From Syria with Love: Letter to CODEPINK from a Syrian-Lebanese-Armenian Woman

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

I was deeply touched when I read your e-mail, asking Americans to do their best to avoid another war. I understand you and feel with you. Allow me to share with you the perspective of a Syrian-Lebanese-Armenian woman who grew up in war.

I feel with every single mother whose son is going to go to yet another war, which is not even their war, which they most likely do not relate to. I feel with every single child who will have to say goodbye to their parent, not knowing whether they will see them another time, trying to remember how they smile and somewhat freezing that moment in their minds. War is cruel; war is harsh and unfair; war steals away the most precious moments that we can live peacefully; and of course, war steals people we love; it even steals away parts of ourselves. I know that because unfortunately, I have had first-hand experience with wars. I was born in 1977 when my parents naively thought that the Lebanese civil war was over. Of course, they were mistaken; war had only started. So I grew up in war-torn Beirut (Lebanon) and remember very well the smell of shelters; the smell of fear; the horrendously deafening noise of airplanes, explosions, missiles; and of course, the uncertainly of it all. I can still smell the acidic stench of urine sprinkled generously on shelters walls. People (including my parents) risked their lives every day to get bread and also to go to work (by crossing several “internal” borders in a country divided and fighting itself).

After the Lebanese civil war, we were blessed with a couple years of peace; and Lebanon did blossom. But…instability remained, lurking around like a ghost; hatred and greed gave way to more uncertainty and explosions. In 2006, when Israel intensively bombed Lebanon for over a month, memories of war were no more memories. Live and painful; our apartment would dance at times, shaking and shivering. Yes. Stones. Rocks. Even concrete is scared of war. I remember feeling helpless, scared and at times even numb.

And now… yet another war. Why? Since when does violence solve problems originally caused by violence? Why have we become so agile in waging wars in the name of freedom and democracy, when we know very well that we will cause more harm? Since when have be become so shrewdly keen on convincing other to partake in war with us, so we share the responsibility of a predictable catastrophe and feel less guilty about the whole process. Why can’t we love more and fight less?? I know it may sound silly; but we need to love more, accept more and judge and fight less. These are questions that my friends and I ask every day. I know these are questions that you also ask yourselves every day. I am a Syrian-Lebanese woman who has lived in Lebanon for most of her life; my two countries are bleeding. There are more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon (with its already limited resources).

So I KNOW the horrible aftertaste of war and I KNOW its devastating effects also. I KNOW the fear that still haunts me in nightmares and panic attacks. I KNOW that war does not keep anybody at bay… and it destroys mercilessly. I KNOW that after war, you are never the same person. And mostly, I KNOW that the answer to one war is NOT by creating another one. But…to tell you frankly, I do NOT know that many people here who support war; actually I do NOT know that many people in Syria who support war; and I do NOT know that many people in the US who support war…  In Armenian, which is my mother tongue, war translates as “baderazm”; “bad” means wall. That was my very first encounter of war.

My first encounter with war (or the one I remember) was when I was five. While accidentally listening to the news, my uncle told me that the reason why there were so many dead people was because there was a “baderazm” in Lebanon. He said this, while gently closing my eyes with his hands. At five, I equated war with wall. It is a WALL, a dead-end and a black hole.

I truly admire the work that you are doing. I want to thank you on behalf of all the women and men who voices are lost in war: all the mothers and fathers who want to see their children wearing school uniforms and walking to school on a peaceful October morning, when the Mediterranean sun shines gracefully... I am sure there is another way OUT, other than war. Please spread the word; spread the love.

Thank you,

With Love,

Nayiri B.

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