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Hop on That Train! Or You Shall Age in Darkness - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Opinion

Hop on That Train! Or You Shall Age in Darkness

A vendor moves from one train to another at a railway station in Kolkata

You’d better not go into your ancestors’ attic if you get suddenly sick. The medicine you would find there expired long time ago. Diseases are as much complicated as their treatment.

Let your ancestors rest peacefully. Don’t live under the illusion that you have to visit them every day to show your gratitude and loyalty, and to prove that you are a true copy of them. Don’t live under the illusion that they speak through you and that you carry their wings.

I don’t mean that you have to repudiate them, renounce your roots or regard them as a burden. In your present time and place, you can prove your utmost loyalty to your ancestors by being truthful to your children and grandchildren.

Don’t surrender to the echoes of caverns of past centuries. Echoes of frightened souls and sounds of daggers… echoes of ethnic, confessional and sectarian wars…

Don’t be fascinated by victories based on marginalization, elimination and forced displacement…

Tame that monster crouching in your heart. Don’t engage in wars that bring only destruction, funerals and poverty. Don’t waste your life crying over the beautiful old days.

Bemoaning Beirut, as a pioneer city and a model of coexistence, is worthless.

Tears you shed on the Umayyad Caliphate will not feed the Syrians facing starvation and displacement on the edge of a humanitarian abyss.

Mourning the capital of the Abbasids will not restore hope for Iraqis, who are looking aghast upon their nation, while it sways from a chasm to another, from the scourges of a despot to the ravages of young oppressors.

Don’t waste your time libeling the ‘colonel’ and his era. The past is already gone.

Loyalty to your ancestors can be best fulfilled when you are truthful to your grandsons.

The story is simple, yet decisive. The modern era is calling. Don’t run away, you have to answer the call. Don’t shut the door to the future.

Don’t age in darkness.

The new era is calling you. Take a look at the phone in your pocket. Here you can find all the news about our global village: successive revolutions, politicians’ views and experts’ contact details, photos of explosions and budget figures, poems by Al-Mutanabbi and achievements in the robotics industry…

Don’t live under the illusion that all of these revolutions do not concern you. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that you can enjoy the harvests of this progress without changing your approach, your thoughts and your choices… Lingering in the world of failures if a suicidal behavior par excellence.

We don’t exaggerate when we say that drowning in the world of failures is even viler than “ISIS” and worse than all epidemics. It is in this world that such phenomena and diseases are developed and justified.

Failure to build a modern school… to establish a forward-thinking university… failure to build strong institutions… to keep apace with technological revolutions… and to get out of the dungeons of trepidation… Fearing that the wind of change will sweep away your identity and peace of mind.

The new era is calling you… new wars are being waged… wars against poverty and ignorance. To engage in these wars, you must change, learn and adapt. If you fail to contribute to building this new era, it might turn against you; you might become its victim.

The train will certainly pass. You shall be ready. You must identify the new leaders: the leaders of progress and innovation. You are in fact a citizen of the global village, a citizen of the “Facebook” continent, which is home to nearly two billion members.

You’d better skim through the famous quotes of “Facebook leader” and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, about the network’s major goals.

“Our greatest opportunities are now global — spreading prosperity and freedom, promoting peace and understanding, lifting people out of poverty, and accelerating science,” he said.

The train will pass, no matter how long it takes. To hop on it, you must pay for the ticket.

I understand the charm of the old language, the fear to review inherited convictions, feelings of disruption that might haunt you.

But you’d better hop on that train before it’s too late. Your country should do the same.

Past and present wars should not prevent you from engaging in the battles of the future.
These are fresh wars led by new leaders. Wars, which are fought with numbers and not with illusions…

You have no choice but to hop on the train.

Just like you, I am fascinated by the silkiness of past memories, by the land of my ancestors, by the poems of Al-Mutanabbi and the magical stories of Baghdad.

But hopping on the train is our only choice.

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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