For the last week I’ve been increasingly computer bound. I trawl through blogs of people trapped or remaining in Lebanon.

Reading the paper every day is one thing. It’s a simple experience to open a crisp new Guardian whilst riding the 277 double decker to Islington, surrounded by pompous men in suits, giggling children in uniforms, mothers clucking over their babies and other head-in-newspaper travellers. I can be dismayed, shocked, scared and confused in turn, but eventually I will get off that bus, and I will walk to my office and I will get on with my day. I will think about the Israel and Hezbollah conflict (hmmm… ‘conflict’ – that word doesn’t seem enough, does it? But after pondering for five minutes over alternatives, it’s the only word I can settle on) but I will work without the sound of bombs, or the terror of losing a loved one, or the fear of everything I love being gone.

A few days ago the Guardian published the diary of a women in Lebanon – we are similar in age and careers… it got me thinking (as I imagine it did for most who read it) about the many people from both sides, living a horror that they have no say in, watching their family members go off to fight a war they don’t want to happen, or seeing their loved city become ruins.

I can’t make political comments… I’ve formed opinions, but I know my understanding of the conflict is coloured by the media, limited by the nature of my religious and cultural upbringing, skewed by the knowledge that there are people in my life who are truly afraid for their family and friends in Beirut, and that I have no right to try to make grandiose statements about my beliefs and opinions – which matter little. There are far better writers and bloggers than me who can comment on the politics and intrinsics of this situation.

But I can’t stop thinking of the images that are being delivered to me by the people who are seeing it happen – not the media. One womans mourning of the blue sea turning black because so many cruise ships have arrived. Another woman who is so frustrated because for the first time in her life she’d managed not to kill a plant, it had flourished under her care, but she’d come back from staying with friends to find it, along with everything else she’d owned, bombed. The plant seemed to represent so much. There is the man who managed to get his children out of Beirut and to London. Another comments that everyone is getting fat, because there’s a fear that food would run out, so bingeing is priority. There’s the woman from the Guardian story, who was worried that she might have to leave her friend, who’s recovering from cancer. The young man who says little, other than vividly descriptive and sad poems – instead his photos say more than words can. And the many tales of unmarried couples who are being forcefully seperated, to flee with their families, leaving their partners behind or to flee in different directions. There’s even someone misses the sight of crazy cab-drivers in the streets.

I’ve made a point of reading the blogs of as many different people as possible. And as is the way when you sample huge quantities of other people’s opinions, you find yourself not agreeing with a lot of it. At the end of the day, it’s the personal stories that make it harder for me to keep reading what’s on the web. But it’s those same personal stories that persuade me that I have to – because while there’s a human face on this, people will care.

I know I’m not doing the Lebanese, who are watching their city be destroyed, any justice with my words. This is surely a disjointed post that waffles irrelevantly about not giving an opinion, but how sad and ineffectual I feel. That I need to care, and not let this be just another media novelty this week, then forgotten the next, as is often the way with wars that don’t affect the Western worlds financial needs. I feel frustrated. I’m not alone. I’ve actually tried not to write about this for so long, because it seems so very naval-gazing and ‘Western Imperialist’ to write about how this affects me, when there are people who are losing everything they have, including their lives, who have no say over what’s happening to them. I guess I wish I could tell someone I’m really sorry. I guess I just want to voice something along the lines of “if there’s anything I can do to help…”

*many many apologies for reducing a matter that is seriously affecting many thousands of people, down to how it makes ME feel. Sometimes this blog thing really shoots you in the foot – it compells you to write, to share, to get confused and try to puzzle it all out in a very public way. But it makes you feel like an idiot for writing it, knowing the scorn that is surely to rain down…*

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