Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Syrian Exception or, the Fly People!

Syrians have long believed that we are an exception to the regional rule. Stupid leaders, for instance, exist in Iraq and Somalia, but not in Syria. Oh no, "truth" be said, and certain mulish and other sordid qualities aside, our leaders tend to be smart, quite smart. So smart, in fact, they often outsmart themselves.

As for civil wars, well, they happen in places like Lebanon and the Sudan, but not in Syria. Oh no no no. Our sectarianism, tribalism, Islamism, ethnic divides and other sources of civil disorder exist only in the eye of the beholder. But as long as we choose to remain blind and stick our heads in the sand, we cannot be aware of these things and, as such, they cannot hurt us.

Indeed, this is what being smart is all about: it is all about knowing when to acknowledge the existence of certain facts and problems, and when to ignore them. Moreover, and here is the awaited catch, inherited wisdom informs us that certain facts and problems should always be ignored. Always.

For this, and while shit happens throughout the region, it always happens elsewhere. We are just too smart, and too good, or at least our leaders are, to let it happen to us. No, we are not in the habit of letting ourselves drown in shit, albeit we are willing to admit that we are surrounded by it, and that we, occasionally, tend to eat and regurgitate it, and in rather prodigious amounts too.

So, here we are, surrounded by shit, but not sunk in it, somehow surviving the stench of it, while managing to find some source of strange sustenance in it. Hell, we must be a country of human flies. This seems to be indeed the secret of our continued success and the essence of our wonderful exceptionalism.

Yet, even flies get buried in shit every now and then. For the lousy thing about exceptions is that they tend to be as ephemeral as the rules. Our inherited wisdom somehow failed to make a note of that.

Indeed, the Jasmine-scented evenings of the Damascene "of yore" have long disappeared, though we continue to live off their faded memories in our shit-covered heads.

But what else can we do really? What else can be done?

We send our deepest sighs to heaven and keep logging our shit around. That's what we can do. That's all that can be done.

For shit-farming, our inherited wisdom informs us, is simply the only profession suitable for a people who have long let themselves be transmogrified into flies. That and shit-peddling, of course.

But, will they buy our shit at the UN, I wonder?