After returning to school after our summer vacation, I wrote this to a Lebanese colleague. In return, she assured me of her safety in her sister's home in the US (where she had gone for a holiday visit), and sent me a translation of an Arabic article written by her brother in Al Hayat. The article appears below the letter in an indented passage.
Throughout my now ending vacation, while I was home in India or in Turkey, or while we were holidaying in the US, witnessing the wedding of my elder son to his American wife, enjoying the hospitality and goodwill and warmth of the recent extension to our family, I was acutely conscious of the barbarity being wreaked upon your country in the name of civilization and security by the state of Israel with the aid and abetment of the US government. We sat in bars while your people were being bombed; we were sitting in Boston airport listening to the lies of the Israeli government about the massacre in Qana that had just occurred the previous night. All the while I wished and prayed for the safety of you and your family, even as I fumed and cursed under my breath. How much more soul-destroying it must be for you to see the recently restored prosperity and peace of your country being turned into a nightmare in one night.
Please be assured that here in Turkey, as everywhere else throughout the middle east (except of course in Israel), popular opinion is solidly behind the Lebanese and against Israel. I know this does not bring any relief to your pain, but it constrains governments from being complicit in inflicting any more pain.
I have to say I often feel like giving up on internationalism, critical thinking, and other shibboleths of the IB, but it is also solidarity that motivates me to write to you, critical thinking that helps me to sift through the lies and the bias of the media. Someone called David, a teacher in an unidentified IB school in Lebanon, has written a remarkable e-mail to the TOK forum, which truly set me on fire. I am enclosing it for your reading. His question remains unanswered in the ensuing responses, but every word of what he says resonates deeply within me.
With much love and my most fervent hopes for your safety
TOK IN A TIME OF WAR
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the start of the school year in Lebanon has been postponed. I am not going to make my feelings about it public here. It will serve no useful purpose to let it be known that I believe the Israeli state to be involved in an illegitimate, possibly illegal, massacre of innocent Lebanese citizens (and U.N. observers), nor will it help for me to let it be known that I see no prospect of the Israeli state ever being brought to justice for the war crimes it is perpetuating. Neither will it help if I let it be known that I believe the U.S. to be directly complicit, and the U.K. indirectly complicit, in allowing the Israeli state to continue its acts of vengeance. The U.N.’s capitulation is also another subject on which I shall withhold my comments, as is the U.S. and U.K.’s craven, inhuman comments on cease-fires (Robert Fisk’s article is very good on this: see ‘The truth of Blair’s ‘urgent diplomacy’’ in ‘The Independent’ (a U.K. newspaper) of 29-07-2006). I shall also not comment upon what appears to be a little-reported fact that the capture by Hizbollah of the 2 Israeli soldiers which sparked the Israeli state into throwing its toys out of the pram took place on Lebanese soil (for more on this go to firstname.lastname@example.org).
All of the above, of course, could provide an interesting ToK thread on its own: How is the war being represented by various media (blah blah, etc. etc.)? Doubtless some of you may wish to take me to task for publically (not) expressing the above views, for not condemning Hizbollah, for appearing biased against the state of Israel, and so on and so forth. If so, then you would correct, and you would be missing the point.
My summer holiday has, thus, been extended: I am able to lay on a beach in Greece for another month, read the newspapers, watch TV, go to the cinema, enjoy an Ouzo on a balmy terrace. I am, of course, one of the lucky ones: I have a non-Lebanese passport, hence can get out, unlike Lebanese colleagues who cannot, unlike the murdered for whom it is now too late (yes, the same applies to those in Haifa, but a balanced discussion is not the point of this posting), unlike the displaced who have nowhere left to go. As far as I know, I have only had my worldly belongings destroyed by Israeli (drone) airstrikes. I have not lost my life, nor has anyone I know suffered from ‘terminal collateral damage.’ Yet.
So, with all this time on my hands, I began (inevitably) to think about what I am – a teacher – and the subject that I teach – ToK.
..and, inevitably, I ask myself What is ToK (for) in a time of war? What is ToK (for) in a country at war, having recently come through a war, in a place where the constant threat of war will be present for a while, even after the bombs have stopped falling on power stations, bridges, apartment blocks and hospitals, in a school with a lot fewer students than before either because the absent are displaced or dead?
That is the context, what of the teacher? I (together with another colleague) will be responsible for teaching ToK in the above-mentioned context, and it is the “I” that interests me: “I” who holds the views (not) expressed at the beginning of this posting; “I”, whose reasons for becoming a teacher were influenced by ‘Teaching as a Subversive Activity’ and ‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,’ “I”, then, who believes that education should be about change, not about perpetuating the status quo, and radical change at that. “I” who still, quaintly, believe in the rather passé grand narrative of revolutionary change (and, yes, I know about the etymology of the term ‘revolution’, thank you very much).
Thus, we have this person and that context. Now, what of the subject, what of ToK?
There are possibly two lines of argument: the first is that ToK helps students to become better critical thinkers, more open-minded, more tolerant, less prone to being deceived, and all of the other Enlightenment Ideals embodied by the IB Mission Statement (let’s not get into that). There is also, attached to this, the argument that education should be concerned with equipping students to deal with what they will later face in the ‘real world’ (which, to sidetrack for a while, is too often translated into ‘equipping them for University,’ and I will keep my comments on this bastardization of an educational ideal to myself), and this may involve ‘sheltering’ them whilst at school, providing a nurturing, caring, safe environment (fill in the rest of this sentence with empty phrases chosen from your own school’s ‘Mission Statement’) and so on and so forth.
The other line of argument is that ToK is the only thing that can help students to make sense of what is happening (around them) and to help them to see what to actually do about it.
Accepting this will involve the following: firstly, taking the ToK ‘syllabus’ and junking certain parts of it (which, it seems to me, is something we all already do to a major or minor extent already, cutting corners on this part of the course, substituting that part of the course for another ‘Linking Question’ and so on); secondly, taking the ToK syllabus and shaping it for certain ends (let’s be honest, using it, perverting it, subverting it), something which is very easily done, let’s face it; thirdly, it may well also involve forgetting all about the relationship between what we do in the classroom, and students’ grades – we often profess to be more interested in education than ‘training’ for tests, although the recent outpouring of discussion, anguish and hand-wringing about grades on another thread makes me despair that this is the case – and, well, now is the time to demonstrate that we are more interested in education than in training. If, as seems to be the ‘consensus’ of that discussion that ToK final grades are a lottery in any case, then it doesn’t much matter anyway.
Of course, it may be objected, teachers often have a greater sense of their own influence than we in fact do, in which case these messianic, megalomaniac ramblings can quite easily be dismissed. But then, if we had no influence, we wouldn’t be teachers in the first place, and we wouldn’t earnestly engage in the sorts of discussions that this forum allows, the vast majority of which presuppose that we do in fact have just such an influence, and which experience tells us that we do in fact have. We may profess to being teachers in order to help students to ‘think for themselves’ and so on, but what this really means is that we select what we give students, with the intention that they will think a little more like we do, because we (think we) have got it more or less right, we think we have something worth giving, we have something that we think others ought to have.
Following on from this, it may also be objected that this is all some species of ‘indoctrination’ that is being ‘proposed’, and that we as teachers have no right to subjugate the students in our ‘care’ to this sort of teleological propagandizing.
However, such an objection appears to schizophrenically misunderstand what it is we do as educators. Education is run by educators, not mechanics, because we think we know best what it is that young people need. Education is structured upon this belief: we impose curricula and organize the delivery and testing of those curricula based upon it. And, pace the two educational texts mentioned earlier, we control the delivery, content and examination of what we think they need, at both a micro- and a macro-level, because we know best. Mechanics, likewise, are trusted with the responsibility of training future mechanics because they too know what is needed.
Given this, why not simply extend the ‘logic’ of this assumption (that we too often try to deny)? Why should I, as an educator, not do what I think is best and do with ToK what has been outlined above, especially when it is so ably suited to it and so easily accomplished? Why should “I”, the “I” with the views (not) outlined at the beginning of this posting, the “I” with the view of education’s aims that I have, not take this golden opportunity to actually take ‘back’ Theory of Knowledge from the creeping forces of the Student Profile and the Mission Statement and the growing bureaucratization and transformation into a business of the IBO? As a Biology teacher (I suspect) I probably would not be able to ask these questions of my subject, but as a ToK teacher I can. And I should. And it will take some very strong arguments, justifications, moral imperatives, to not do so, and to not do what is being ‘proposed’. The onus is, I believe, on those who would not do what has been ‘proposed’ to demonstrate why their stance is not actually unethical.
If any of you have ever been in the situation that I find myself in, I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts, as this is the first time that I ever find myself in it and, as I hope I have pointed out, I find myself in something of a dilemma. However, in order to ask for help, sometimes you have to offer something first, and that is why this posting is as open as can be. I do not want to have a ‘discussion’ about the war, I do not want isolated phrases cherry-picked out for ‘analysis’, and I do not want to have a ‘discussion’ about Mission Statements and Marking Criteria. I want some help in finding out what to actually do, when and if my school reopens.
How many wars in one lifetime? How many can a person tolerate? A diary of a million refugees: group migration under a sky of planes and clouds
By Rabih Jaber
Published in Al Hayat magazine in Arabic, July 25, 2006
Translated into English by Ghada Jaber
A country under fire. Death chases people. Where do they run? Half a million are displaced from the south, according to the UN, half a million in eleven days. Beirut is full of them. They cross mountains, they cross the Bekaa valley and they cross the wilderness into the far Damascus. The Palestinian refugee camps in Sidon, Tyre and the north open their doors to the displaced people. Trails of people on the roads, Steinbeck described displacement, he didn’t describe this one. Planes chase people, on the roads they get killed. The man who left his city for an hour told his wife he’ll back in an hour, I leave Beirut for an hour and I’ll be back, he went and didn’t come back. A shell hunted him on the Rmeileh road between Sidon and Damour. The sky rains shells in this hot summer.
The displaced family from the south did not reach Beirut in two hours, they did not arrive in three hours, the road got longer. The coastal highway is torn apart. Bridges fell down and military ships filled the sea. The family went to the mountains through the Jezzine road. If they took the Iklim road, would they have survived the bombing of the Gharifeh Bridge? A family died on that bridge. On another bridge, another family died.
People like herds. A hammer falls from above. Five killed here, seven killed there. We don’t see Baghdad on TV screens anymore. Media is horrible. Iraq gets forgotten now. Here’s Lebanon burning. The world is horrible. They survived because they went through Jezzine. They entered the shades of the mountains, the green trees’ thick shade, and vanished in the lost villages on the hills. The summer is pretty in the mountains, temperatures are low here and in the evening the fog comes. The drive to Beirut is long, very long and one may not arrive. They went through the Maten road; they said they will go down the Mdeirej bridge. Luck saved them. The car broke down in Barouk. Had it not broken down in Barouk! People discover their country these days. While escaping the bombs, death, fire and blood, while hopping like rabbits from village to village, they discover new names, new roads, and pray.
The time of disaster is time for prayer. Don’t bless anyone. Not the friend, not the foe. Who’s the friend, who’s the foe? The foe kicks you out of your home. Who’s the friend and who’s the foe? Who kicks you out and who keeps you there? These are dark times. How do you complain and what do you complain about while you’re alive? You’re not thrown under the Basta Bridge; you’re not on the asphalt with your eyes searching the place for a cheese sandwich you won’t find.
On the Road
People on the road are dying. On the car tops are mats, blankets and sacs. From the windows, you see a white flag. This is a car escaping the borders, a car fleeing not knowing where the road takes it. They raise the white flag and they flee. An old yellow Datsun car with cracked doors, from the back window faces show, five children, seven children and three women next to the driver, sweaty faces and a sweaty car. Steam rises from the car. Above, heavens stretch, blue boundless sky. Where does this yellow Japanese car go?
Sailing the Sea
Foreigners sail the sea. They have limited time. They have to go fast. They packed and met in herds on the beach. They do not meet at the Damour beach at the railroad. This is not the two-year war and these are foreigners. They are not from here. They came here like everyone does. Do they love history? Did they know about 1860, before and after? a country raised by wars now falling apart. We were born in troubled times. Do wars lift us or smash us to the ground? Whenever we come out of a war we enter a new one. How many wars in one lifetime? How many can a person tolerate? The Tower Square (Martyr’s square) is empty. No one steps on the white pebbles. We are not in the middle of the nineteenth century when tents were mounted for people from the mountains, the Taim valley and Damascus. Will the refugee tents be mounted here the day after tomorrow? The poor human… The foreigners sail the sea. On Thursday July 20, 2006, they are crowding on the port. They have good luck; somewhere someone looks after them. The natives, where do they flee? They are not foreigners. They were born on this land and on this land they die. Where do they go? We won’t go. This is our city. These villages we know. This is not heroism. We got used to these places. Familiarity, familiarity, it is hard to give up habits and habits kill. We got used to these roads. We got used to these trees. We got used to these shops. We got used to these restaurants. Abed Al Wahab El Inglizi corner, the elliptical shape of the City Palace Cinema, Youseff Sader road, Ayoub Tabet street and the Holiday Inn ruins. Jafet library and the Omary mosk, the sea as you see it while crossing the Fouad Chehab Bridge. Why do you write this expression? Don’t you fear for the bridge? A blue bridge connects us to the world. People escape through it to Larnaca, Paphos, elsewhere. You stand on the street at the Normandy dump overlooking a human blond haired herd, rosy cheeks and colored eyes, sweaty faces and sweaty clothes, bags and sacs, a child climbing her mothers neck crying. The heat bothers her, the crowds bother her, and the smells bother her. They speak English, the mother and daughter. The breeze moves through the small pine trees, doves circle the sky reaching the top of the Soddeek mosk (Dabbaghah mosk of the 19th century Beirut) and flies over Fosh and Wegan (Fashkha Souk) and the Limpy, doves soaring high and then low not knowing what is happening on earth. We are not doves, we don’t grow wings, we did not learn to fly.
They hit the airport. The man said he was on the road when it happened. He was going to his house in Chweifat south of Beirut. He was going home when his car rocked, he felt it bump and crash in an unseen body before he saw the red light and smoke. In the morning too the smoke has risen-less condensed now but still black-from the airport fuel tanks. Why hit the fuel? What secrets in the minds of armies? How can we imagine a man riding a plane, flying at night, shelling a city below? He sees the broad roads and the street lights, he sees the cars, he sees the houses, shops and buildings, he sees the bridges and tunnels, then presses the buttons and bombards a city… how can we picture this human being? He is real. A plane cannot fly without him. How can it? The tunnel lights on the coastal road are yellowish orange. The lights fill your eyes as you come into Beirut from Tyre at night. The military pilot saw the lights before bombarding. Does the plane shake at that moment? How did the NATO forces bombard Dresden? How did the Germans bombard London? Who understands the human being? Ships leave the Tyre port. Thousands gather in front of the Internal Security quarters in Dbayeh. Military battle ships come from far to evacuate people. From the ‘Hayat’ balcony we see them enter Beirut port. The country is left for the natives. General Carl Gensen said the evacuation process is going well, “we hope to evacuate six thousand by Friday”.
Canada rents tourist ships to transfer its citizens. Hundreds of Canadians wait at the port, mats on the floor, bottles of water and heads raised to the sky. The sound of planes is not a good sign, civilian planes are not flying, these must be military. In the mountains, you hear better than in the city. The city kills the sound from the sky. The mountains have a vast space, quiet space, easily transmits the sound of the sky. You hear the military planes; you hear the small inspection plane (MK, the farmers call it Mother of Kamel), and you hear the birds. You hear the fog creeping to the earth, you hear the leaves and the clouds as they pass, your blessing God. Forum de Beirut is crowded with English people; a British gray boat came for them. September 11, 1840, a boat other than this one came but did not take its citizens. Now, ships come to us with humanitarian missions. That’s good. Are we sad because people are not dying? We are not sad. Go to peace and security. Go to a good life, may your food be tasty. Drink pure water and spend a white moment looking at the vast skies. The blue sea surrounds the ship from all four corners, turns like a bracelet and the torn city disappears. The city of smoke, the city of glass towers, the city with waves of displaced people flowing its streets. The city is not a disaster zone. How could it not be with its southern suburbs turn into rubble, mountains above mountains of rubble? Under this rubble, lived people who gave birth, told stories, people who lived and others who died.
The Sanayyeh Garden tuned into a refugee camp. On the grass and mosquitoes, refugees sleep. Haret Hreik residents were scattered by the war. Haret Hreik was turned to rubble, Beer el Abed too. The street between them is soaked with the smells of burning asphalt.
The Indian boat Bombay carried 700 Indians from the Beirut port. The captain said I have space, who wants to come?
On the road to Damascus, there are trails of people. After the 1860 events, thousands came from Damascus to this coast. The past days witnessed trails in the opposite direction but the planes stormed again and the roads were blocked. Even the Maaser road was blocked. Trails of people take side roads now, from the south, Bekaa and Hermel, to the mountains in the east. We escape wherever we escape. We run to where we can stay alive. The crisis passes so we go back to our homes and fields and hope the pot won’t crash again, may be the country won’t break again, a fragile country, made of pottery, pottery is fragile, pottery breaks easily.
Water is tasty this summer, but where is it? The bridge fell in the water. The village neighboring the river was living a quiet life. It is a distant village, far from public roads, far from road maps, who shells it? Sometimes smugglers cross this bridge but that is rare. No one knows this village. The planes came and bombed it. A handful of homes, not really a village; it is a village, it was a village, but now it burned.
The southern suburb is crowded with people. This is Beirut. In sardine cans we live, then the bombs fall from above, how tiny is this human. We are buried under rubble.
Hundreds of Dutch citizens left to Damascus through the Masnah road. Around four thousand Germans left this country by land and by the sea. Cyprus is crowded with evacuees. This sudden war bothered the island. It was full of tourists, fun and happiness. Suddenly, these scared human herds arrive. The Chenok helicopter leaves Beirut port towards the Cypriot island. People on the helicopter pray. Did they read the Works of the Prophets and what happened to the wrecked ship on Cypriot sand? Did they read the Odyssey and hear the news of the sleeping woman in Paphos? Would the sky route take them to a better life? Would they remember this country- the one they left behind- in their prayers?
The Lady and the Old Man
The south is under fire, from the blue line to the Litani river, from the Litani to the Zahrani, from Zahrani to the Beirut river and from the Beirut river to the Bared river. The south expands. Bilal from Sidon sends his family to Damascus and moved to work in a hotel in Beirut. Salah, Hanaa, Raghida and Youssef left the suburb with their families and spread over apartments in Dbayeh, Ras El Nabh and Raml El Zarif. A million people left their homes, UN says. On Sasseen square (Ashrafieh) cars are parked at 12:30 noon on Saturday July 22, 2006. On the sidewalk in front of ‘Dweihi Sweets’ poor refugees are sleeping on the floor, women, men, children and elderly, a woman holding her baby and a girl hanging on to her mother’s long black dress. The scarf is soaked with sweat and the face gloomy and tired. How exhausted this women coming from far is! How tired and how much more tired will she get? Who will drench her thirst with a sip of water? Who will give her a roof, bed and corner for this baby, a corner where they can sleep without flies, sun or mosquitoes? What are they waiting on these roads for? Schools and gardens filled with refugees. In a nearby restaurant, teens are playing board games and watching TV, a Philadelphia sandwich on the plate, a Fajita on another, the first with meat, the second with chicken, Mexican and American sandwiches that came to our country years ago and became quite popular. On another street, the grocer argues with a customer, the lemon is as expensive as gold. They don’t fight, they argue. The old man who enters the pharmacy and asked about the medicine price, which one is less, leaves without buying any. She measured his blood pressure, 19, very high, without medicine he risks a stroke, he looks like he does not have the money to buy the medicine, the pharmacists told her employee to go after him, give him the medicine, give him the medicine. The girl runs after the old man, she calls him, the price is 57 thousand Lebanese Lira but she doesn’t want the money, let him take the pack and save his life, money has no value, bridges have no value, airports have no value, homes have no value, fields have no value, planes have no value, ships have no value, cities have no value, squares and orchards, rivers with no value, come old man, come take the pack, take the pack and don’t pay the price. Money has no value, come grandpa.
The old man vanished into the Souk. He heard the girl call him and rushed to disappear among the crowds. An empty road, crowded roads, down town Beirut is empty. Restaurants are closed this Saturday, people are waiting, they say the southern borders are burning in battle. They say today there may be an invasion, incursion, insurgent operation. They say lots of things, talking is priceless. We fill time with gossip. We talk about borders, Maroun El Ras, Margeauoon, Bint Jbeil, Khiam, Nabatieh and KfarJawz. We talk, talk and talk. No one is quiet, 12:30 noon; the clock at the parliament square tolls, the Abed clock tolls but no one hears it except a few soldiers here and there. Ronaldo stands alone on a glass door, Etoile is closed, the Center of town is deserted. AlBalad is closed, Star Bucks and Rafai too. Far ahead stands the rocket-like Marina tower and next to it the Four Seasons, nice name. We are now in summer and then the fall comes. During spring, we were remembering last spring’s demonstrations. Centuries pass this city, this strange land. You will cross the roads to the sea, empty or almost empty roads, closed or almost closed shops, a pile of bread in Petit Café’ and packed sacs, Sand or flour sacs? The place turned into a store and an aid kitchen or a shelter from glass? You will pass by this afternoon to find men in white inside cooking grains in deep pots.
Streets without People
The Center of Beirut is deserted. The exhibition (Maarath) street is deserted, Hussein Al Ahdab is deserted, Saad Zaghlool, Abdel Malak street (Abdel Jawad in the 19th century) also. The fountains in front of the municipality do not spout water. 11 dry fountainheads. The sky is the same, vast blue and careless but the fountains are quiet. An old man hardly moving, handsome, assisted by a maid who does not look Syrilanki. In Lebanon, there are 90 thousand Syrilanki men and women. Reuters said that Colombo received 264 workers coming from Lebanon in one day, another thousand registered at the port. Will the city be emptied from all its East Asian workers?
Why do they escape to their countries? There is a Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, there’s an earthquake? Why do they flee? Do they think the country is heading for destruction? Mira knows Beirut, she saw it rock all last year, explosions, explosive cars, assassinations and victims. Human waves flooded the squares, Mira saw and Mira heard. Would she go to Colombo, to her far village on the distant island? Does Mira love the Colombo capital? What do we know about Mira? What does Mira know about our country? Are these words about Mira? Mira most likely does not read Arabic.
Listen Mira: in our south, there are villages. Sometimes these villages burn. In the heart of our country, there is a city. Sometimes this city burns. We have other cities, cities whose names are not on our money bills but they are also cities, some by the sea and others distant but they are all cities, in them you find streets, buildings, cars, shops and people. Lots of people Mira in lots of cities and villages. Cities and villages that connect with bridges and roads, lots of cities and villages Mira, all full of people, people who are similar, the human face is the same: two eyes, two ears, mouth, and nose. Lots of people live here and they are all alike Mira, they don’t know how much alike they are, but they are, they never meet though Mira. A country made of pottery, every morning we pray the country does not fall on our heads.
The Roof of a Building
From home to the newspaper, he does not meet anyone. Walk for an hour in the city and you don’t meet anyone! The silence of death haunts the streets. Where are the people of the city? Mar Jerjos church bells go crazy at nine in the morning on Sunday July 23, 2006.
Schools and mosks filled with refugees. In Howd Elwilaya, Salim Slam, Mseitbeh, Basta, Karakas, rooms fill with people, kids and laundry on iron wires.
On the roof of a building in Ras El Nabh, families from Bint Jbeil, Zrarieh and Tibneen gathered. The roof turned into a refugee camp overlooking the Bshara Khoury Statue, the old border between east and west Beirut. They cook rice and sleep on the roof under the clouds and stars. The bombarding from the sea, they hear very well, they also hear that from planes above. Smoke rises over the southern suburbs. Building residents go to the roof and spend the evening with them, better without a ceiling. The sky is our ceiling. We talk to each other, encourage each other and say it is not the first time and if god wills we will survive this one too. Who survives and who stays?
The man sits in a locked room and writes about the sky, planes and rockets. He writes about bridges collapsing before cars, he writes about bodies of people torn apart while eating bread or running on the road. The man sits and writes blue words on white paper, which no one will read. The ships bombard and the planes too, the man writes. Why does he write? Why does he write? Does he know whether he will be alive tomorrow? May be he will be buried under rubble tonight. “ 45 Australians were able to board the Greek boat… and 250 Philippine citizens were evacuated through Damascus in buses wrapped with Philippine flags and white ones to let the pilots know this is a civilian bus… also leaving Beirut are two Swiss and Italian buses” what are you writing?
In an American car (a red Ford left here by people displaced beyond the Atlantic), you come down from the southern Mount Lebanon to the valleys under Reshmaya then climb the hills on the other side. From Alley, you will descend on dangerous roads to Jomhour, Hazmieh and then Beirut. The important thing is to take the road right, this one takes you to Ashrafieh, the other takes you to Galerie Semaan, to Cheyah, to the southern suburb. Watch out for these roads, watch where you go. You will hear the planes bomb Dahr El Baidar road, pull up the windows, turn on the AC, waste fuel, it is okay, the air-condition distracts the kids with its noise, they don’t hear the bombs, turn on the radio, no the news are horrible. Put on the tape, Beethoven. The kids won’t like Beethoven. Put your foot on the pedal, faster, faster, and faster. You have to cross the bridge, you have to get home. You have to survive this day and write about it. And then comes a day when you won’t and you won’t write.