The beginning of the world
Where the bright light existed, there was freedom.
I can trace back my first understanding of freedom to the moments I spent running in the South of Lebanon as a child. In those moments, the wind would softly carry me and everything around me would twirl — our dresses, the flowers, our hats, the branches of the trees and the leaves, my curls and mama’s voice echoing in the back, telling us to be careful. When we would run, everything would dance together to a lullaby the sun and the trees would play.
Back then, the family's house seemed like a giant castle with many entrance doors to those who knew where to climb… and we knew exactly where to climb. When I’d hear the sound of baba’s car, I’d climb from the backyard, run through the house corridors that seemed more like a tunnel for the lack of light shining in them, through the front door, and I’d stop outside, at the top of the stairs that lead to the front garden. I would only stop because the light would, very suddenly, feel brighter than usual.. then at that moment, a white beam would very unexpectedly take over my eyes.
As a child, that phenomenon — the white light taking over my eyesight — stunned me.
So, I’d try again. I’d run again, from the backyard, through the dark corridors, and stop right at the top of the stairs and it would all happen again.
Then I discovered that it also worked when I’d be in the garden, looking at the sun through the leaves of our trees when baba would pick up the apples. Coming from Iqleem Al Tuffah — translated to, the region of apples — I grew up around apple trees. The wind would be caressing both baba and the leaves, and I’d stare and stare until the sunlight would touch my eyes and the white beam would take over my sight, again. The blinding white light at the end of the tunnel was the culmination point of all the running we did. Thus, the white light became intrinsically linked to the feeling of freedom that’d take over me whenever I ran. Where the bright light existed, there was freedom. The white light was freedom. However, the white beam only worked in my South and never in Beirut, thus, I was convinced — and still am — that the sun did not feel the same everywhere. Just like that, the sadness that’d take over me whenever we had to go back to Beirut made the most sense — for there was only freedom in my South, and being away from my South made me feel stifled.
That is where the world began for me — in my South, where I was absolutely & unconditionally free to twirl, run and climb. I wonder, what misfortune distorted us — when we were born to live free — that some have lost the memory of freedom and the desire to regain it?
Later on, I learned that the world wasn’t always free in my South. Worse, my homeland in the South hadn't always been free. Perhaps my most bewitching discovery was that our freedom was born in tunnels — different from our family house’s corridors — actual tunnels, under the mountains I had spent my entire childhood loving. I discovered that in my South, freedom was born through the trees that camouflaged the Southerners as they strived for our collective liberation. Gradually, my love for my South, for my trees, for running in the village made absolute and perfect sense. Of course, I love my trees that much. How could I not love them so when they had protected the Southerners in their quest for this freedom?
This is one of the many ways the resistance is imperishable. The impossibility of putting up with the impossibility of life — that is, oppression — is everlasting. Because freedom is the one thing that people will always have the strength to desire because we are naturally inclined to love — especially to love our land — because we are naturally inclined to feel like the foundations of our humanity shudder at the thought of not destroying a reality that suffocates us. That is perhaps why we, who have known little of the occupation, remain attached to our resistance. Because our resistance is the promise of freedom, not only the freedom of the South but the freedom of every bit of our homeland, which starts and ends with Palestine. Our Resistance is the promise that there is no power on this earth that is irresistible, especially a power which emanates from the subjugation of humans.
Our resistance is the promise of what love can do. Love of the land, love of life, can move mountains. It can create artillery out of rocks and make the world crumble under every occupier that seeks to keep us from loving our land. Our resistance is the promise that just like the occupation of our South came to an end, it will come to an end everywhere it still remains — because occupation does not persevere, it cannot persevere. The resistance will always exist as long as the occupation exists, reminding the occupier it will never be safe within our lands.
On May 25, 2000, the resistance liberated the South of Lebanon from "Israel's" claws... and so life began.
This day shall forever serve as a compass for the ones who are lost and a reminder for the ones who are doubtful. When the occupation seeped through our land, when it aimed to make us unquestionably obedient, our forefathers, with their bare hands, lifted that enormous weight, as Foucault put it, the weight of the whole world order.
This day shall serve as a reminder that on the path to liberation, only liberation is sacred. So if we must fall on the path, then so be it. If some think that we prefer death over life, then they should not talk of life to begin with, because conditional life and the illusion of freedom are only the desire of the denatured human — the human who voluntarily renounces freedom and aspires to servitude.
This day shall serve as a reminder to us — those who were born out of the womb of the resistance and who enjoyed the lullaby of freedom of Jabal ‘Amel — shall not forget the sacrifices of all the resistance fighters.
That is how, on May 25, in the South of Lebanon, the world began to rebirth. May liberation always find its way to your hearts, and may our South forever shower us with its love.