Defining our struggles in today’s Middle East

Octavia Nasr

By: Octavia Nasr

The Middle East has been a hotbed for conflicts and wars always attracting the news media; but it has never been faced with so many tragedies at once as it has since the beginning of Arab uprisings and things keep getting busier. Today there are many aggressors spewing their hatred and barbarism on unsuspecting or simply defenseless victims. Many of those offenders are old, others are new and some are the “friends” of yesterday or yesteryear.

If lessons can be learned or re-learned from the latest offenses from Gaza to Mosul from Saraqib to Arsal, from Tehran to Cairo and from the capitals of the Arabian Gulf, or Europe and the U.S., they are as follows:

When you struggle, you do so alone.

When you are down on your luck, you have very few true friends around.

When you are up, most everyone is your friend and is ready to cheer for you.

Conventional wisdom

Conventional wisdom suggests that when you are up, your only way is upward; and when you are down you can only proceed downward. By the same logic, the poor get poorer while the rich get richer. The weak turn weaker and the powerful add more might as time passes and might even become more violent.

All this might be true and unavoidable but what is certain is that we all struggle in a different way and our struggles are a world of difference apart from one person to another.

When you are down on your luck, you have very few true friends around

Octavia Nasr

In today’s Middle East, as causes intertwine and get more complicated by the day, people struggle at multiple levels. With time, struggles converging as people realize that their enemies are one and the same.

Extremism, ignorance and lawlessness make up the common enemy no matter what name or label or geographic tag you give it.

When someone asks, “How can people survive under these dire conditions?” wondering whether it is bravery or heroism that drive them. The reality is that the true struggle is that of the people who have no choice. They find themselves involved in other people’s struggles. They drown in them, they get wounded, they bleed, they carry the scars forever or until they are unable to struggle anymore.

To those silent anonymous peaceful fighters, I bow in appreciation and in sorrow because someone imposed their agenda on you, and the world does not understand that you did not choose it or sign up for it or support it and that you could not care less whether it leads up, down, forward or backward. For you, like me and many others, are busy with other struggles and the world is too loudly hating and too busy judging to even pay attention!

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Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

 
 
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