As a comment to one of my posts, Anonymous asked:
“… do you find it normal to blog only in English? Best Syrian blogs are written in English, although this is great for exchanging ideas with other people all over the world, I think this will diminish their importance as a tool for change in our societies...like to know your point of view.”
I replied with what I thought at the time to be an appropriate comment of my own. Later that night, in bed, and before I surrounded to slumber creeping in on me, I gave it a second thought. Indeed why am I writing in English, my second language. Is it simply that I can write better in English than my native Arabic or is it my subconscious quest for vanity stirring me after a larger audience?
I am as comfortable writing in Arabic as I am in English. I definitely type quicker in English but I’m in no way living in the fast lane. I have ample time on my hand and can afford the luxury of typing with two digits only. I also relish the finesse, the intrigue and subtlety of Arabic as much as I admire the directness, efficiency and the imagism of English. Am I a different person when I think and write in English? In a way. Am I a more tolerant, open and restrained human being? Certainly.
I am a more accountable person in English. Therefore, I normally avoid sensitive and controversial issues. I have my own obligations, doctrines and loyalties. When it comes to Syria, I am a very patriotic person and my priorities, which might seem a little awkward to some of my patriotic liberal fellow countrymen, are very clear to me. Under no circumstances do I jeopardize what I believe to be in my country’s interests. Presently, our best interest does not lie in exposing our internal differences and political problems to the rest of the world. If we expect “the rest of the world” to help us achieve our aspirations then we are really mistaken. The right changes must and will only come from within. It might take a long time to do so but this is the only way my “limited” vision sees it. Although my true nature as a peace loving person might be masked by my indoctrinated stand on war and peace, this is indeed my true Arabic identity. I am longing for the day when an honorable and just peace prevails. However, and until then, I consider myself to be in a state of war. I am not talking about past, present or future governments here or on the other side. I am talking about my person. Ever since I can remember, my enemy has been working diligently on tarnishing my image; the way neutrals see me as an Arab and as a Muslim. My enemy has succeeded in portraying me as a hardliner fundamentalist at best or as a blood thirsty terrorist at worst. Millions like me have been lumped together as a lurking danger to Western civilization. I was born a Muslim and it’s a great religion of which I am proud. It suits me very well. What many outsiders hear and read about Islam might not be true after all. Even if a group of devoted Muslims insist that the rigidity, the strictness and the absolute commitment to tradition is what Islam is all about and that a true follower has to take it or leave it, I simply disagree with them. I am as much a Muslim as they are. I daresay that I consider myself a part of the silent majority rather than the “moral” majority of Islam.
Although the previous section was written in English it was a joint venture between the two key languages occupying my psyche. As a matter of fact, I am seeking a larger audience. The majority of Arab internet users have a passing knowledge in English. They constitute a potential readership. A large proportion of the world population on the internet has to handle English more than its own native language. They too are potential readers. I usually think in the language I’m writing or speaking with. I am fortunate to have reached this stage in English. Although I humbly claim that I know one or two more languages, I have not and will probably never be able to think in them while putting them to any good use.
Despite the labyrinth being further complicated by the juxtaposition of two languages in my brain, there is only one me in the end. I am the one writing. I am an honest man and I have never used my finger to secrete myself behind. I’ve always put it to better use, around a pen or on the keyboard.