As I made the decision to start a new chapter of my life abroad at Cornell, the idea of leaving home terrified me. It was impossible for me to imagine that life had a meaning anywhere else. Beirut’s serenity was constantly feeding my spirit with peace, satisfaction and joy.
“We can explain a lot of disasters as natural or random: A forest fire destroying a few homes, an economic recession with a devalued currency, even a global pandemic straining your healthcare system…But 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical bomb, parked at the port of the Lebanese capital for 6 years? Now how can we overlook that?” – Christopher Raffoul, a 22-year-old Beirut resident. In the blink of an eye: Buildings collapsed, cars were thrown into the air and a giant mushroom cloud rose above downtown Beirut, Lebanon. Hospitals were damaged and so overwhelmed by casualties that the wounded were being treated in veterinary clinics, pharmacies and parking lots. Due to this explosion on Tuesday, 330,000 are homeless, 5,000 are wounded and hundreds are likely dead.
“To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose ‘sense of the universal equality of things’ has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of production”
— Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
“I just wanted … something that everybody could understand easily, and everybody could share regardless of where they’re from”
— Jean Jullien on his drawing “Peace for Paris.”
I swore that I would not write about the November 13 and 14 terror attacks in Paris. I write from 3,665 miles away and amidst a deluge of photographs, videos, opinion pieces and articles. I swore that I would not write because of the difficulty of feeling that I knew anything beyond lists of facts and statistics: how many people were murdered, how many more injured, where the attacks occurred, which nations closed their borders, which states decided to stop accepting refugees. In the place of resolute, dispassionate knowledge, I saw emotional knowledge. In a Le Petit Journal video, Angel Le poignantly discussed the attacks with his toddler son Brandon.
In light of the terror, tragedy, and immense violence of this past weekend, I’d like to spend my column discussing the ways in which music can offer comfort during tumultuous times. On Tuesday, NPR’s All Songs Considered released a playlist entitled “Music for Healing.” The playlist is a collection of works intended to be a meditation of sorts on humanity and the global experience of music. It is inclusive in many ways: offering tracks from a variety of parts of the world and deeming varied styles equally, though distinctively, restorative. In response to the attacks on Paris and Beirut, this playlist endeavors to counter xenophobia, encouraging compassion and coexistence rather than retribution. The hosts of All Songs Considered discuss a Twitter hashtag that encouraged people around the world to describe their personal experiences with concerts.
By KATY HABR
Since the devastating siege of Paris on Friday night, the world has turned upside down in shock and mourning. Throughout the ordeal, Lebanon was still reeling. We mourned not only for our French brothers and sisters, but also for ourselves. We mourned for the terrorist attack just the day before that stole the lives of 43 people, and yet was largely ignored by the entire world. While no Snapchat filter or Facebook picture is going to help anyone, be it in Paris or Beirut, the lack of recognition of the attacks in Beirut is telling.