Law in Contemporary Society
I grew up spending my summer holidays with family in a small Lebanese town. As a child, I could see the bullet holes from the 1975–1990 civil war in the side of my maternal grandparents’ house. At the same time, I was struck by the fact that despite their hardships, people in our town continued to pay morning visits to one another to build community. Through it all, our family and friends came together to drink coffee, share community news, and tell one another’s fortunes by reading the coffee grounds in the decorative finjan mugs. During our reunions, voices intertwine like dissonant notes in a lively melody, each eager to find its place in a “harmonious” commotion––a reflection of our enthusiasm to share stories rather than intentional rudeness. Yet, the art of listening remains hardly understood.

While growing up as an only child, my parents fostered an environment where my voice was cherished. Early on, I liked to follow through on my decisions and do things my way, such as dealing with online harassment as a teenager, planning my academic path independently, developing my own rapport with God, or founding my startup. Faced with many questions, my parents constantly encouraged me to speak up and found comfort in relying on my words in moments of uncertainty. Holmes would say they used my words as a certainty for repose, but it was generally an illusion, which is why I kept seeking different answers, sometimes unsettled, or embracing all, always in between.

Through these experiences, I developed the need to speak up to exist––not exist to impress but exist to be my authentic self. It embodies my earnest belief that through persistence and passion, words, akin to lyrics in a symphony, possess the power to effect change in the world. However, our course’s journey made me realize that meaningful change isn’t only achieved through words alone, but also through the art of active listening. At the very onset of the course and ever since, I have been guided to step back, delve into the meaning of song lyrics, and listen to the dialogue unfolding in the classroom.

From our course, I took away the invaluable lesson of actively listening, which sheds new light on my ancestral home, Lebanon. In the summer of 2020, a tragic explosion decimated Beirut’s port, killing hundreds of people. I am convinced this catastrophe was the product of deep-seated corruption, orchestrated by individuals influenced by external forces and armed groups sowing fear and terror among citizens. It serves as a stark reminder that Lebanon finds itself ensnared, similar to a prisoner deprived of any autonomy and freedom to exist on its own. It dances to the tunes of a myriad of external hands, a chorus of voices, each vying for power in the political arena. Their ability to truly listen to each other’s concerns or empathize with the populace remains non-existent. This underscores the urgent need for transformative change––a shift towards genuine listening and empathy.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night [echoing the plight of the living death]

Take these broken wings and learn [listen] to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise […]

For this moment to be free” [to exist as yourself] –– The Beatles, Blackbird

Beyond Lebanon, at the heart of the Middle East’s everlasting turmoil, lies a profound lack of listening, fueling little understanding. How can anyone find clarity to listen when hatred consumes all sides of the political game? Through the resonance of our shared history, our collective anguish, our hopes, and dreams, both political actors and we, the people, would have recognized our kindship. It is listening with empathy, with hearts open wide, that we may uncover a creative common ground, rather than merely tuning in to orchestrate reprisals. In line with Brown, my underlying motivation stems from a deep hatred of injustice, yet dissenting with Brown, I maintain injustice is not resolved through violence, but rather mutual creativity for peace. Our greatest strength as humans lies in our capacity for empathy. What we need is heart speaking to heart and listening to each other’s beat.

Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope” of empathy, let listening be our creed, and let words materialize our creativity, for therein lies the seed of change, waiting to bloom in our soil."

I think my suggestions for improvement would come at the expense of your desired style. Despite its Franco-Lebanese roots, it is in this context, Whitmanesque. My editorial instincts run in other directions, but this is your writing and it must have its way.


Webs Webs

r2 - 19 May 2024 - 14:00:32 - EbenMoglen
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM