Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Sri Lankan is from Ethiopia

"My Sri Lankan is from Ehtiopia" "السري لنكية تبعيتي من اثيوبيا"

This is how a Lebanese woman describes her maid. This means that the word "maid" has now been replaced in the Lebanese dictionary by the word "Sri Lankan", just as a paper tissue was eventually replaced by Kleenex.

There are, of course, a number of words that people can use in the Lebanese language for "maid". We have "صانعة" (Saan3a, which literally means "maker", as in homemaker) but this has become politically incorrect. The politically correct word would be "خادمة" which means "servant".

But maids are generally seen as lower human creatures by the Lebanese, especially those Lebanese women who have money or who recently "arrived" into money (nouveaux riches) by the traditional enrichment processes of thievery, hoodwinking, corruption, and so on. The Lebanese have one goal in life: to show the other Lebanese that they have made it, regardless of whether this brings them happiness or not. Everything the average Lebanese does is geared to proving to others that he or she is superior to the scum around them, i.e. everyone else. Solipsism is a hallmark of the Lebanese psyche: I am the center of the world and I don't care about anyone else or anything else but the aggrandizement of myself. Not very Christian or Moslem you might think, tough the Lebanese claim to be devout (and in times of war, fanatic) religious believers.

So how do you go about demonstrating to others that you have made it, that you have succeeded, and that you are better then them? You just have to shove it down their throats by displaying every possible symbol of cheap low grade stupid success. Now, since Lebanese society is a repressed society, lacking genuine social communication between citizens, the only available venue for the Lebanese to communicate is the street, the roads, and hence one's outward appearance. What things about yourself can you project to others without having to talk to them? Basically things like your car, your behavior on the road, your clothes and other accoutrements. This is really at the foundation of social behavior in Lebanon. In other countries people go about their business searching for happiness regardless of what others might think of you or your appearance. In Lebanon, it is the complete opposite: Every action or projection of one's appearance is destined to communicate to others what you want them to think about you. It matters a whole lot to the Lebanese individual what others think of you.

That is why Lebanese project themselves for example by their cars: Big cars, scary looking cars, noisy cars, dark shaded car windows, car plates with 3, 4 or 5 digit numbers, cars without plates... All these features aim to tell others on the road that you are important and that they should be afraid of you. If the car is big, for example, it means that you have money. If the car is noisy, the owner is begging you to notice him. Dark shaded windows, low digit car plates... tell the others that you have connections (because only people with connections can get these plates... the lower the number the more important you'll appear to others).

The manner of driving on the road is also intended to project aggression and instill fear in the other drivers. Stopping in the middle of the street to talk to a buddy tells those behind you that you don;t give a fuck about them and you can get away with it. Double parking, tailgating, flashing headlights... all driving conduct that is considered dangerous in civilized countries is the standard here. Driving dangerously like a maniac projects an image that you are above the law, in addition to the obvious demonstration that you are basically an idiot who will risk his own life ad the lives of others to make sure they get the message of your importance in this world.

Maids in Lebanon are like cars. They are status symbols. If you have two maids, you've hit the jackpot of showing your neighbors and those around you how great and rich you are. You could be deep in debt, but it is a price you are willing to pay to appear important. Because of this greatness you want to project, the maid will always sit in the back seat even if the passenger seat is empty because you must prove to others that you are of another social class than the maid. The maid will never sit at the table with your family for lunch, just as maids are forbidden from taking a dip in the pool or the ocean when accompanying their masters to the fancy beach resort. Maids must wear the "maid uniform", regardless of whether she actually needs to wear one, because, again, this is to demonstrate to others that she is not part of your family or your caste, even though she is scrubbing your shit day in and day out.

Maids in Lebanon come from very poor backgrounds in very poor countries like Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, African countries like Togo or Ghana or others. They endure tremendous hardship (abuse of all kind, withholding of their papers, and abysmal salaries...) just to save a couple of thousands of dollars after 3 years of work.

So, you see how the ignorance of the Lebanese makes them say things like "My Sri Lankan is from Ethiopia". What an insult to the country of Sri Lanka and its people when ignorant Lebanese make assumptions about who they are. Ignorance breeds racism, condescension, arrogance... A Lebanese will feel inferior to, and kiss the ass of, a drunken toothless blond blue eyed taxi driver from England, but will feel superior to a smart highly intelligent but dark Sri Lankan PhD in nuclear physics. That is the gist of Lebanese culture, and by extension the culture of Arabs in general. They are so full of themselves because they believe that some thousands of years ago they made one pathetic contribution to humanity, and that is license enough to wallow in modern ignorance and depravity. For the Lebanese, they monopolize the merit for the invention of the phonetic alphabet, though arguably their Phoenician ancestors may or may not have lived in today's Lebanon or they may or may not have borrowed the invention from someone else, and even if the Phoenicians did invent the alphabet, that was thousands of years ago, and it is not a free voucher for today's arrogance for the Lebanese.  Arabs wallow in the glory of the Muslim Conquest of the 7th and 8th centuries in which they invaded and forcibly converted people to Islam, then established a successful empire (like so many other peoples and empires) for a couple of hundred years before falling back into the abject ignorance and backwardness from which they came. To this day, the Arabs claim that this ancient glory remains extant and they can milk it ad libitum to claim some respectability in today's world. Yet, in today's world, Lebanon is a mess of a country, and the Arab world is also a mess of two dozen countries.

Humility and modesty are not a feature of the Lebanese character. That may be the reason why this country is an ungovernable mess. When every individual feels superior to everything around him or her, to his fellow citizens, to the very foundations that are necessary to build a society of civilized people, he or she believes that they are above the law. Some argue that the absence of deterrence, of the enforcement of the laws by draconian means, makes the Lebanese the way they are, and unless some benign dictator can some day instill fear and eradicate the arrogance out of people like that, and force them to abide by the law, for a couple of generations, the country will remain the mess that it is today.

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