Thursday, April 6, 2017

Damascus - Syria

October 1989 I travelled to Syria.  I was stoping in Damascus to visit the shrine of a female warrior.  My mother, like many men and women from my ancestral background admired this woman, who would be declared a saint by any benchmark.  

I needed solace and I needed strength.  I was trying to make sense of a personal tragedy.  More I was trying to find answers.  My dear brother, who meant the world to me, was a co-pilot on a flight that went missing  through the Himalayan range.  A story in itself.  

Brings me back to my few days in Damascus.  The encounter with the woman in the shrine who asked me to read aloud some prayers for the group to listen, she would not take no when I shook my head.  Then her frown and hastily taking the prayer book away as she realized that I was not a native Arabic speaker.  Even though I can read the script I don't understand it and my pronunciation is offensive to the ears of those who know the language.  

I was alone, and I was with friends who helped me.  I walked the streets of Damascus.  I saw fashion  to equal those of any big name designer, and I saw simplicity.  

I experienced hospitality, from the heart of the Syrians who could not be satisfied by feeding me small food servings.  The many course meals, the variety, the laid back attitude, and their warmth all touched my heart.  One day as we walked through the bazaar with mounds of pistachios in the stalls we chatted with the owner.  Who kept saying "eat, eat the pistachios".  My brain did a calculation and using the price of pistachios in Canada- I probably ate $20 worth.  

Did I feel as a Canadian a hospitality was returned when the Syrians were welcomed here.  It seemed the right thing to do. 

The pain of the violence against those same people or people of that country creates a deep sadness in me.  

Violence = Pain 
This equation needs to change, the two variables which might encounter in the course of a human life have become a constant in that country.  

If we didn't have history, and memorials, and a desire to remember the victims of violence then how insensitive we will be to the emotional pain bodies.   Now I wonder is that it? 
My solemn promise to life is to go beyond the sensitivity.  To take the intensity of that pain and make a promise to myself that I will not partake in creating violence.  In thoughts, in action, in words. 

If my soul gets asked "will you return to another body?", my answer will be "hold on, may I please wait till the humans have learned how to recognize and resolve their inner conflicts".
Maybe I will be granted that wish. 

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