Een reflectie op een jaar revolutie door Akram Antaki

Akram Antaki, redacteur van het Syrische online magazine Maaber, reflecteert in zijn hoofdartikel van deze maand op een jaar Syrische revolutie.  Hij blijft hopen dat menselijkheid en wijsheid kunnen overwinnen, dat er een politieke uitweg gevonden kan worden uit de crisis. “Als we proberen diep in onszelf te kijken, in positieve interactie met het leven en met anderen, die we uiteindelijk zelf ook zijn, als we proberen eerlijk te leven en denken, temidden van de realiteit en met elkaar communiceren als mensen temidden van alle gebeurtenissen, kunnen we dan niet, vraag ik me af, de waarheid begrijpen van wat er gebeurt in onze dubbele wereld, en de welkome horizon van onze dromen opzoeken?” Lees hier het gehele artikel in het Engels:

A Return to the Self 
in the existing reality… and in wisdom…

Akram Antaki

However you may be a leader shall be appointed for you.

Saying by the Prophet Mohammad

Peace Be Upon Him


A year has gone by, or almost, since the revolution erupted in my country. And the revolution is not over yet. A year full of tragedy, blood and frustration, and at the same time, full of hope and dreams…

A while ago an “old friend” wrote on his Facebook page, “we turned freedom from a shiny dream to a dark tunnel”. I sadly contemplate the ease with which some articulate fancy words. I contemplate that this “old friend” and others may be right, if we can isolate ourselves from what is going on and deal with the tragedies of this life condescendingly as if we have nothing to do with us. But this is impossible, from the point of view of the conscience, before being impossible from a life point of view (at least for me). I believe those who isolate themselves can no longer understand anything. Therefore, if we …

If we try to go look deeply into ourselves, which should be in positive interaction with life and with others, who are us at the end of the day, if we try to think and to live honestly at the heart of reality, and communicate amongst ourselves as people at the heart of events, can we not, I wonder, understand the truth about what is happening in our double world and seek the welcoming horizon of that dream, the one we should seek?

I start with what Marten Buber said one day, reflecting on our modern world, that…

The communal life of man can no more than man himself dispense with the world of It, over which the presence of the Thou moves like the spirit upon the face of the waters. Man’s will to profit and to be powerful have their natural and proper effect so long as they are linked with, and upheld by, his will to enter into relation. There is no evil impulse till the impulse has been separated from the being; the impulse which is bound up with, and defined by, the being is the living stuff of communal life, that which is detached is its disintegration. Economics, the abode of the will to profit, and State, the abode of the will to be powerful, share in life as long as they share in the spirit. If they abjure spirit they abjure life.[i]

And, I try – starting with myself – to think about what happened and what is happening in the world of the “thou” that is me. I start with those at the top of power in my country…


The first thing I sense in those, and that terrifies me, is the real loss of any connection with the life and pain of humans. Therefore, with the “thou” that is the reflection – positive or negative – of their inflated self. This led to the loss of the sense of responsibility… and to the loss of wisdom.

Because, If they had any wisdom and / or any sense of responsibility, we would not be where we are today. It would have been possible to deal the incidents that started in an area – that was considered a pro-regime area – with compassion, and directly. It would have been possible to end the problem in its cradle, consensually. It would have sufficed if those at the top of the regime had communicated directly, and humbly, with those affected, as partners in the homeland. They could have apologized to them publically. They could have referred those responsible for that abuse to the judiciary. But what happened was the opposite, and therefore, it was a denial of the spirit of partnership, and a denial of life…

If they had had any sense of responsibility and / or any wisdom, they would not have used the national army to bombard the cities. The defections that later took place would have been treated, those that took place for the first time in the modern history of the country, through a honest and public dialogue and through real efforts to identify their reasons and to treat them… they would have sought persistently, urgently and continuously to have a direct, public and honest dialogue with everyone, and especially with the full spectrum of the opposition.

Because if they had any wisdom or sense of responsibility, the revolution would not have happened in the first place..

But, how shameful… there was, from the first day, shooting on unarmed people… there was, from the first day, the choosing of the security solution which lead us to where we are, the chaos and the Internationalization…

I reflect about what pushed those – who are ultimately from among us – to act with such frivolity?! I do not find a real reason exept their lack of connection with the real life. This led to that whish of profit, which we call in Arabic, greed and immorality, and to that clinging to that power that owns them and blinded them. When the insight is lost, and / or wisdom is lost, man – especially if in control of money and / or power – becomes a carnivorous monster. And the monster does not understand the meaning of politics! Politics is the wise management of the city’s affairs. Human politics is not like cattle ranching, as was and is still practiced by people who have appointed themselves leaders of this country…

On the other hand, when the insight is blind and the wisdom is lost in some of us, is it not the duty of the others to have more insightful, and more wisdom?!


I contemplate, trying to put myself in the place of someone whose home was destroyed and / or was tortured and lost a loved one. That person whose first answer my be: Theorizing is easy for you who have not been damaged or abused. And for those who have not lost a brother or a loved one.

I understand this initial reaction and this rejection that is justified on humanitarian grounds. However, are direct and spontaneous reactions the solution and the way that secures a departure from the current crisis? Or do they further complicate matters?

Because if the roots of popular movement in our country – which has turned into an overwhelming revolution due to the mismanagement by those at the helms of power of the crisis – are moral, humanitarian, in terms of demands, and national, and still are. Many reasons that have superseded everybody, made whatever is sectarian, group oriented and private prevail over the humanitarian, national and public. This is what prompted the gradual transformation of the popular movement from a peaceful and national movement carrying the concerns and dreams of the people, their issues, to acts of violence that have become battles between armies. This opened the door to foreign interventions by all parties, and we were all entered into a dark tunnel that no one concerned wished for.

Thus, from a moral and pragmatic standpoint, arises the necessity of seeking a historic settlement that takes the country out of the miserable state it has come to be in and avoid the worst that has now become expected. A settlement that guarantees to all the country’s components equal opportunities to freedom and dignified living in a country where everyone is a partner. A historic settlement whose broad lines can be sought through the following main directions:

–         First: The need for everyone, especially the people of those minorities that have traditionally supported the regime, to feel that they are indispensible in this country, where they should live freely, with dignity and in security. This explicitly means giving those minorities tangible guarantees that make them feel secure.

–         Second: At the same time, make the people of the country in general, and specifically the majority, feel that they rights to live in dignity in their country are guarantee, so that there is no oppression of them by any group, minority or person.

–         Third: The need to reinstate confidence in the country, and namely its military institution, by seeking to understand the reasons that led to the defections. This will certainly lead to a halt in the fighting and to re-absorb the defectors. This institution, dear to all our hearts, came to the pitiful state it is in today, not only because of the stupidity of those who are today at the head of political and security power, but also because of the structural flaws in its composition which are no longer a secret to anyone. This is something that needs to be studied…

–         Fourth: The need to create an environment of confidence to reach a solution to the crisis and a settlement that is honorable for everyone. But…


Can any solution to any crisis be reached, and / or can the reaching of any settlement to any problem, without dialogue? And I am answered by the same philosopher who contemplates us from above, saying:

– Speechmaker, you speak too late. Just a little time ago you would have been able to believe in your speech, now you no longer can. For, a moment ago, you saw as I did, that the State is no longer led; the stokers still pile in the coal, but the leaders have now only the semblance of control over the madly racing machines.[ii]

I contemplate that this is, unfortunately, the truth of the reality in our country today.

Where the state is no longer really led… as its leaders, who accumulate mistakes and coal, and lack wisdom, have only a semblance of control over the madly racing machines that are leading us all to destruction.

I contemplate that from here precisely comes the need for them to immediately step down and make room for others…

I contemplate that from here precisely comes also the need for everyone to be wise and visionary so that this matter becomes the heart of real agreement between all components of this homeland.

Or else, whether we like it or not, the revolution will continue and the destruction will continue, which will not stop until everyone feels the need to take a decisive and principle-driven stand on what is happening…

Yes, the revolution will continue, and with it, unfortunately, the destruction will continue, until the wise from all parties of our society take control of matters…

I go back to myself at the end, and I cry and pray for the spirits of the martyrs, and for the fighting to stop…

I go back to myself having said what I did, because it must be said…

[ii] Ibid. 


Over Marjolein Wijninckx

Marjolein is programmaleider Midden-Oosten en woont en werkt in Jordanie. Volg haar op Twitter @paxmarjolein.
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