American citizens Fouad Gellad, left, and his wife Mona drink, from Baltimore, Md., drink glasses of orange juice served by a cocktail waitress from the Orient Queen cruise ship in the port of the capital Beirut in Lebanon Wednesday, July 19, 2006. Hundreds of Americans wiped tears, hugged relatives and grumbled about delays in evacuation efforts as well as confusing directions as they boarded a luxury cruise ship on Wednesday that was to evacuate them from war-torn Lebanon to Cyprus. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
The AUB hospital sent out an urgent call for blood donations. Others were organizing aid to refugee families housed in schools and other make-shift shelters. A protest against the Israeli bombing has been scheduled for Thursday at 11 am in the city center. Will anyone be listening and watching? Lebanon has only words and pictures with which to fight. As Khalil Gibran wrote, “your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” By now, Lebanon must be the wisest of nations. Not everyone finds it easy to transmute pain into wisdom like Gibran’s Prophet. “Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.” I fear that, for most, pain creates a reservoir of revenge: a pool of hatred in which to baptize another generation of killers. Does terror ever really work? And what becomes of the bombardier’s soul? In the film The Fog of War, former US Secretary of Defense McNamara admits that, had the Japanese won World War II, he would have been convicted of war crimes for his involvement in the firebombing of Japanese cities in World War II. But who gave him, or anyone else with the power to win and write history, the license to kill?
Are the weak and the losers reduced to a mere muffled cry? Plenty of wisdom: plenty of blood. Is Lebanon’s cry audible?
Patrick McGreevy heads up the American Studies Program at the American University of Beirut.