Tag Archives: peace

More Human

I am usually overly excited around this time of the year. Thanksgiving Turkey dinners, UAE National Day celebrations, Christmas in Beirut, Wham! on repeat, Micheal Buble overdose, a new year with Mr. Love, December is a mashup of all my favorite things combined, except this year, I am fearing it.

Stereotyping, hatred and atrocity have plagued our lives and our world this year. Hence, as excited as I intend to be this December, a part of me fears what is to happen to the world amidst all the Holiday cheers.

We owe our world more tolerance, more empathy, more compassion, more solidarity.

We owe our world more love. Please start today #WhatMakesUsHuman


A radical notion

I think all of me just fell a little more in love with all of John Legend.

Turns out he not only sings love, he commits to love.

His Commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania few days ago was phenomenal – Highlights below.

“The reason I’m here, the reason I’ve had such a wonderful journey so far, is that I’ve found love. Yes, love. We were all made to love. And I’ve found that we live our best lives, we are at our most successful, not simply because we’re smarter than everyone else, or because we hustle harder. Not because we become millionaires more quickly. The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love. Spending your time doing things you love and with people you love.

“And it turns out that love requires that level of commitment from you. Half-doing it is not doing it right. You have to go all in. And yes, your personal relationships require that too.”

“I’ve already talked about the power of love in your work and your personal lives. But I also want to talk about how love changes the world. There are 7 billion other people out there. 7 billion strangers. I want you to consider what it means to love them too. What does it mean to love people we don’t know, to see the value in every single person’s life? Think about that. It’s a pretty radical notion. It means your daughter or son, your neighbor’s daughter or son and the daughters and sons of people who live thousands of miles away, all deserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It means we let go of fear and see each other’s humanity. It means we don’t see Trayvon Martin as a walking stereotype, a weaponized human. We see him as a boy who deserves the chance to grow into a man, even if he makes boyish mistakes along the way. It means American lives don’t count more than Iraqi lives. It means we see a young Palestinian kid not as a future security threat or demographic challenge, but as a future father, mother and lover. It means that the nearly 300 kidnapped girls in Nigeria aren’t just their problem. They’re “our” girls too. It’s actually quite a challenge to love humankind in this way.”

“If you’re committed to loving in public, it requires you opening your eyes to injustice, to see the world through the eyes of another. This is not a passive activity. You have to read. You have to travel to other neighborhoods, other parts of the world. You may have to get your hands dirty. You have to allow people to love you, and you have to love them back.”

John loves love. I too do.


Say a little prayer for me

I am not one to complain, but when twice in one week, different populated areas in your country are brutally bombed and innocent citizens are wrongly killed, you naturally expect stricter security measures to be put in place, at the airport, per say, simply to ensure better protection of loyal, yet terrified, citizens.

A street Graffiti of Ali, as remembered by Bliss street - courtesy of Cocarocha

(street Graffiti of Ali, as remembered by Bliss street –  courtesy of Cocarocha)

I walked into Rafic Hariri International Airport this afternoon, and as the machine gently beeped at me while I was waltzing through checkpoint, nobody raised an eyebrow.

I naively approached the gentleman asking if he would like for me to proceed to security check- and “iza beddik (if you wish)” was his answer – still not raising an eyebrow.

I did wish to indeed, simply because as frustrated (and disappointed) as I was throughout the past couple of weeks, I was still on the premises of my home country, and hence the duty of being a responsible Lebanese citizen was still bestowed upon me.

So I walked myself steadfastly to the lady at security check, and as I attempted to take off my jacket,  she gave me a very serious look, and said without the blink of an eye: “No Madame, I do not want to run a security check on anyone today. Have a safe flight!” (Great, thanks!)

And so a safe flight it shall be, from a clearly safe enough Lebanese airport back to my slightly safer little life in Dubai. Say a little prayer for me!


Jingles of fear

I spent the night in Hamra last night, and had plans to take the jolly holiday jingles up to snowy Faqra with friends this morning. Instead, I woke up to an alarming jingle that instantly confirmed the daily fear of every Lebanese citizen: another atrocious bombing, another dozen of innocent victims, another heart-wrenching live coverage that my eyes have become so painfully accustomed to attend to since 2005. This curse is unbreakable. It is here to stay.

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A moment of silence this morning for all the lost souls, their families and their loved ones.

A moment of silence for every Lebanese’s shattered dream.

A moment of silence for Beirut’s indefinitely broken heart.

“My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards.

You have your Lebanon and I have my Lebanon.” Gibran Khalil Gibran 


Snow Flakes

This is not a blog post. This is a revelation. I’ve been observing my contentment trends for a while, and I’ve realized they’ve somewhat “matured”, probably because this year revolved around grateful living for me, and acknowledging little pleasures that I had long overlooked: visiting with family, watching a genuinely good movie, finding an interesting read, writing on this blog, seeking inspiration in others, dancing till my feet hurt, swinging till my eyes roll, exploring new relationships, building on already existing ones- relatively small things, but with quite a big impact.

(picture courtesy of my mama - Alexa takes on Shtoura)

(photo courtesy of my awesome mama – Alexa in Shtoura)

With all this in mind, I’ve decided to make my one and only new year’s resolution this morning, because December’s clearly all about getting things done, and January resolutions clearly don’t do it for me. Somehow, my mind always gets  tricked into believing the year has just started afresh (automatically granting me at least another 11 months to make things happen)- #error

This December, I’m making things happen. I’m hopping on a bike the minute I land home in Shtoura (for the very first time), and I won’t fall off it.  I’m going to dive freely into my sacred valley of snow flakes, almond trees, and homemade rice pudding, all whilst recapping how life-changing 2013 really was. I rose up a notch this year, set my priorities straight, and formed new habits – of kindness- in a span of 3 weeks only (it’s not a myth), and right now, I am utterly grateful. I’m hopping on a bike and I am owning the world!

TED’s non- cheesy guide to gratefulness here: my favorite is David Steindtl- Rasl!  Stop, Look, and Go!


When Banksy comes to town

When elusive London-based street artist and social activist, Mr.Banksy, landed in New York earlier last month, he apparently made some serious noise.

1) He set up a blog to document his artistic residency on the streets of New York, and actually used a hashtag #banksyny, which was reason enough for his avid followers to use and abuse all social media platforms.

2) The NYPD were kept on their toes, and stayed alert in fear of him secretly communicating “bold” messages to the community as always (yes, well, Surprise!)

3) The New York Times declined to publish the Op-ed column he had written for them, as his dark humor “brutally” offended one the NY’s heritage sites). He still published the article on his blog, casually referring to the World Trade Center as a “Shyscraper” – and then subtly concluding with: New York, we lost our nerve (ah, you’ve got to love him!)

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But all in all, from the looks of it, New York, the city, seems to have fallen under the spell of Banksy’s wit, and Banksy in return, seems to have fallen “shyly” but surely in love with the city where dreams are rumored to come true (one could develop a sense of belonging to both London and New York at the same time according to NY-based photographer Daniella Zalcman) . He not only set up a stall in Central Park where 100% original and signed Banksy canvases were sold for only 60$, he also bid New York farewell with a set of balloons that read “Banksy” right before he fled, to say (in his own words): “Thanks for your patience, it’s been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye”

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I was just browsing through Streetartnews’ most popular murals of October 2013, and Banksy’s New York mural “Waiting in Vain” outside the Hustler Club topped the list. The truth is, he wowed, throughout his entire month’s excursion on the streets of New York. His adventures will soon be showcased in a Camden shop near you Londoners, so make sure you stop by and stock up on Banksy postcards and canvases (the flying balloons girl below, painted on a wall in West Bank – and portraying the desire of freedom, and the yearning to be able to float away, still is my ultimate fav).

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Below are some highlights of his street graffiti work in New York (mostly murals because I am fond of them), and just so we’re clear, I am publicly green with envy. If Banksy is to keep flying out of London, he might as well bring his greatness over to Dubai soon, because you know, New York’s got nothing on you, beautiful City of Life!!

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Graffiti is a crime – Manhattan

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A test of childhood strength

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Stenciled Geishas in Williamsburg

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A robot spray- painting his tag in Coney Island

<> on October 7, 2013 in New York City.

A patched-up heart for the love of smiles…


For the love of land

Mahmoud Darwish has been serenading me to sleep almost every night for the past year or so. I just came across this heartbreakingly beautiful masterpiece he recited as he bid Tunisia goodbye in 1994. He cried, for the love of Tunisia, Palestine, and the Arab world. He cried for the love of land.

When Darwish cries, the whole world cries. No one compares.