Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Formula

In Lebanon, when people are faced with one of two choices: Be happy but no one notices or be sad but everyone thinks you are happy, they choose the latter. The "everyone" here is "the society" yes THE society that people here talk about in the street, in taxis, inside homes, as if it is one, defined, known, and operating under a set of known rules and standards. When you say the word "the society" in Lebanon, everyone would know what you are talking about and the conversation would go on, while I am trying to figure out that society they are referring to, its norms we are bound to respect, or who had set them in the first place, but to be honest I have an inkling of an idea although I play stupid. It is a society where everyone watches everyone and judges everyone according to distorted standards and a twisted logic which annoys everyone but which also everyone dearly adheres to. These are the cruel and harsh norms by which you judge others and hence you are bound to accept when you are judged by: the Lebanese societal formula. Abide or be outcast. The choice is often not that simple or easy. An even shallow scrutiny would lead to one of those conclusions: 1) Abide and be unhappy (THE society), 2) Do not abide and be, at best, outcast: if you are lucky, you would be outcast and happy but no one knows (often not so happy too because being outcast is being outcast by your own loved ones) and in some cases outcast is not enough punishment and you would be dead. The majority has chosen to abide and when they do they would according to basics of psychology, justify their choices as the right ones and hence keep on preserving the trend, or as La Fontaine put it "les raisins que le renard n'a pas pu atteindre sont trop verts". Unhappiness becomes the rule of life only to be disguised in faking a happy lifestyle. They are all in that same pot which they have themselves created, that upsets them all, but that they refuse to change: The Formula becomes as static as a religion with often blur, irrational, and many times sadly funny commandments. And, as with the omnipresent omniscient God, societal eyes are everywhere, open ,watchful, and ready to punish and praise.

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