Is the world’s population living better than ever before?

The World Economic Forum in Davos in January, more than usual, prompted a spirited round of elite-bashing, which has now become the trendy political posture on both the right and left. On one side, US President Trump and Fox News hosts slam the out-of-touch establishment that, according to them, has run things into the ground. […]

Is the world’s population living better than ever before?

Back to lockdown!

Stillness captured a while ago!
An empty street in Jounieh, 20 Km north of Beirut

Due to the massive work of cleaning, sheltering, helping and rebuilding after the Beirut port explosion that happened on August 4th, unfortunately the covid19 cases skyrocketed. There are on average 500 new cases every day.  Therefore, the government decided  for a two weeks lockdown for the following reasons:

  • The explosion destroyed three major hospitals and patients were relocated in different hospitals. This leaves us with less hospital rooms/beds to treat covid19 cases. In addition, hospitals are already crowded with injured people and ill people. A big hospital that was slightly destroyed had to treat 700 injured people the day of the explosion!
  • The covid19 cases are spread out; the government couldn’t isolate some affected regions. However an exception was given to Beirut, precisely to the area of the blast, so work can still go on.
  • My personal opinion is that the government doesn’t want more protests down the streets.

With that being said, here we are again in quarantine. Although I was out and about on some occasions but following all restrictions of the covid19, the idea of being in lockdown again is hard to swallow. I am spending my time between working out, working online, some gardening and nature photography. I still visit some close friends.

2020 is definitely the year of change. Whoever is still clinging to the previous normal life, will find it hard to cope with what was referred to as “the new normal”, a post I wrote a while ago that you can check it here: The new normal

Beirut, the aftermath V

Two weeks passed by since the explosion took place. Thankfully, we received a lot of help from all over the world. Many experts and specialists are still here inspecting, helping, working with locals. Beirut narrow streets are over crowded.

Below some more pictures of the aftermath.

Photography by @dvjkaa

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Can’t get enough of the port!

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This is what used to be a building of fancy apartments. 

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A traditional Lebanese house turned into a restaurant. These 100 years old buildings are threatened of collapsing. 

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On a lighter note, the flower eye man amidst a protest in downtown Beirut. 

Beirut, the aftermath IV

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Broken window glasses!

What can I say about the general feeling? It is a mix of entangled feelings that words can’t sum up: despair, depression, sadness, fear, anxiety, frustration… Sometimes words are useless.

This explosion is beyond any war. As war people ourselves, we know that any war takes time to destroy a city. Meanwhile, people escape or know what to do because we are used to deal with troubles. However, this explosion destroyed half of the city in minutes. It swiped up lives, houses, families, memories and future plans.

Below are some photos of the broken Beirut.

Photography by @dvjkaa

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Broken houses, broken lives!

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I wonder what this was exactly before the explosion.

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Probably, a toilet door in a pub.

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It was a pub. 

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View from above of destruction after debris were cleaned away. 

 

Beirut, the aftermath I

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I don’t know the author of these beautiful words but what they say is very accurate. This is the Beirut experience!

Almost 300000 homeless families, 200 dead, many missing (we don’t know their exact number), 5000 injured. I tried to sum up the effect of the stories in the pictures below.

Photography by @dvjkaa

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What’s left of the Beirut port and the grain containers, the silos. 

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What used to be fancy buildings with a great view on the sea

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Looks like a tomb with red flowers on it!

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somewhere, old buildings endangered of collapsing

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The Forum of Beirut where exhibitions and concerts used to be held

Beirut, before and after the explosion in pictures

I will dedicate this month’s posts to Beirut and it will be only photography. As I said it in my previous post, words are useless. This time they really are.

Thank you to all of you who sent me messages to ask about me. I can never be grateful enough. Please stay safe.

Beirut Lebanon Port - Containers And Cranes. Image shot 1995. Exact date unknown.
 Beirut Lebanon Port  before the explosion

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The three explosions

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Beirut port after the explosion

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aerial photo of the aftermath

 

High Hopes by Pink Floyd: Did they see the global disaster coming?

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When art tells reality and predicts the future with poetry, imagination and music (all in a broader sense), it fulfills its highest role.  The Division Bell is my favorite Pink Floyd’s album, contrary to many people’s opinions out there. The song High Hopes describes the world we knew, and to push the interpretation further, the world before the pandemic maybe:

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary

And the global sanitary shift started the division of our life into old and new normal, taking our dreams away:

The ringing of the division bell had begun
Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut
There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before times took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

Back then the grass was greener and the memory of our old life brings light images to our minds:

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
When friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

 

Yes, we all dreamed bigger because we thought the world was somehow safe and ambition was indeed unsatisfied, actions were endless, restless global movements:

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
For ever and ever

It is a beautiful song, deep and rich with meanings like all Pink Floyd’s and to keep the pleasure ongoing, that’s the link to the musical video:

Protests, violence and mimesis.

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Ever wondered how come The  Global Wave Protests in 2019 (and still on in 2020) were born? Going back few years ago how was it possible for the Arab Spring to occur amongst brutal dictatorships? And on a smaller scale, why would a peaceful protest turn to violent riots?

On my previous post (https://maylynno.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/), I pointed out a link between desire, desire of recognition and mimesis. Humans are driven by desire and by competition which is an underlying desire of recognition, leading to envy, to jealousy and to imitation. These social dynamic concepts are intensified by the infinite mirror of the word that is social media. Social media is the production (one can use the word industry) of mimesis. It takes one massively broadcasted happening protest on social media to trigger many other protests around the world. Also, it takes one individual violent act during a strike to turn a peaceful march into a war zone.

I have spent half of my life protesting down the streets for all kind of rights. I know for a fact that once in a crowd, the energy level of each participant is intensified. There is a crowd bath that makes all people function like one body. Fear of being attacked becomes a rage of attacking. The boiling energy, as any energy, will eventually burst out, especially when awaited solutions are delayed. The more they are delayed, the bigger will be the possibility of violent acts. The rage of one person will trigger mimesis or the rage of every marching participant. This happened in Black Lives Matter movement (The US riots: a mirror of the world), with the Gilets Jaunes, in Hong Kong, in Lebanon Protests (Revolution and emotional wreck), in the Arab Spring, in Ukraine, in Sudan and elsewhere too throughout history until now.

However, this mimic violent act, mostly caused by rage and energy of protesters, is the desire of the government. Violence is responded by violence. And who has based its power on the “legitimate violence” (Eric Weil)? The State has. “The legitimate violence” is incarnated by the State’s armed forces. Forces of order will mimic violent protesters and sometimes it is vice versa, depending on the situation. Everybody imitates everybody. It explains why Mahatma Gandhi was so powerful in both his silence and his stillness down the streets along millions of his Indian followers.

The question remains on the importance or not of violence for a protest’s success. There is no one size fits all type of answer. Sometimes violence works and sometimes it turns against protesters. What is a common ground to any violence act in the world, whether in protesting or in wars, is mimesis and the desire of recognition.