The boy and The moon

By Tareq Neman

Once upon a time there was a boy, a boy who loved his mother the most. He followed her where ever she went. He dreamt about her. She was everything for him. One day they were walking back home from a family visit, when he ran to catch a fistful of stones. He started to throw the stones to the sky and shouted loudly: “Hey you, go away! I will kill you, I don’t want you there any more, do you understand me??” The mother was shocked of his behavior and said: “My darling, why are you angry? Don’t shout like that, you might wake up the neighbors. Why are you so angry?” ….He said: “He is following you, I will kill him…” The mother looked around herself and across the street; no one was there. She said: “Oh dear little boy, there is no one out there, we are alone in the street.” The boy shouted: “NO, he was following you all the way; from my grandmother’s house till here.” She asked him: “Oh, do you see him now?” The boy answered: “Yes, he is over there” and pointed to the sky. The little boy pointed to the full moon. The moon was the enemy for the little boy, who needed to safe and protect his mother, his every thing… How come he felt that the most romantic and ideal thing became the most dangerous enemy for the boy? He –the boy- had not learned what the moon was. He had not learned that everything has its own laws and nature. The only thing he had learned was how to protect his mother from those who might cause pain to his mother or harm her. That’s why he shouted at the moon, the moon which lightened his way to the house; the moon which balances life on earth; the moon that helps lovers to express their feelings and poets to write down their pains. He didn’t know any of such things. That is why the mother didn’t beat him or shout at him; she knew that he acted according to his fears and his love, that’s why he shouted and fought the moon. Ignorance might lead to childish behavior, whatever the age is. No matter if the frightened one is a man or a woman, old or young, educated or non-educated; when someone doesn’t know what something is he or she will be so wild and tough, especially when it comes to his or her family or den. So he will try to avoid such a thing or replace it, or even explode it in a very embryonic way because he or she doesn’t know how to deal with it, especially when others share the same fears with him or her; they will become angrier and more ignorant and will encourage each other to prevent and push such thing away.

It is not a big deal of the unknown thing is a tree, mountain or even a rare kind of animal or alien. It becomes dangerous when someone doesn’t know the reality of something and this could affect a nation or believe, because when he will stand against this thing he will stand against the whole nation and affect all its sources and dreams. He will shout and throw stones and might break many precious things, while he thinks that he is fixing something and doing the right thing for his future and for those who he loves. So his ignorance pushes him to consider everything as an enemy. He will fight and he might die because of his ignorance. Back to the story … when the mother realized that her boy was worried about her and had no idea about what the moon is, and when she became aware of the love that pushed the boy to throw stones at the moon and shout in the middle of the night she realized the boy needed to learn more. The boy needed to learn about the principles and essentials of life and the things that he might face and wonder about. She said: “I appreciate the love you have for me but we have to acknowledge that life needs more understanding. You need to be patient and ask me before you do such things. It is not good to shout at night, but thank you for shouting, because you taught me to tell you and show you everything; to teach you all the details about life and how to understand others. I love you kid, you are what I have and you need me as I need you. The moon is something that people respect; it is there to help us. He follows us to show us the way and to protect us.” The boy smiled to the moon and put his tiny fingers over his lips, to send the moon a big kiss.

whom should we believe?

It seems that the problem of contradicting statements returned to flourish among the ranks of the new Syrian government, even within the team of the same Ministry. This problem – which had been among the main obstacles facing journalists and investors with all previous governments, has appeared again. Today a hurricane hits the ministry of tourism with the special circumstances overwhelming Syria these days. This hurricane is nothing but a sarcastic contradiction between the statements of the Director of Statistics and Planning in the Ministry of Tourism Kasem Darwish, and the statements of the Tourism Minister Lamia Assi herself.

The Director stated that the hotels occupancy rates reached 40 percent. While the Minister of Tourism, Lamia Assi said in an interview to the Middle East newspaper: “Syria is experiencing a lack of tourists and the occupancy rates for this summer collapsed from 99 percent to 0 percent”. The newspaper quoted managers of major hotels in Damascus; they confirmed the words of the Minister.

Contradicting the media reports, Darwish pointed out that the tourist season has witnessed a remarkable recovery recently as a result of offers by the tourism activities and Syrian Airlines, which contributed to the recovery of the whole movement of internal tourism.

What is the reason behind this discrepancy? Is it possible that the newspaper has rigged the words of the Minister, could it be due to the lack of coordination between the Minister and the Directors? Or did the Director, -which brought us back to the universal figures of the former Minister- improvise his words without consulting the new Minister?
In all cases, this contradiction reflects the confusion which the ministry is living now.
The Minister of Tourism said during the interview: “Tourism sector is the most affected sector by the events that are taking place in Syria, it received a strong and direct hit.”  She added that “Tourism has decreased by 26 percent during the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year, the sixth month and this month have witnessed a noticeable decline in tourism movement by over 60 percent, decline came mainly from Europe and America and the Arab Gulf countries .”

The moon, the sun, and something else…

 Tareq Neman

It is not rare to see someone talking to himself or talking to an imaginary man or person. Once we see someone walking around while talking to himself, we simply judge him as a crazy person or a psycho, without asking him why he is talking or what he is talking about. Many psychologists have said that when someone is talking to himself it is a good sign; that this man is healthy and he has many channels to communicate with his needs and interests. But as we are in Syria, we notice that all those who are talking to themselves are wearing dirty clothes and appearing in a very strange way, so we call them psychos, even if they are talking about ‘the feasibility of the global unity of the economic markets’. And even if we confessed that he is speaking about rightful and the most beautiful ideas, we would keep calling and considering him or her as crazy or a psycho, because we are used to see those people who are talking about such things wearing clean and formal suits, even if we know that they will talk and act in a way that will not help to solve any problem. If we had the courage to compare what they say with what the psycho says, we would have to admit that the psycho is right and presents the right solution, while they (the ‘suit people’) are moving around the problem without solving it. If you noticed; I said “if we had the courage”, but we don’t…!!! Why? Because we refuse the truth if it comes from someone we don’t respect or we misjudge. We as Syrians follow the principle “you are what your mate is”, so if we meet someone who we don’t consider as modern or respectable, we will not listen to him or her and we will do some secret gesture among us with a smart smile to show that we are listening to him or her just to have fun, even if he is talking about the construction of the atomic bomb. I know very well that you, my precious reader, have had at least one experience with such a ‘psycho’ and he managed to convince you with what he said, but you refused his words because he acts in a way and wears something that you don’t like or the society refuses. I used to work at a women’s accessories shop. The accessories were too expensive and the customers we had were from a very high class and too rich. One day, a woman stopped in front of the shop and started to look at the accessories. She was wearing shabby clothes and her hair looked like a bird’s nest. I walked out the shop to ask her to leave, because she would prevent the high-class women from stopping in front of the shop. At the moment I tried to talk to her the shop owner grabbed my hand and pulled me back. He asked: “What are you doing?” and I answered: “I am about to kick her out.” He asked me: “why?” and I said: “She is crazy; can’t you see what she looks like? No one will get close to the shop until she leaves.” Then the owner said: “Ah! This woman is the richest customer we have ever had! She spends her time traveling from country to country and she is married to a very famous and rich man, but she likes to appear this way because she hates it when people glance at her and whisper about her as a rich woman.” The woman entered the shop and bought more that 12 accessories which we consider as too expensive and I imagined myself telling her to leave; it would be a very big loss and the owner would kick me out of the shop and expel me forever. So I conclude that what we see is not what we should base our judgment on; people are not predictable as the sun and the moon. We should learn how to understand them as they are; not according to the prejudices that we have about the standards of good and bad people.

 

We can say it is day when we see the sun in the sky and say it is night when we see the moon, but we can’t say this man is crazy because he is doing something we don’t know about, or because he acts in a way we consider unacceptable. Someone said: “A crazy person is a balanced person but he lives in another world.” He expresses his thoughts to everyone, but what about us? We hold our feelings back; we jail them and control them and even if we discover that we talked to our self once, we will conclude that we need a psychologist and start to take medicine, while the one we judge as crazy or a psycho feels free and lives his or her life freely and happily. Someone said: “Everything is true when it is true to me.” This man also said: “Accept the sun and the moon because I believe these are true.” The thing that we should add to the quote is ‘neutrality’. Neutrality is the only truth that we should adopt as the third fact after the moon and the sun, because the sun expresses the light while moon express the dark and there is nothing else but light and dark, so we only have two choices. So, we should either be in the light or in the dark, although life has many things in between. You can’t discover all these things until you become neutral. Therefore, the third fact should be neutrality. Then and only then you will have the ability to see everything without being crazy, a psycho, or lost between them.

Village on mars

By Tareq Neman

            Once upon the time, there was a village in a very wonderful and quiet valley. Its people were so simple and with very worm feelings. Each family had over 15 members, who were all farmers and used to wake up before the sunrise. They loved to smell the pure breath of the sun and to see the first rays of it, invading the darkness of the sky while they were working on their farms. Most or, let me say, all of them didn’t know anything about technology and even didn’t know how to read books. They were sharing and exchanging products of their farms and that was their only knowledge about trading and market.

 Their bodies were tough and their faces were like records of their long journey through life. They hold shovels, axes, and the pickaxe, holding in the same hand their infants and sick animals. They didn’t like to fight or to have misunderstandings with each other. All their fights were easy to solve and no one had the right to expand them or to add oil to the fire. The wisdom that could be seen in their gestures and moves was showing their humaneness and hospitality.

The people of this village used to gather every Thursday night to celebrate, chat, deal, or to discuss the problems of the village. They used to gather at the spring of the village, from which they were taking water to drink, cook and wash. They used to bring their food… oh, by the way, all the women there used to spent all their time cooking for those special nights. The very important thing about those nights was that always one family, every night a different one, wasn’t there, at the spring. This family had to stay at the village and wait until the dark falls and then members of that family were entering the houses in the village, taking whatever they wanted from that houses to use it for a week. When the week finished, this family would go with others to the spring, while another family would play the same role. Everybody knew what was going on and everybody was silent. No one bothered himself to accuse anyone for taking his stuff, because they knew that they could get it back one day. They were stealing everything from each other and there was tacit agreement between them to do this thing. Everybody was happy with that…

One day a visitor passed through the village at Thursday night and he noticed that someone was moving from house to house taking the stuff and no one was around, so he stopped him and said:
“ Don’t you know that steeling is a big sin?”. The villager said:”Sorry, but what do you mean by sin?” The traveler beat him up and took him to the place where he saw the fire. There they met the people from the village and the traveler told them what he saw. They said: ”Ok, we know that. We do that every Thursday to gather and enjoy”.  The traveler said:”Oh no! This is sin! Everybody should have his own properties and should enjoy it all the time. Every house should be a private one and you should respect the efforts of others, who spent money to buy stuff. Everybody should work harder and buy his own things!” The villagers liked what he said, so they asked him to coordinate the operation of making them satisfied and to help them to achieve the point in which everybody will have everything, so they will not steal from each other again. The traveler said: “First we should have a council center… So we should elect its members and a head. At the beginning he will control the first steps to reform the final image of the authority”. There were a lot of new words that the villagers had heard for the first time, so they believed they will better, especially that this man was so respectable, so clean and well-dressed.

After a year those people canceled the Thursday night gatherings and bought a lot of locks for their doors. They also started to put fences around their fields and farms. Psychological clinics started to spread all-over the village. The people had a lot of money but they spent their time thinking about how to protect it. Other villagers started to immigrate to the village and many strangers started to live there. Many kidnappings of children and young girls were taking place, so the villagers started to buy guns and weapons to protect their properties from each other and from the strangers. When the weapons spread, there was a great danger of fights among people, so the traveler arranged a meeting with the council and suggested to get some help from another, better developed villages. He needed their help to rule and disarm the villagers, bringing military troops to the village.

After a year and a half members of the same family started to lock their rooms from each other and forbid each other to use the same clothes. After one year and 8 months the first crime took place: a man killed his brother for a kilogram of tomato… The traveler hung the killer and took the two bodies to sell their organs to some hospitals in other countries. He also punished the seller of the tomato and seized the tomatoes as a cause of crime and jailed it in his stomach.  The village turned into a large voluntary prison, where everybody was afraid of everybody. Then the wise man of the village appeared and said: ”People of the village, we used to live in peace and calmness and we were safe, having comfortable life without such laws. We know that we were wrong according to the principles of the whole world… But we were so happy back then no one had been killed before the new laws were implemented. No one had stolen anything what he didn’t need before this traveler came. We we want our life back! We were not stealing from each other, as the traveler said. We were cooperating! We were helping each other! We were borrowing from each other! Back then we were living self-sufficiently, now we need others to help us to save our children and our lives. We want our old life back even if it was a sin! “

This story and many others talking about a traveler or a wolf, like in ‘Red Riding Hood’ or the witch in ‘Snow White’, are all the same. They are all talking about how the stranger could manipulate others to achieve his bad goals.  I and other 23 millions of citizens, are asking those traveler to get out of Syria and to let us live the way we used to live, because we do care about our blood and we have many things to present to the future.

The Road Map to Fill the Gap

By Tareq Neman

Walking on the streets of old Damascus is an adventure. It is like using the time machine and travelling to another period of time, another period of history, any kind of history. It helps us to relax and train our imagination, picturing the old life of the Damascenes and trying to imagine it in reality. Just the point is that we were not there, so how should we imagine their shapes, their custom, their way of walking, their expressions, the way they were acting or fighting, hugging each other or pushing each other. According to the Psychology and Physiology, our brain uses collective memory to recognize things that we see and the selective memory to recognize things we haven’t seen before. The brain matches and creates correspondence between what we have in the selective and collective memories, giving us the image that we are asking for. Therefore, our visual history depends on what we have seen, collected, learned. Our visual history is something what we make. Back to the street of old Damascus; 99% of the new generation will imagine the people of old Damascus in a loose, black pants (sherwal), wearing a scarf or a small hat and jacket without sleeves, with big and well-combed mustaches. We will imagine them walking and making some special noise, while moving their feet on the ground and saluting everybody around them. This image is not something originated from our DNA or a thing that we are born with. It has been planted in our imagination by unlimited scenes from TV series that we got used to, and we remember it each time when we picture an old Damascene. And now let’s say that we are in one of the Gulf countries… Or let us not go that far. If I want you to imagine a man from one of the Gulf countries, our brains will probably evoke the image of white-dressed man with red or white scarf (keffiyeh) and a headband, sitting in a desert or among a number of people wearing the same thing. Sometimes we will imagine them riding horses, sometimes shepherding the sheep. But is that the real picture of them now? Another picture we evoke, when we remember or try to imagine an American, will be one of the three main characters: the ‘super hero’ soldier, the business man, and the adventurer. None of those characters is a loser or ignorant. While when we want to imagine a Russian guy, we will rather see a gangster, a well-dressed man, whose major feature is that he is a member of mafia or invincible dual spy. All those images were planted in our heads. Most of us have never been to Russia, America or even to the Gulf countries. But we watch TV and movies, which are the main source of our collective and selective memories. Therefore, the question is what the others may think about Syrian people? The picture of the Syrian man that others could have, using the data that we, Syrians, give to the others, will be an answer to the question why others think that we are easygoing people.

 All what we are giving to the others is the information about the traditional, close-minded, historical men; people with all kind of criminal minds; radicals; very social women; hopeless lovers; men that cheat women and girls; if we want to show that we are successful, we will show some business men. Is it the right image of us? If it is not, why do we use it? But if it’s real, so why should we present it to others? Why should we show our dirt to the nations that are spending billions to hide their faults and weak points? Someone said: “lie, and keep lying until they believe you”. So what do we want others to think about us? Do we want them to see that we are nothing but history and that our society is full of contradictions? Syrian people belong to the most reasonable and successful people in the world, but those who are supposed to plant the idea about us in the minds of the others (the actors, directors and scriptwriters), seem to be working without purpose to change our picture. I think that we are making an unbelievable mistake by not lying, because it is illusion that makes everything real. Believe your dreams, so they it will become true. Dreams come from the same source of imagines, which is the collective and selective memory.

Let us dream, let us imagine the best for us! Let us impose our dreams on the others! We deserve to lead the nations and we have the abilities and the tools needed to do that; we have the historical background, the power of the present and the hope for the future. We have the ability to lead those who are grazing sheep and the ability to control those who are ruling the world.

We have to invade their minds. So lie! Lie till they believe you and then they will follow you.

The boy and The Moon

Tareq Neman

Once upon a time there was a boy, a boy who loved his mother the most. He followed her where ever she went. He dreamt about her. She was everything for him. One day they were walking back home from a family visit, when he ran to catch a fistful of stones. He started to throw the stones to the sky and shouted loudly: “Hey you, go away! I will kill you, I don’t want you there any more, do you understand me??” The mother was shocked of his behavior and said: “My darling, why are you angry? Don’t shout like that, you might wake up the neighbors. Why are you so angry?” ….He said: “He is following you, I will kill him…” The mother looked around herself and across the street; no one was there. She said: “Oh dear little boy, there is no one out there, we are alone in the street.” The boy shouted: “NO, he was following you all the way; from my grandmother’s house till here.” She asked him: “Oh, do you see him now?” The boy answered: “Yes, he is over there” and pointed to the sky. The little boy pointed to the full moon. The moon was the enemy for the little boy, who needed to safe and protect his mother, his every thing… How come he felt that the most romantic and ideal thing became the most dangerous enemy for the boy? He –the boy- had not learned what the moon was. He had not learned that everything has its own laws and nature. The only thing he had learned was how to protect his mother from those who might cause pain to his mother or harm her. That’s why he shouted at the moon, the moon which lightened his way to the house; the moon which balances life on earth; the moon that helps lovers to express their feelings and poets to write down their pains. He didn’t know any of such things. That is why the mother didn’t beat him or shout at him; she knew that he acted according to his fears and his love, that’s why he shouted and fought the moon. Ignorance might lead to childish behavior, whatever the age is. No matter if the frightened one is a man or a woman, old or young, educated or non-educated; when someone doesn’t know what something is he or she will be so wild and tough, especially when it comes to his or her family or den. So he will try to avoid such a thing or replace it, or even explode it in a very embryonic way because he or she doesn’t know how to deal with it, especially when others share the same fears with him or her; they will become angrier and more ignorant and will encourage each other to prevent and push such thing away. It is not a big deal of the unknown thing is a tree, mountain or even a rare kind of animal or alien. It becomes dangerous when someone doesn’t know the reality of something and this could affect a nation or believe, because when he will stand against this thing he will stand against the whole nation and affect all its sources and dreams. He will shout and throw stones and might break many precious things, while he thinks that he is fixing something and doing the right thing for his future and for those who he loves. So his ignorance pushes him to consider everything as an enemy. He will fight and he might die because of his ignorance. Back to the story … when the mother realized that her boy was worried about her and had no idea about what the moon is, and when she became aware of the love that pushed the boy to throw stones at the moon and shout in the middle of the night she realized the boy needed to learn more. The boy needed to learn about the principles and essentials of life and the things that he might face and wonder about. She said: “I appreciate the love you have for me but we have to acknowledge that life needs more understanding. You need to be patient and ask me before you do such things. It is not good to shout at night, but thank you for shouting, because you taught me to tell you and show you everything; to teach you all the details about life and how to understand others. I love you kid, you are what I have and you need me as I need you. The moon is something that people respect; it is there to help us. He follows us to show us the way and to protect us.” The boy smiled to the moon and put his tiny fingers over his lips, to send the moon a big kiss.

American culture and the mother of all conspiracies

By Tareq Neman

Baladna English 5-May-2011

As we learned from American movies, everything is related in one way or another when it comes to the intellectual agencies and hidden tactics of the FBI or CIA, and as I respect this culture and am a slave of what they call ‘the American dream’, I have found myself enforced to believe in the conspiracy theory and the great benefits of thinking about how Americans have managed to control and rule the world. I used to understand the signals and signs that scenarist and the directors of American movies use in their movies, for example; when they show the number of a room in a hotel so the detectives in the same movie will consider it as a secret code among the gangster members and they – the detectives- will analyze it and discover the place or the hidden meaning behind such a number.

 Or, when they talk about someone –a character in some movie- who used to use the same perfume that his victim used to use 10 years before he murdered him and the killer had smelled this fragrance when he was young because the father of the victim killed the father of the current murderer. So, I can understand that there are many relations -whatever they are, secret or public- in everything the Americans do. Due to this unprecedented mode of development we believe that nothing could happen in the world that the Americans don’t know about. They teach us about how sophisticated they are, how much they know about the relations between things and how great their abilities are to control the politics of the world. And I believe in that too. As such, the Americans concluded that the two pilots of the Egyptian plane who drowned in the sea are criminals because one of them said: “Etakalto Ala Allah” (Trust in God). The pilots trusted in God in that he would reward them because they caused the sinking of the airplane. Of course, this is what the Americans based their conclusion on, so they condemned the pilots. Is it the logic and smartness of the unlimited intelligence? Or should we say the unlimited exclusive American intelligence? I believe in the American way of everything. Due to this believe I became a fan, and more; I became let me say a mimic of all their acts and ways of thinking. So, I become very suspicious, even about things that are related to them. I analyze, I look behind reactions, I read between the lines and I can decode their codes sometimes; when they say ‘we are happy’, they mean they are not and when they say ‘we hope that some countries treat their people as well as they can’, they mean ‘we will teach them how’. Starting from what I am now because of the American culture, I just want to ask them the question that they might ask if they were in my shoes: why hasn’t the respected President Barack Obama mentioned the name Osama Ben Laden more than three times in the past three years, as he is the first enemy of the United States? Haven’t you noticed that the only difference between the letters of the President’s name Obama and Osama is one letter; the ‘s’?

Let us consider that this case appeared in an American movie; is your intelligent detective ready to ignore it? OK, let us consider it is a coincidence; what about the similarities between the President and the murdered man Osama? OK, let us forget that too. Is it a coincidence too that the birth certificate of President Obama had been published just two days before the killing of Osama? What a great joke. But I think America should laugh because of the victory of killing Osama and the birth of Obama …… so long live Osama…ohh…I mean Obama.