Suicide Bombings in Lebanon: My opinion

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh

Few hours before a suicide bomber blew himself up in a minibus in Southern Beirut yesterday afternoon, I was thinking of Marcus Aurelius famous quote “Do every act of your life as if it were your last” while drawing a ‘local dehumanized human bomb’, as the images of previous blasts were shown on TV. We have been living in a war context since the so-called ‘Lebanese Independence’ of the 1940s, and violence has become our daily bread. Still, suicide bombing is particularly shocking on account of its indiscriminate nature, killing or injuring anyone within range of the explosion, and because of the evident willingness of the bombers to die by their own hands. Furthermore, suicide bombing instills fear because it requires little expertise and few resources beyond a bomb and someone willing to carry it – much more cost-effective than other tactics -, and seems almost impossible for security forces to prevent. In other words, suicide bombing opens a new chapter in the Lebanese war, a ‘bloody grey zone’ chapter where life in itself becomes dangerous, because it carries the possibility of an ‘anytime/ anyplace horrific death with no place to hide’.

If we were living in a country where the State is not dismembered nor corrupted and where unity in diversity is the motto of its people, effective measures would have been taken to prevent such a chapter, ranging from aggressive law enforcement and counterterrorist missions against cells, organizations and leaders, to tackling issues of political instability, social injustice, sectarianism, lack of freedom, poverty and economic crisis. But how can anyone stop an ideologically-driven self-destructing human being who has already forsaken everything for his or her cause while attempting to escape personal crises in a psychologically/physically war-torn country where at least two-third of its population is mentally sick due to decades of piling up traumas and wounded memories? How can anyone stop believers in an afterlife of delights when they live in an unjust and chaotic environment?

Jokes about al-houriyyat and sexual pleasures in paradise, filling Lebanese Facebook pages and other social media platforms, will not stop this madness, nor adopting the ostrich strategy (ps: The Ostrich Strategy is named after the myth that an ostrich, when in danger, will bury its head in the sand. For purposes of this post, I am using the ostrich myth as the basis for what has become a popular, though most ineffective, strategy in business, government, and academia for avoiding difficult challenges. But in fact, ostriches run away as fast as possible when confronted with danger). Along with hyper-mediatization of suicide bombing, its banalization (by becoming ‘accustomed to’) and/or denial of its existence contribute to fueling its causes, effects and longevity.

As long as most Lebanese do not see suicide bombing as the product of multiple factors; as long as they are not willing to face the chaos they are living in by first recognizing their responsibility in its existence (8 and 14 of March, and independent included) along with the foreign (regional/international) powers’, and second trying to find a common ground to build a pluralistic system; as long as the relations between religions and politics are ill-managed; as long as Lebanese do not have a national memory-history-identity to transmit to the younger generations; as long as human beings are used by others as “living tools” – referring to Aristotle thought of human slaves -, exploited at all levels; as long many members of our society feel threatened thus willing to support desperate measures; as long as self-sacrifice is manipulated and twisted forms of martyrdom are embraced; as long as Lebanese do not create a Culture of Healing and a new path towards peace (the impacts of trauma are difficult to heal, but if ignored, traumatic events will consistently be repeated. The insidious characteristics of trauma symptoms are hooked into the original cycle in such a way that they are also self-perpetuating). … Jihadis will continue to use suicide bombing for its tactical benefits regardless of whether or not it helps them politically, Lebanese will be forced to continue the cycle of trauma and the new generations will mature with much greater familiarity and ‘comfort’ with the ways of violence than those of harmony, cooperation and conviviality… War will prevail!

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