Post 79: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 79.

Tonight’s topic: Civil Resistance & Revolution


Lebanon: #Thawra

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

This is what we call a revolution in Lebanon. It is something we have been doing for a short time, only since October 17, 2019.

What we are seeing in the U.S. this week is a Thawra against police brutality, oppression, inequality, and racism. I am so proud to see so many people out in the streets in many cities, speaking out for #BlackLivesMatter, but truly, ALL lives matter.

I have been saying for the past 28 years, ever since the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, that the U.S. is facing a ticking time bomb when it comes to racial issues. Beating, torturing, and killing non-White men because of their color or race is not justified by any means. No matter the situation. Why don’t we see a White American being “handled” in the same manner by the police?

You guys out there protesting, more power to ya!

So let me tell you how we do Thawra here, only to give you some additional ideas:

  1. Daily protesting in the streets and city squares til the wee hours
  2. Closing down main arteries and roads into big cities with cars and trucks
  3. Daily car and truck convoys to politicians’ and governmental officials’ houses
  4. At 8 pm daily, we take out our pots and pans and make lots and lots of noise
  5. We write songs about Thawra and we blast them from trucks carrying big loudspeakers
  6. We wear the Lebanese flag as bandanas, face masks, and arm bands.
  7. We destroy government buildings (look at how the Lebanese Parliament is barricaded now)
  8. We have DJs hosting Thawra parties in all big cities and we yell and scream against the “nizam” (the screwed up system)
  9. Watch out for fifth-column infiltrators; in your case, the Aryans.

So my dear fellow Americans, go out and make noise, because we cannot let the system remain status quo. We must, we absolutely must, make the rights of every citizen mean the same to every American citizen.

Retrieved from alaraby.co.uk. No copyright infringement intended.

Palestine: We Need #Change

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Right after the George Floyd murder by a White police officer, I made a comment to my family about how the police tactics used today are as brutal as those used by Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians.

My son responded that I should not compare this incident with what’s happening to Palestinians under occupation, because we need to address the issue of social and racial injustice in America for what it is.

I totally agree and I am outraged by the blatant discrimination and murder of Black people at the hands of police officers in this country. However, as I read the news I see a few words tucked away amidst the myriad of US headlines. I see this international headline: “Israeli Forces Shoot and Kill Unarmed Autistic Palestinian Man.”

How can we pretend that this is okay? Iyad Halak, 32, was a mentally challenged autistic man. His crime? He was a Palestinian man walking down the street carrying something that was mistaken for a weapon. When the armed forces yelled for him to stop, this mentally disabled man ran away and attempted to hide. The police pursued Iyad and began to shoot at him. As Iyad lay dying, one officer continued to shoot at him.

This happens a lot to innocent of Palestinian men, women, and children. Most of the time, it doesn’t even make the news, or the report is tucked away discreetly at the back of the paper.

Retrieved from Reddit. No copyright infringement intended.

What can be done? Just as the Palestinians who protest the mistreatment of their people at the hands of the Israeli soldiers are called terrorist thugs, the Americans expressing their frustration to the mistreatment of Black people are called unpatriotic thugs.

As we saw during the South African apartheid, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. People can only be held down for a limited time before they respond emotionally in order to be heard.

You may be wondering how this is related to America. If I told you your U.S. tax dollars help fund a violent, racist Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, would that make a difference? What if I told you that almost all Palestinians murdered by the U.S.-funded Israeli military forces were unarmed? Would that make a difference?

The world has completely lost sight of humans and humanity, especially when we turn a blind eye. It is time to demand change and make change.


Syria: The #Revolution Continues

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

It started in early 2011 with simple, peaceful demonstrations and hundreds of brilliantly creative displays forms of nonviolent expression. Activists launched ping-pong balls marked with the words “freedom,” “democracy,” and “dignity” from a mountaintop in Damascus. There were original songs – the kinds that drew crowds of up to 500,000 in one instance, defying curfews and regime orders – about telling the dictator to get lost. Syrians held sit-ins, stand-ins, and flash mobs. They ran social media campaigns, flooding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with hashtags, posts, and videos. They banged pots and pans in noise demonstrations, then went totally silent in flat-out strikes. Once someone filled a water fountain in a main city square with red food coloring – the leaping, dancing water, when the water flowed, symbolized the blood of activists who were getting shot at, with increasing precision and savagery, by militarized police and soldiers. The regime released criminals from prisons, armed them, and had them infiltrate the peaceful protests to agitate and stir up violence. Suddenly, nonviolent activists were labeled “rioters,” “looters,” and “terrorists.”

Sound familiar in 2020s America?

Here’s part of an article I wrote in 2012 about the nonviolent movement in Syria:

“The cycle of demonstrations and gunfire repeats itself, every day, and we understand perfectly the need to defend against a brutal regime. We understand perfectly the urge to respond to the government’s crackdown with gunfire. Yet we maintain our position: “Violence plays into Assad’s hands. Violence begets more violence. Revenge begets more revenge.”

We are certain that if we truly want democracy, the transition must begin with us. We will not become the tyrant we are fighting.”

~ Me

That was all before the regime started using warplanes and barrel bombs to target residential buildings and schools and hospitals and markets. That was before the regime started using chemical weapons with alarming impunity.

As the police and other law enforcement in the U.S. get progressively more violent and use increasingly lethal weaponry, I hope my brothers and sisters in humanity – of all races and ethnicities – fare better than Syrians did in the quest for freedom. Trump’s calls on governors to use more force and show strength in the face of protests are reminiscent of Assad’s orders to his paramilitary troops on what to do with protesters: shoot them, arrest them, torture them, kill them.

Today, badged members of the press get shot at in crowds across the U.S. In Syria, reporting the truth is a crime punishable by permanent disappearance. Hell, you can get arrested and tortured for a Facebook post or a Tweet. Is that where the U.S. is headed?

It’s time to ask ourselves if America is any better than a third-world country led by a tin-pot dictator. Ironically, Assad also once hid in a bunker in an undisclosed location.

Syrians have not given up. Today, despite the 1 million dead, quarter-million disappeared, 6 million internally displaced, and nearly 6 million refugees, we still have a couple of favorite sayings: “Down with the dictator” and “the Revolution continues.”

And so, brothers and sisters in humanity, you must do what you must do in America, for the sake of future generations. Just like in Syria, the revolution continues.

#BlackLivesMatter #ResistDictatorship #Riots2020 #TrumpResign

Aleppo, Syria, 2014. Photo Credit: BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images
No copyright infringement intended

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Post 38: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on the role(s) of #women

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 38. 


If it’s a war, then I am a soldier

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Lots of heads of state are calling the fight against the #Coronavirus a war, a silent enemy that must be defeated. While I agree that the deadly virus must be defeated, I do think there’s another enemy out there that continues to attack our societies: sexism.

This enemy has been with us for millennia. It’s one that knows no racial or ethnic boundaries. Striking rich and poor alike, this enemy does not really discriminate based on culture or religion; it’s everywhere. Sometimes sexism is discreet, almost hidden, rearing its ugly head only every so often – for example when one is threatened by a strong woman. If you’ve ever been in the presence of this enemy, you’ll remember that you knew it, instinctively. Over the years you’ve learned to recognize and heed the twinge-y, sinking feeling in your gut when you encounter it, no matter how stealthily it is hiding. You just know.

Today’s war on the #coronavirus is also a war on our current social contract. The world is reeling from massive changes: democracies in decline, collapsing social structures, and free-falling economies. Human desperation is everywhere, even as the Earth heals, quietly and patiently, after so many years of abuse.

As we redefine our values and our essentials, perhaps we’re ready for a new paradigm, one that adopts equality as a human right rather than simply paying lip service to a concept. Let’s do that in the new Normal.

In fact, as part of our Corona-inspired angst and the redefinition process, people are making all kinds of pledges: we’ll do more of this, less of that once we’re out of this war. If we agree that social norms will surely change, let’s go a step further. Let’s pledge to end discrimination against women. For real this time; I for one am tired of seeing well-meaning but ineffectual numbers and letters, like menu items – “I’ll have a 1325 with a side of SDG to go, please.” We are redefining our -isms – nationalism, patriotism, sexism, chauvinism, and yes, feminism – and the new definitions will surely struggle to fit in our new Normal.

So as part of the pledge, can we agree to this: an equal workplace. I mean, location-independence has become a reality, and today’s “digital nomad” is more than just a cool title. Can we pledge to hold workplace leaders accountable – can they judge us by the quality of our work product rather than the size of our breasts? Will they value our achievements, decisiveness, and leadership…instead of wanting us to shake our ass “just for a minute.” Let’s stop sexism and misogyny in their tracks.

Can we do this? I’ll borrow from a great leader and say, “Yes, we can!”

Like most pandemics, the CoronaCrisis is temporary. But if we’re going to war on sexism, let’s be in it for the long haul.


I am woman, hear me roar!

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Today I am probably not writing anything new. Most of you already know about the role of women in society. However, I think it is important to keep discussions about women’s roles active to make an impact and a change. The title of my post are lyrics from a song by Helen Reddy from 1971. So this topic is not new and has been sung about, discussed in full-length features, and written about in books. I am going to keep my thoughts and frustrations short.

The role of women in the USA has been changing slowly. More women are taking on high-ranking jobs in corporations than ever before. However, despite the increase of women in the workforce and the great strides women have attained in the past decade, they still lag behind men. They fall short in numbers and salaries when it comes to positions of power, in both corporate and political offices. In addition, most women are still expected to fulfill their domestic duties on their own time.

On the other side of the spectrum, many women have jobs that make the world go round – some of which do not pay for overtime, time off, or sick leave. Yet during the Coronavirus crisis, women are expected to step up and report to work, both physically or remotely. While at home, the role of most women continues to be that of wife, mother, cook, nanny, cleaner, driver, etc., placing so much more stress on them.

What happens when both partners are working from home? Are the domestic duties being shared? Perhaps many households have some sort of shared responsibility, but I can guarantee that in most homes this is still the woman’s burden.

Is it the fact that women can bear children and discuss emotions that make them weak in a “man’s” world? Or is it the preconceived notion of their physical weakness that holds them back? I know of women, pre-corona, who were afraid of exposing their pregnancy to their bosses. Or afraid that if they showed any emotion they would be overlooked for the next promotion. Yes! This is 2020!

This is the perfect time to rise up and make noise. The whole world is experiencing the same dilemma. This is the time for women to show strength and demand change.

At the moment, in the USA the committees and task forces making decisions are male-dominated and do not make decisions from a woman’s perspective. I would like to see a shift in the respect for women in power, an equality for women in the workforce and a protection for women who still experience domestic violence. We should expect equality in the division of labor in the home and demand more assistance designated to single working mothers.

It’s really not too much to ask, but it is important to take every opportunity to make a positive change.


Revolution Mama

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

So when it comes to the role of women, I am a staunch supporter of all women; those on the frontlines, those on the assembly lines, those who are mothers, and those who are just housewives. Not just today; that has been one of my life’s missions.

I have total respect for the women who are carrying more weight on their shoulders today than they ever did. But, once upon a time, not centuries ago, women also were the backbone of society. During the First World War and the Spanish Flu, when women were still the underdog in many societies and yet had to cope with a pandemic without the resources we have today.

For one thing, there was no media like there is today. Each woman had to fend for herself and her family. More than 500 million people died (that’s one third of the world population at the time).

And the superwomen were the ones holding the world together. In Rebecca Onion’s 2019 article, she writes: “While male doctors flailed, women took charge of the day-to-day care for flu sufferers. Perhaps this is another reason why the flu epidemic faded in memory: It was the women who did most of the work, and that work was dangerous drudgery.”

During the Second World War, some of those same women were working in factories making B2 bombers and were still taking care of their families while the men were sent off to fight meaningless wars. They also didn’t have the resources that we have today, but they survived and their families are today’s grandmothers and grandfathers.

Which brings me to today’s Lebanese women.

You are upholding the lockdowns and multi-tasking, between working at home, supporting needy families, managing your long list of daily chores – from children’s online classes to finding the right groceries at the right prices, and taking care of and worrying about parents, and dealing with 24/7 temperaments. Just like women all over the world.

But you are also the mother of our revolution, with more responsibility today than ever. We have a revolution that we need to nourish with our hands and minds.

Will we go back to having coffees and forget the needy families that will still need our help? Will we go back to the gym and forget that we have to build bridges with other women two streets over and close the gap between us? Will we no longer head to the Ring because there are too many people not wearing masks and gloves?

I count on us, DC and AC, to continue our march forward and not to stop until we build a better place for our children to live in.

One day, when we are grandparents, we will tell the story of the October 17 Revolution, which was followed by the 2020 #corona pandemic, to our grandchildren. We will smile with pride. I know we will, because we have already achieved a lot.


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Post 37: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on… the meaning of “essential”

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 37. 


Essentially, we need to build a nation

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Oh, how I would love to tell you that my post-corona essentials will be what they used to be 2 years ago! But for the last 2 years, Lebanon has been an economic ticking time bomb that blew up on October 17. This was followed by government resignations, Eurobonds defaults, rampant corruption unveiled, and billions in looted public funds extracted out of the country to Switzerland and Luxembourg and other tax havens. 

Comes Christmas and the time for giving. The Lebanese were already 40% poorer due to the devaluation of the exchange rate and an unreal inflation of prices. Santa didn’t stop by!

Now comes #Covid-19. More than 800 restaurants closed down permanently. Day laborers couldn’t find work – the minimum wage was $20 a day, if they were lucky, but with devaluation that became utter pennies. Businesses reduced salaries by 50% or shuttered. The snowball rolled down the hill awfully fast. 

So what is essential to most Lebanese today, putting aside the 1% of course?

  1. Food: more than 50% of Lebanese are now below the poverty line due to unemployment and inflation. If it wasn’t for some amazing NGOs and charities distributing boxes of staples to poor families, and the Lebanese army (under the new government) is doing the same, these families would not be able to purchase bread to eat with their tea – a meal in many poor households.
  2. Electricity and water: Almost everyone in Lebanon has to pay 2 electricity bills (regular bill and generator subscription – this is due to the daily blackouts we have had since 2006). We also have to pay for municipality water, water purchases when the municipality fails to provide water, as well as drinking water.
  3. Internet and cellular services: One of the highest bills in the world, the Lebanese have been lucky that the cellular companies that have been robbing us for so long provided free Internet during the lockdown. What happens post-Corona? Will we ever get decent coverage or high-speed Internet?
  4. Healthcare: If you work a full-time job, you have social security that covers some healthcare services. If you own a business (most Lebanese are entrepreneurs), you can’t apply for social security. Then you have to pay for insurance coverage. Or not.
  5. Retirement pension: Again, if you work in the public sector or are employed, you are entitled to “end of service” pension. If you don’t, no official IRA or 401K plan exist, so either your children provide for you, or you keep on working because no one will look after you. Or you starve and become homeless.

The essentials and priorities in Lebanon, with the advent Covid-19, coupled with economic distress, have become eating, having a roof, staying healthy, and staying employed. Staying alive.

For the 1%, I am sure it is the ability to export more of their funds abroad. 

For me, “essential” is not owning a business or starting one; it is not going to the gym, hairdresser, or spa, and not buying more things we don’t need and not spending frivolously because we can. What is essential to me is to help build a nation that I and more than 4 million other citizens can survive in with dignity. I, as a Lebanese citizen, am a red line.


You are essential!

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Here we are one month or so into our “lockdown” in the USA. All businesses are still closed except for those deemed as essential . Did you know that the homeland security has issued a 10-page list of essential businesses? It might have been easier to just list those that should remain closed like educational establishments, retail, entertainment, and sports. All others, just figure it out and make it work.

Obviously, we need the first responders, healthcare workers, police, and army. We need gas so we can fill our cars to go to the bank to access to our money. From there we take a trip to the store and buy our essentials like food, diapers, booze, and cigarettes.

We go about our everyday life without a thought to the process. We take for granted that we get what we need and our lives just run smoothly. Now we are told that if we stay home and only go out to the grocery store this will all work out.

But how does it work? What about all those behind the scenes? Does anyone really think of them?

Let’s take a simple bag of rice. What does it take for that to reach our shelves at the grocery store? We can start with the farmers in California or Asia who grow and water the rice plants. The rice is harvested and dried. It is then threshed, dried again, and milled. All these processes are completed by hand or machine, but mostly by minimum-wage employees.

The rice is then loaded in burlap sacks and placed on trucks. Drivers will transport it to a packaging plant, which will package this rice in plastic bags made and printed at another facility. The rice is then boxed in cardboard boxes that are also made at another facility. These boxes are then re-loaded and taken by different drivers to the distribution centers and put on trucks, ships, trains, or planes to be transported around the world. When they finally arrive at your local store, the boxes are inventoried, unpacked, and placed neatly on the shelves by the grocery store employees. Finally we walk in the store grab the rice, pay, and leave!

So where do we draw the line on essential? As far as I’m concerned, all workers are all essential. Some jobs may seem menial, but in a chain they are extremely necessary.

I hope that after this pandemic we can appreciate those people behind the scenes, those who are under-appreciated and underpaid.


Is recreation essential?

Norma B. Wallace, #Bend, #Oregon

What are essential needs? That’s really obvious because they are food, clothing, and shelter. Once those are satisfied – what is essential? I think all of us who are in this Coronavirus Lockdown are grateful for the absolute essentials. To provide these essentials are the farmer, the transportation industry, the roads so construction, the delivery, the grocers, and clerks.  The list goes on and on. For every essential need, there are hundreds of people providing. Perhaps one good thing that has come from the lockdown is the appreciation for all the people we depend on to provide the essentials. 

After the essentials are met, the next question is, what is important? For me, that is an easy question. Family and friends. Yet, as much as we love them, can we be with them 24 /7? We need to work to have the resources to pay for the essentials. Working 24/7 isn’t enough either. That brings us to recreation and what that is for you. Yes, it is regional, and individual. One definition is refreshment of strength and spirits after work. Another definition is to simply re-create or some form of renewal. So yes, I believe recreation is essential. I love the four seasons and I choose and love the activities in each season. The picture is from one of my snowshoe hikes just a few miles from my house. Each season has special activities for me, and I love them all. Yet, it is not the activity or what I was doing that I treasure. It is whom I was with and how we felt. 

So I have to ask myself the question, what is essential, what is a real need?   I think the real need is love, caring for each other, and having hope. So once again, my last thought is that of hope. I hope each of us will come out of this crises with hope for the future, and love and caring for one another. 


Let there be Internet

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Gone is the conventional wisdom that “essential personnel” are limited to those in the armed forces or first responders. BC (Before Corona), bullets and tanks could save us, or so we were told. Back then, I’m pretty sure most people didn’t give a second thought to the grocery store clerk or the street cleaner. We know better now.

In with Covid-19, out with the old definitions as we slowly resign ourselves to our new “normal.” The definition of war is changing, since electronic warfare is cooler, and anyway, tanks and guns can’t neutralize the virus. Our modern-day heroes don’t only wear fatigues or capes; they also don their butchers’ aprons, medical scrubs, and firefighters’ turnout pants and jackets. Our wars are localized, and the truck drivers and bakers are just some of the folks we never thought to thank before who are keeping the supply chain moving so the rest of us can social-distance and quarantine in relative comfort.

While we’re redefining “essential,” let’s look at the habits we’ve kept up DC (during Coronavirus). What is an essential element in our day-to-day existence under lockdown? Of course there’s Maslow’s Hierarchy, but a modern pandemic in a modern existence requires more levels of essentials than just the bottom layers of the pyramid.

What about connectivity? Today more than ever, an Internet connection is essential (and should be a human right) if we want to communicate with, um, basically anyone. How else do we commiserate, cry, worry, or share with people who are not in our immediate household? The Internet now where we go to work AND play. Take away my Internet and, yes, you’ll have a revolution on your hands.

Speaking of revolution, I know we like to criticize billionaires and giant corporations. They’re too rich, we claim, and should do more to give back. I have been among those critics. I’ve called for the wealthy to give back more than they already have.

But let’s face it. You’re not reading this post, reading your newsfeed, listening to a podcast, or binge-watching a show because of providence or goodwill. Your online access and social media were not heaven-sent. You can thank, among others, a Gates, a Jobs, and a Zuckerberg. And if you need to do some shopping, Bezos and his team are right there for you. Shouldn’t these people and their teams get some hero credit?

The lockdown has given me a new perspective on who my heroes are and who they aren’t. And why they are and aren’t. My essentials have changed. Have yours?


Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.