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Hazem Saghiyeh

When we fail to treat the wounded

Lebanon’s decision not to treat wounded Syrian nationals is a nervy and courageous decision that embodies its estrangement from all that’s “humanitarian.”

This explains the use of the adjective “courageous,” albeit in the negative sense of the word, even if courage usually enlists positive connotations. Indeed, there is courage to saying loud and clear: I am not providing treatment to the wounded.

It is a well-known fact that a doctor is ethically and professionally bound to treat his wounded foes, even in the midst of a battlefield.

Politics is most probably not enough to explain this courageous nerviness and – one may even say – monstrosity. We are called upon to look for other deeper reasons to explain this decision.

This behavior brings the Lebanese people back to a pre-human behavior, i.e. one that precedes the discovery by human beings that they share this humanity with everyone else. Reaching this conviction, which is entrenched in Western culture, actually hinged on two major transformations that went along the rise of modernism:

- Man replaced God as the leader of development, thus acquiring sainthood, albeit in a lay form.

- Man, as per his identity, replaced the son of a given community, tribe or nation, thus acquiring a universal character.

Accordingly, abstaining from treating those wounded is a form of admitting that “man” is not among us or that we are relinquishing the humanity we had once reached and retreating to some previous form of monstrosity. Indeed, were a monster to come across someone who’s wounded, it would finish it off and eat it.

All Lebanese should see their own mirror image in this decision, especially in the midst of a tourist season during which international bands are invited to perform in Lebanon and “civilized” Lebanese are flocking to enjoy their performances.

Yes, we are doing this out of some pretended universalism much like we are abstaining from treating the wounded out of a genuine and deep-reaching decadence based on which our sectarianism and tribalism are definitely prevailing over our humanity.

The Syrian refugees, especially those whose bodies bear the marks of Assad’s aggression, gave the Lebanese a chance to prove that they have enough nobility to make life decent and beautiful. However, our monstrosity was keen to squander this chance.

This article is a translation of the original, which first appeared on the NOW Arabic site on Monday July 23, 2012



  • Sandra

    Shocking! Is it true? Who made this decision?

    August 2, 2012