We grow and change. Only the dead-inside and morons don't modify their paths on a journey we had never chosen to take. I am amazed by how much I've altered my perception of my environment and myself since I started sharing my trivial and significant thoughts through writing on an open blog. The last three years have been more pivotal, from an intellectual point of view, than the concerted outcome of almost three decades of adulthood. I have come to terms with the sentient being within and finally accepted matters and issues I struggled to resolve for the greatest part of my past. I was shy, timid and scared to release myself from the claws of indoctrinated teachings, imprinted mores and unchallenged truths. My liberation at last has been my most memorable and satisfying achievement.
In February of this year I came to the realization that I've been consuming my life for the wrong reasons. Consuming, not living, since that's what I think I've been doing for the most part. You know how it is when people decide to stop or start doing something on the occasion of their birthday or the new year. Well, I'm not that kind of man. I never made any resolution and accordingly the positive changes that have permeated my existence since were not planned at all. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I could do better with my body. I'm eating healthier and putting my muscles to use in a manner that is enjoyable to me. For four months I would start my morning by a forty minute bicycle ride by the sea. My meaningful immersion in music died in the 1980's and I changed that too. I plugged my iPhone and reintroduced myself to old and new tunes. My morning ride became my favorite part of the day. With the advent of July, however, riding a bicycle in Tartous becomes more of an ordeal and less of a pleasure. I'm very uncomfortable in the heat but the positive effects of daily exercise were too apparent to ignore. I put the treadmill that has been laying there like a piece of furniture to good use too. I have to admit that I don't enjoy exercising indoors per say but I've found a way to cheat my brain into accepting this temporary inconvenience. Every day I follow an episode of my all-time favorite TV Series M*A*S*H* on DVD while sweating my butt off. I'm sleeping much better. I'm drinking my beer when I feel like it and enjoying it a whole lot more. I'm looking good (well that's a debatable point) and I've lost 11 kg in the process. I was a chubby 88 kg on my birthday at the end of February and I'm an attractive 77 kg now (again that point is open to contention). In a way I'm a late bloomer. I've just come of age, thirty years too late perhaps, but at least I've shed my inherited shell. I am free.
There's always a downfall though, a catch of a sort. Taking off the ragged robes of social conformity and mental subservience will eventually bring a confrontation with others. By and large I've always been the type who avoids direct hostilities with those I disagree with. But at the same time I can't go along anymore with certain “established” practices. It hurts to keep quiet when bigots and fanatics preach and gesticulate. Whether I want to or not, I'm being drawn into retaliation at least in the form of the written word. Almudawen (Syrian Blogs Community) has just announced the First Annual Competition of Almudawen for the Best Syrian Blogs. This is a commendable effort on their part if it's indeed intended to honor outstanding Syrian blogs, encourage and support a blogging culture and expose the role of blogs in the making and shaping of a civil society in Syria. However, if you read the 5th and last condition for blogs to be accepted in the competition, this is what you'll find (translated word by word): the contents of which [the submitted blog] must not dissent from the accepted mores and morals (i.e. sex through videos or photos, hostility to religions, cussing, swearing and bad taste). Do I take it that it is acceptable for a blog to attack trans-dressers but not Sheikhs and priests? Or, for the sake of argument, is a photo of a random cloud in the sky in the shape of an eye and a comment underneath that this is the eye of God acceptable but not another photo of a woman's perfect behind with the apt remark that this butt is an elegant example of the splendor of creation (if we're so inclined to believe)? I know and very much like two out of the five honorable judges and I'm surprised that they have accepted this sanctimonious condition. In fact I'm certain that they did not. Who in the hell then decided that bloggers/people who are interested in sex, hostile to religion and use the word FUCK casually cannot contribute to the making and shaping of a civil society in Syria? What kind of change are we to expect from an infant blogging movement already enslaved by bigotry and intolerance?
I hope it doesn't take this younger generation as long as it took mine to realize that religious tyranny is as bad, if not worse than political dictatorship. Civil society, my ass.
Immediately after I published this post yesterday, Yazan commented then deleted his own comment. He had no prior knowledge about the 5th and final condition of the competition, he wrote to me privately. However, he wanted to resolve the matter with the guys at Almudawen. He wrote earlier today and informed met that Almudawen has removed this shameful clause and came to their senses (under pressure from Yazan no doubt). I'm glad to hear that he will post about the whole matter on his blog later today as well.
Thank you abu fares for bringing up the issue in such a gracious way, as always!
I've posted, something of a clarification, and a response, here: