Every time a new attack happens–Beirut, Turkey, France, Belgium–I watch the news helplessly and I feel myself reverting back to that wartime child. Living in Canada has managed to soften and crumble the hard shell I had built up but I feel it creeping up and tightening its noose around me again in times like these. I can feel myself becoming jaded again, not because I don’t care but out of a sense of self preservation. Then I start reading about all the personal stories and they shatter me. All those feelings of fear, loss and confusion knock me down like a tidal wave. I relate to every single story on a personal level. The confusion, the sadness, the helplessness, the anger. The more I read, the more I feel like I’m drowning. When I visit an unstable country like Beirut, I expect the turmoil but if it can happen in Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, then how can one ever feel safe again? How can one ever want to step out of their house again? How can a traveller like me ever feel safe doing what I love most?
When I was a teenager, I rebelled against, well, everything, really. I especially rebelled against the war. If I wanted to go to the beach or hang out with my friends, I did, even if it meant putting myself in danger and worrying my poor parents (so sorry mom and dad). I am older now and without the insouciance of those teenage years, the world has become a much scarier place. I worry about my loved ones back home on a daily basis but the ugliness has now spread beyond the borders of those “troubled areas” and has seeped into the nooks and crannies of our safe places. The Lebanese people are a resilient bunch who never stopped eating, drinking, living and laughing throughout the war. In the end, this legendary joie de vivre and the willingness to live even more fiercely in the face of chaos is what saved us. It’s cliché, I know, but I won’t allow anyone to stop me from living or from travelling. No one will stop me from discovering this beautiful planet we call home, one country at a time and one culture at a time. I won’t allow anyone to instil a fear of my fellow human in me. My curiosity for getting to know them will always be far greater than any suspicion. No one and nothing will stop me from sharing a meal and a laugh with a stranger half way across the globe.