping through gunfire. But this—this will surely keep me up all night.