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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Is Death Penalty the Answer?

I have been very angry lately, following rising crimes news in my country. Horrendous crimes, useless crimes, surreal crimes...
A man killing his own family, a man shooting two men to death over a bad coffee, young people killed with stray bullets fired by angry men, a young man killed coldly after a pursuit over a minor car accident, ...
 The list is too long, and heartbreaking. Crime is on the rise in our country, it's a fact.Violence is on the rise. We are in a vortex. It will end, but we're in the eye of the tornado right now.

Crime is on the rise. And every time it has the same effect: public outrage, social media backlash, and same angry and emotional request: off with their heads! kill them! hang them! free us!
I am convinced in abolition of death penalty. But my conviction, is not forcibly shared by others.
After reading many death penalty requests on my feeds, I decided to do the tough exercise of questioning my convictions (a highly recommended exercise).
What if I was doing what we usually do: only listen to what answers my conviction? What if death penalty really deters crime, sometime? What if my conviction was only based on studies backing abolition? What if public demand to kill was right? When the mass wants something, I have to acknowledge this need too!
I cannot diminish this widespread feeling. I cannot force conviction. Why not double check studies? Why not really listen to the other logic?

And this is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. I found tons of antagonist opinions. I read the pros and cons (especially the latter), I found one study that proved that death penalty deters crime backed up with numbers: each execution decreases 18 crimes... I digged deeper, intrigued. Then I found that this study is widely rejected by experts from all sides due to lack of scientific approach, some personal opinions, and lack of scientific questions not answered. For example, there is no comparison to deterrent effect of life imprisonment, no answers on would be murderers' perception(do they consider death penalty when committing a crime),...

On another side, hundreds of studies and researches done over 3 decades, with proven facts, and clear charts overflow the net, some with charts showing decrease of crimes in States abolishing death penalty, and many proving the following:
Death penalty is not linked to decrease of crimes, as abolition of death penalty is not too. 

In other words, being pro or anti death penalty is a choice, a debatable opinion, using values, beliefs and vision. But facts are there: whether you apply death penalty or not has nothing to do with crime rates. Remains ethics choice : do we value life or death? Do we think every life is precious?
This is why the world is moving towards abolition of death penalty (check map below).
Countries that abolished death penalty are not "simple minded", their crime rates are not affected. It is a political choice, sometimes not popular when a horrific crime is committed, but it is based on facts. 39 countries and US States are still applying death penalty... this did not deter crimes too.

World map of abolitionist countries: 103 total abolition-6 abolitionists for common rights crimes-49 abolitionists de facto(moratorium)-39 applying death penalty

Let's come back to the rising crime rate in Lebanon...
And let's try to answer some tough questions, away from emotions:
-Do we really think that death penalty will stop crimes?(are there proofs)?
-Do we really think it will end the growing frustration leading sometimes to commit crimes?
-Will death penalty end growing drug abuse, sometimes leading to crimes?
-Will death penalty end injustice in our system, a system that jails the least protected and spares the others?
-Will death penalty ensure equality of law enforcement, where we are all under the same roof?
-Will death penalty end the traffic crisis that bring the worst in some of us, sometimes unleashing the beast in some that become killers over a priority?
-Will death penalty end high unemployment rates among youth and all the frustration it brings, leading some to play with death ?
-Will death penalty end random guns ownership used in every silly argument?
-Will death penalty end the regional crisis affecting the core of our society on all levels, leading to unemployment, unpaid bills, poverty, anger, fear...pushing some "ready" minds to kill?
-Will death penalty stop a person with little values, and unstoppable rage, from committing a crime?
-Will death penalty affect the values system we live in leading some to play God?
-Will death penalty lead voters to choose wisely representatives that will deal with everybody equally? And enforce law and justice equally?
-Will death penalty be the trigger to change our jails? and help us create a correctional system rather than a revengeful one?
-Will death penalty become a lesson of anger management?
-Will death penalty eliminate a culture of male dominance accepting honor killing and domestic violent acts?
-Will death penalty help stop the culture of trivializing violence?

These are some the hard facts leading some to become criminals. These are some of the tough issues we need to address to change.
Problems are way too much to be resolved in revengeful acts, like death penalty, despite the fact that it might ease some pain and frustration on the spot. Revenge being a state we go through when feeling overwhelmed with injustice.
And as a mother, I can't but put myself in other parents shoes and ask for revenge when angry... But as this heartbroken lady said about the crime committed against her nephew:"would hanging the criminal bring back our son?" I come back to my senses, take a deep breath, and check twice.

We elaborated justice systems to stop our revenge urge out of anger, because we learned how devastating it can be.
Justice is cold blooded, calm, and thoughtful. It serves the mass, the common needs. It stops rage, it ends fear. Justice believes in humanity, in change, in correction.

Despite my anger, I am more than ever convinced of uselessness of death penalty as a tool to deter crime. But I know that deterring crime away from death penalty is a long process that takes energy and engagement, something many prefer not to do. Instead, they just ask for revenge: off with their heads.
Anger is a strong and dramatic feeling. It is triggered by fear, by sadness, it eats our souls. It seeks revenge to take control over what triggered it.
It is understandable, but dangerous if let alone and not questioned to see what is hiding below. I wish we always understand what lies beneath anger and rage. What we might find can lead us to think in a constructive way...

Monday, April 10, 2017

If I was that child...

Dear World,
Dear Killer,

Hope my postmortem letter finds you well along with your family, children, and beloved ones.

    My name is Ahmad, or Maryam, or Aylan, or Morcos,  or Aya, or Yasmina... you can give me any name now, since I left this world. I am that kid you raped, tortured, gassed, drowned, killed.

    I did not choose to come to this world. I was just "born". I quickly noticed that I was protected and loved by people around me. I wasn't alone, all kids around me were cherished and protected. I loved being here.

    Until the day you decided I wasn't important. The day you decided to kill me.
I keep telling myself you were surely fighting for a good cause. No one starts killing just for the pleasure of it. You kill because you are defending your values...
See, this is something that surpasses my understanding. How can you kill me to justify your right? How can you kill me for power and not blink?
Gassed twins-Khan Sheykhun-Syria, in daddy's arms

    I was asleep when you gassed me. I woke up choking. It was so hard to inhale or exhale. Everything became blurry, I was shivering, convulsing, vomiting, peeing. It took long minutes before I was relieved.
When I stopped fighting to breathe and live...
Can you try to hold your breath for me? try it until it suffocates you, until you feel you can't bear it anymore. My suffering started after that ugly feeling you're experiencing... So now you can imagine how I felt...

The youngest victim of deadly Palm Sunday in Egypt
    I was celebrating Palm Sunday when you shredded my tiny body into pieces. I was wearing my new clothes and carrying my candle. A long awaited celebration. I saw you walking the isle heading towards me. I smiled, but you did not return the smile. You had empty eyes and a closed face. I didn't have enough time to try smiling again... You disappeared in a big ball of fire taking me with you...
    I didn't know hatred and death had a human face. I was relieved so fast I forgot I had no body anymore...

    I was in the shelter, with no water, no electricity, no food, no play. But alive with my parents and family. Every time I tried to sneak out to play I was pulled back either by my mom, or by the bombing sounds. But it was okay, I trusted grown ups around me to protect me. Until the day I suddenly swallowed dust. It was all white concrete around me, and my body fell under something heavy. It took long minutes of unbearable pain, of desperate seeking for breath before I was relieved.
    Try to put a wall on your chest and face for a minute, sprinkle your face with dust...
Imagine how it feels... just try to imagine. Now you can have a glimpse of what I went through.

Suicide bombers children with their father-Damascus
   I was just playing with my sister when you told us we must die to help your cause. We trusted you as our father, so we let you wrap us with a bomb and give us instructions to go to the police station pretending we lost our parents. We both hugged you and mom and went. But once there we wanted to pee. You pressed the button then... We were everywhere on the toilet walls... or were no more... But I still don't understand why you let us go, daddy.

Aylan Kurdi alive
    I was on a makeshift boat on my mother's lap. Daddy told me we were going to live in a beautiful land, where I would never be afraid anymore. Where I would go to a beautiful school. The water was deep, cold and scary. Suddenly I slipped from their hands, and fell like everybody in the cold water. I didn't know what to do. I saw my father try to grab me, but I slipped. I started swallowing salty water. Even coughing was impossible. I fought as much as I could, but I couldn't breathe.
    All I wanted was to breathe! I could see the sky above become blurry and disappear...
 It took long minutes of unbearable pain before I was relieved.

    I thought my death would make you stop. Apologize. Empathize.
Aylan asleep
I thought by seeing my suffering you would feel such a pain that you'd say: wow stop stop stop! this is madness.  We have to find   another way.
 I thought by seeing my death live on your screen you'd be so  moved, you'd say: sorry.

You were supposed to protect me.
You were supposed to spare my life.
You were supposed to think of me when fighting for your reasons.
You were supposed to wake up from the madness when watching me die.
You were supposed to save me.

    What if I was your child? Would you kill me?
But I am your child. I am in my humanity. How could you kill your child like you did to me and not even blink? Not even be sorry? Not even stop!?

Was I supposed to grow up and become like you? Merciless? Heartless? Hateful? Angry?
Was I supposed to grow up believing that killing innocents is just "collateral damage" in wars?
Was I supposed to grow up killing in the name of a so-called value? What value is worth killing?
Was I supposed to grow up to become YOU?

    I didn't choose to live. I didn't choose to die too.  I just wasn't ready to die yet.
I wanted to live, to hug my mother, to play. I wanted to dream.
You stole everything from me. You watched me die and you moved on.

Who are you going to kill tomorrow World? Who is next on your death penalty list?
Every time you killed me I thought my death will be your wake-up call...
And every time you failed my expectations...

    I have nothing to say to you anymore. And I don't expect you to be moved by words, when broken lives won't even reach your heart.

I wish you mindfulness.
I wish you love.
I wish you inner peace.
I wish you innocence.
...Without me...

                                                                                           Not yours truly anymore,
                                                                                           Every killed child

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to debunk a manipulator

They are everywhere. You might be working with one, a friend of one, living with one, or one yourself... They are categorized among "toxic people" which include narcissistic, controlling, abusive, extremely critical... They are usually hard to detect, because they have elaborated a highly complex attitude and approach. 
To set the records right, we all act as one somewhere in our lives. But some of us become manipulators for life, in all kinds of relationships.
It takes years to know you are dealing with one, unless you've had previous encounters, and elaborated clever detectors.

    The reasons behind a manipulative acting person are numerous, highly complex and belong to the personal psychological history and approach, which isn't my specialty, and not the subject of this article.

N.B. Throughout this read, keep this in mind: we are not therapists. We are barely regular human beings trying to have normal and healthy relationships. I say this because I know whoever is living with a manipulative person tends to play the role of the therapist at a certain point. Wrong, wrong.

My first advice to you if you meet a manipulator would be: RUN! Run while you can as far as you can! For your sanity, and your well being: RUN!

But we both know, keeping distance is sometimes a luxury you cannot afford. When your parent, your spouse, your companion or your boss is manipulative, running away is not an easy option. 
So you stick there, you fight your day-to-day relationship, you are eaten alive, you smooth edges, you cultivate guilt, shame, hope, despair... you live on a roller coaster of emotions. 

Soon you find yourself abused, numb, desperate and captive of this vortex, where there is no way out.
It gets on your well-being, your mood, your mental health, your physical health, your friendships, your relationships outside the spiral.

You become the perfect victim. Every manipulator's dream.
And you believe you are only the victim. While truth is, according to experts and specialists, you also play a role in this vortex.

But before getting there, how to debunk a manipulator while you still can?

1-How they appear in the beginning of a relationship:

Manipulative people are VERY attractive in public. Great speakers, charming and friendly. They might be the center of discussion, they have a lot of acquaintances they call friends. They are social, talkative.
They might be over caring. They might shower you with gifts. Heck they might also seem selfless and helpful!
At the beginning of any relationship, they might be kind enough to praise you in public: "you are awesome! You're exceptional!". Not after a while. Every sweet word must come with a rude underlying or open one. 

Does this mean one has to suspect all kind-looking people? Surely no. But keeping an open eye is never wrong.

A friend once told me about her partner reply to a person who complimented her :"Yes, she rocks over her 50's." The startling underlying rudeness is that she is 45.

What to do?
-If you are good in depicting and reading eyes, always focus on them when looking at a person you suspect of being manipulative. The eyes are mirrors of the soul. Do you feel like the eyes are not truly reflecting the sweet words you hear? Do you see sparkling eyes, or just focused glass like ones?

-Do not offer them the free gift of showing your weakness! They are skilled at using it against you. Show your strong side. Protect yourself.

2-How do they manipulate?

First, remember: we all manipulate somehow to meet our needs. Because we are afraid of not meeting them if asked openly sometimes.  
But here, we are talking about manipulation on the next level, that include shaming, aggressivity, discussions always turned against you, feeling that real cause of conflict has never been addressed, rather turned and put aside... We are talking about a passive aggressive attitude making you responsible or ridicule all the time.
According to researchers, therapists and experts, manipulators are masters in the following:

-They make you do things you don't want to. Example: pressure you to have sex using all imaginable reasons. Or drag you on your holiday to the office. Or make you work overtime without any intention to pay you (usually it is always your fault, or responsibility for the extra work you "must" do). And you do it because you are ashamed, or pushed to feel guilty, or don't want to sound do it for any reason they push you to believe.

-They convince you to take a part of yourself in order to serve their self-centered interests.

A friend was manipulated to leave her professional life, bribed with a steady income, pushed to leave all her friends and focus on her partner's needs, for years. Until one day, he left the house and filed for divorce. One thing he said she will never forget: " I will make you starve". 
-They show no interest in your feelings, emotions and needs. They are self centered, and lack empathy. If you need a clarification, they will make fun of you. If you suffer emotionally they will minimize the cause putting the blame on you, because you are the reason for anything bad.

-Once they succeed taking advantage of you, they will repeat it over and over again.

-They are skilled at knowing to what extent they push the limit. Just enough to keep you there, not totally broken.

-They are skilled at making you feel guilty. Even when you act according to your values (because your values don't matter to them).

-No matter how hard you try to explain what you think is a misunderstanding, a manipulator will always bring you back to his assumptions, even if they are wrong. Because manipulators are lousy listeners, and want to have the last word.

-They excel at taking responsibility away from them. They are never wrong. you are or the world is.

-They want you to feel sympathetic for them, to get your guard down for further manipulation.

"You still want to marry this girl! You have no mercy on me. You will kill me. You don't care for me. After all the years I spent raising you. You are just a self centered selfish man! I did not raise you like that! What is she doing to you? Do you see how you've changed?"

-They love to play the victim role, to use your empathy against you.

- They fabricate, exaggerate, trivialize or distort the truth, for their own benefit. 

-They snap you when alone, with no witnesses. And they are bullies.

3-How to stop them?

If you can stay away from them, or keep a safe distance, do it.

If not,

Please know your rights! 
And know when they are being violated! 
Know your values, and know when someone is trying to undermine them.
As humans, we all share basic rights we should cherish and value: 
*To be treated with respect
*To set our own priorities
*To say "no" without guilt or regret
*To disagree with respect to different opinions
* to take care of and protect ourselves from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally
*To freely express our feelings and needs 
*To live a Happy Life.

Ask yourself:
-Am I treated with respect?
-Am I the only "giver" in this relationship?
-Is the other person's demands reasonable?
-Am I feeling good in this relationship? 

"I am dreading the moment she gets back from work every day! The whole atmosphere of the house becomes tense. I am not happy around her anymore."
Learn to ask probing questions, 
Or questions that make them think, and cut the aggressive cycle of the moment.

"Are you asking me or ordering me?"
"Can you handle my opinion?"
"I have my word in this too you know, are you willing to listen?"
"And what do I get out of this?"
"Are you manipulating me?" 
"Are you trying to take this discussion somewhere else? Please don't it bugs me." 

Usually, similar questions are like mirrors, they force the manipulator to withdraw.

 Withdrawing  momentarily with an excuse, is also a good response to manipulative situations. If you feel you are pressured in the now to respond to their demand, you can say: "Let me think about it, and I will let you know." Time is always an ally in similar situations, so use it.

Learn to say "NO"
Learning to refuse what you don't feel like doing is learning to communicate constructively. It is also learning leadership. 
By being a leader, you immediately send the message: "I am not your victim".
Ask yourself: do I want to be part of this cycle? If not, then I will not play this game.
Your no does not have to be rude (rudeness triggers manipulators even more). Rather firm.

Reach out.
Reach out for people around you. If you are not sure you are manipulated, ask friends, professionals, family. Tell the situation, and see if they too, feel it is not normal. Try to make tough discussions in front of witnesses, for support, not alone with manipulators, so they won't be able to lie later or manipulate you more. 

Offer help
If you really care about your relationship, you can always try to tell the manipulator he/she is hurting you, and seek help both of you. Go to counselors, to therapists, to a person of trust.
I left this option to the end because it is the toughest one to achieve, since manipulators are usually in denial and do not take responsibility for their acts. But who knows? It might work!

And remember this: The battle some people are fighting is not  with you, rather with themselves.

Recommended read: "In Sheep's clothing, Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People", by George K. Simon Jr.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

One click away from being famous

Every now and then, we get a wannabe star video on our feed, a person dreaming big, with little assets, a cheap video with sexual allegations gone wrong. 
We are triggered, we immediately share our disgust, or our amusement, we tag someone, sometimes write aggressive comments, and after some hundreds and thousands of clicks, without it being our intention, we make a buzz, and make this person a sensation, even in the negative way.

    It never fails. We always fall for the trap. Then,we are puzzled to see them famous, sometimes infamous. 

Our indignation grows, and with it our frustration. 
They take the moment of fame, do more videos, upload replies. 
We share again, becoming more aggressive. 
Their pages get hundreds and thousands of likes. 
Some users get compassionate over the growing hate, and become real likers and followers. 
Give it some time, these same wannabe soon become famous. 
We get bored with them, used to their attitude, and move to a newcomer.
And there is the pattern we inadvertently draw over and over again.


    To answer that question we have to understand why we click in the first place, why do we love social media so much, why do we share so much. What is the psychology behind our glued eyes on those screens.

    Luckily, some studies emerged especially aiming at understanding users to better make profit.

    The New York Times Customer Insight Group conducted a fascinating study, that discovered five key reasons behind our sharing with others:
1-To bring valuable and entertaining contents to others.
2-To define ourselves to others.
3-To grow and nourish our relationships.
4-For self fulfillment.
5-To get the word out about causes, brands...

    If we look closer to those reasons,  we always find a need for connection with others. Because we are social creatures, and by being social, we need to share our emotions: our joy, our fear, our anger, our sadness, our disgust... We feel the urge to share information because whether we admit it or not, we seek connection in all we do.

Sharing is just a natural human behavior, and it is emotional.
Social media answers our emotional needs.

    So our first drive is the need to share and connect. And now it is just a click away. Made easy and quick.

    But on our way to answer a beautiful need (connection and sharing), on our way to be the first to tell our friends about this wannabe, or this new brand, or this info, or this adorable cat, or this weird fact...we rarely check with ourselves before hitting that button.

    As a matter of fact, even in our real life, we rarely check with ourselves before doing many things. We are in such a rush that even mentioning the word "Check" sounds awkward. 
We have been raised not to check with our underlying needs, or underlying needs of others while communicating.

    What I mean by "checking" is, asking simple questions: why do I want to share this content? What is the need I want to fulfill? What is my intent? What effect will it have on others? Am i sure it is true?

Intent is crucial, because we always have an intent. And our intent always has an effect.

    My answer could be: for fun (need: fun), to get attention (need: attention), to inform (need: information, sharing, knowledge), because it is beautiful or uplifting (need: sharing beauty, inspiration), because I am angry (need: empathy, connection, understanding, compassion)...

The same questions could be asked regarding the post I am reading:
Why did they share this content?
What is the need they want to fulfill?
What is their intent?
What is the effect on me? (Am I triggered? angry? frustrated? happy? seeing this?)
Then comes this very important decision:
Do I want to answer their needs? does answering their needs makes me happy? (yes, happy!).

By reading these questions in details here, they sound too much to do before clicking "share" or "retweet". But in fact they take less than a minute if we make them a habit. 

    Let's put that into practice with our wannabe famous individuals with their triggering videos, or Tweets, or Statuses:

"When I see/read this post, I feel angry/triggered/amused... I need connection, harmony, love, understanding...
I wonder what is their need to share something similar. Are they seeking attention? are they seeking stardom? Are they looking for clicks? Do I want to give them that? Do I want to play the role they want me to? Does that make me happy?" (takes less than 30 seconds).

When we get our satisfying answer, we will totally own our effect on our readers and followers, and take responsibility for our action. Be it by sharing, or not.
Because we do have the choice of taking part of the pattern, or not, if we just take a deep breath and those few precious seconds and CHECK our emotions and needs.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nagorno Karabakh, Armenian identity forever

    Suddenly, the world is following Nagorno Karabakh news again. This small land is only seen when soldiers and civilians die. And too many have died already. Too many young lives have been stolen defending their identity and existence. This time, it started with the killing and mutilation of two elderly villagers close to the Azeri borders. It comes after 22 years of ceasefire, and during a troubled period of history, while maps are loudly being revisited and reshaped at least in reports, where old dreams of annexation or independence sound feasible.

    I had the opportunity to visit Nagorno Karabakh and its capital Stepanakert, back in December 1996, as a reporter with MTV Lebanon news department, after the ceasefire with Azerbaijan. We were the first Arab TV and news team to set a foot there.

    I still remember the local visa we got in Yerevan, Capital of Armenia, to enter Nagorno Karabakh. A visa everybody smiled at, knowing it is only a formal procedure. And the long trip of over 14 hours in the Niva mini bus, with our translator, a Syrian-Armenian who moved to his motherland after the independence ; our guide a wonderful soul, history teacher with knowledge to fill an entire encyclopedia, and our lovely and funny driver.
    Fourteen hours trying to cross the only road that sometimes ends on cliffs, because it has been bombed. Several times we found ourselves waiting for the road to be rebuild bit by bit. A road leading to the mountain, up there, where clouds seem to stop and hold their breath. Majestic mountains, and small houses like a broken pearl necklace, small clothes hanging to dry outside, children running safely on deserted roads, giggling and curious to see what the car carries for them.

    Same Armenian local language and accent as Armenia, same tradition, same food, same hospitality as the one we got in Yerevan...with one little difference: here, you step back in time. You feel you're in the early 20th century. Everything takes you back in time: the houses, the streets, the cattle here and there, the colorless clothes like an old picture, the very small number of old Russian cars passing from time to time to break the persistent image of early century.

    Nagorno Karabakh declared president was Robert Kocharian, later to become the second Armenian president in 1998, considered our crew as his guests. We even had our breakfasts and dinners at the government's building. A surreal situation where one feels free to ask for more of the exquisite Armenian Cognac found everywhere on Armenian soil.

    The story of ongoing hurt in this land is due to a decision taken by Staline in 1921, with a pen and a map: he annexed Nagorno karabakh to Azerbaijan, with Armenia annexed to the U.S.S.R. little was the capacity to seek independence. That was until 1988 where massive demonstrations took place in Yerevan asking for recognition and regain of land. Clashes erupted, and lasted until an international ceasefire in 1994.
     Nagorno Karabakh was never an Azeri land. 94% of its residents are Armenian. Its culture, cuisine, history, purely Armenian. The churches, the rocks, the mountains, the cemeteries, all talk about their Armenian legacy.

    The war has left a big scar in the local culture. Thousands of young men and women have lost their lives, churches have been transformed into Azeri weapon arsenals in Chouchi for example, before they were regained again.
    The traditional Armenian Duduk became more melancholic, the Qamancha, or violin took another role on weekends: post-mortem concert in the cemetery for the young lost souls, by the only violin teacher at the local conservatory, as a life engagement and tribute.

    But these people are Armenians: they just dust away the rubles, pay tribute to their victims and martyrs, and rebuild their lives, homes and cult places, with a smile on their faces, and a stubborn will that no one can break. They rebuild Armenia or Karabakh over and over again if they must.

    Chouchi church is a loud example of Armenian spirit... A demolished church, and one old man. He left everything in Yerevan and decided to rebuild it with his bare hands. Soon his story became famous and many joined. I met him, and I know how the church was rebuild even better, and features today on most pictures of Nagorno Karabakh.

    This is Artsakh, Nagorno karabakh, the old DADIK, BABIK (grand-father and grand-mother) statue that sums it up : "We Are Our Mountains"...

 Here are some pictures of our unforgettable encounter with Nagorno Karabakh.

DADIK BABIK : "We are our mountains".

A man crying his son fallen in the battles of Nagorno Karabakh.
Rehabilitating Chouchi church in Nagorno Karabakh (1996).
The sad music of Qamancha (violin) in a silent walking concert at the local cemetery (Stepanakert).
That beautiful smile despite the constant threat (Mountains of Nagorno Karabakh)
Armenian child on the streets of Nagorno Karabakh.
Stepanakert-Nagorno Karabakh.

Among roses, rest young men and women fallen in battles.
Where time stops.
This Stepanakert conservatory teacher took a pledge, to visit the cemetery every Sunday, and play music for each martyr fallen in the battle.
Nagorno Karabakh.

Capturing faces of joy
Interviewing the president of self declared independent state of Nagorno Karabakh, Robert Kocharian
Our beautiful guide.

With Nagorno Karabakh president Robert Kocharian, later to become the second president of Armenia (1998)

Chouchi village. Where memory is only about war.

He left Yerevan, his home, his business, his need to rest at his age...and went to Nagorno Karabakh to rebuild Chouchi Church alone, but not for long. He have been joined by many.

Reporting from Chouchi church. Turned into an arsenal by Azeris. Rehabilitated in 1996 by Armenians.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Religion Notice

(I wish people could get this notice with the religion they choose)


Spiritual form.
Comes in old scriptures, aged hundreds or thousands of years, copied and transmitted in numerous new editions and sizes, or as verbal tradition transmitted through generations, or even as secret tradition.
Composed of texts, stories, myths, saints, messengers, prophets.

Active substance(s)
Each Religion contains:
0,2mg of accuratetine
3,2mg of mysterysisol
4,6mg of extraordinaryoxyde
6,3mg of mysogynyol
10mg of faithadine
8,9mg of vertuenyl
7,7mg of superioritynate
6,9mg of fearasine
8mg of psychologysate
8mg of sociologysate
May contain traces of violencine, lovamol,innerpeacidine.

Religion is indicated for humans in general as an insecure race, self-centered, in need of a higher power to protect, save, help and support.
Also indicated for humans when faced with difficult situations with no answers.
It may be prescribed for humans in need of a potential “responsible” for their acts, condition, behavior, fear…
Religion is ideal for suffering populations. It has already been prescribed to different societies according to their needs throughout history, and gave assurance, inner peace and empathy.
Religion is recommended for suffering individuals, lost souls, humans looking for answers in general. It can sooth souls, calm tensions, bring love and peace.

Religion may be taken at any age (after puberty), any place, at any time of the day.

Religion is contraindicated:
-When humans start taking their own religion as the only truth
-When humans start having the dangerous conviction of purity
-When humans start disrespecting other religions and especially non-believers
-When humans start wars and killings in the name of Religion
-When humans start hallucinating.

If you start feeling you’re becoming a prophet, and you have rights over other humans, if you start feeling it’s okay to eradicate “infidels”, if you start feeling more valuable than other humans because of your Religion®, stop Religion® immediately and ask for help.

Religion® is a VERTICAL relationship between you and your God. It is not Horizontal. He did not make you his spokesperson on earth (if you have this feeling please read contraindications above)
All details related to different traditions, regions, eras, clothing habits, eating habits, praying habits, faith habits, or any difference from what your own Religion tells you, are and will remain there.Religion® is designed to answer different needs.
It is normal to live with other species and beliefs. We call it diversity.
Remember, if you were meant to be all the same, Religion® would have been just one. So relax, enjoy your religion, accept non-religious, accept other religions and live happily.
Remember, Religion® is a soul medicine for many humans. And like any medical product, if not taken properly could have dangerous effects.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mama, maman, mommy, mom?
    Non, je ne suis pas née avec un instinct maternel.
Mes poupées étaient mon champ expérimental. Je les démembrais, je leur découpais leurs bouches, histoire de voir comment elles étaient faites, ou afin de leur balancer le manger que je n'aimais pas!

    Mes jeux préférés étaient cache-cache, "kerchak 3ali ya khali", "botte-sauvé-merci", "finish", les billes, les escapades dans la nature à la recherche d'un trésor... Jouer à maman me donnait la nausée.

    Mes rêves contenaient rarement des bébés. En petite fille je me voyais sur un avion, découvrant le monde, sur une scène, jouant Molière, à Hollywood, recevant mon Oscar et répétant mon discours tellement préparé! Mes rêves étaient de devenir directrice de je ne sais quoi, de découvrir des cures, de construire un hôtel en forme de dinausaure, de créer la paix dans le monde...

    Devenir mère ne formait pas l'appothéose de mes rêves. Trouver l'amour par contre oui. Les enfants étaient là parfois, car je les aime, mais je ne me voyais pas en maman au quotidien.

    Mes rêves de petite fille sont toujours là. J'en ai réalisé certains, à une échelle toute petite...

    J'ai rencontré l'amour plusieurs fois. Je me suis cassé la gueule, je me suis créé des souvenirs, une histoire.
En chemin, j'ai réalisé que j'ai envie d'être mère aussi...
Je me fichais bien de les concevoir moi-même. (Un de mes rêves les plus communs -et rares- me voyais réveillée pour découvrir un couffin avec un superbe bébé à ma porte!) Adopter c'est aussi devenir parent.

    Un jour, je me suis retrouvée avec une créature vivante dans mon sein... La joie, la trouille. Je vais devenir mère! waou! ciel! On va jouer à papa maman pour de vrai? Tout le monde dit que la vie change, pour toujours. Dois-je prendre cela positivement ou négativement? Les parents sont tellement difficiles à dépister.

    Je l'ai fait! 3 fois! en 3 ans et demie! Sans arrêt et sans plans. Je voulais 3 enfants, je rêvais de deux garçons et une fille, ils sont là.
Merde! ils sont là pour le restant de ma vie???? C'est-à-dire que je ne peux plus dire:"ça y est, j'ai plus envie"???? Il n'y a pas de marche arrière???

Non, je ne suis pas née avec un instinct maternel! Mon instinct se construit chaque jour.
Non, mon rêve n'était pas de passer des nuits agitées ou sans sommeil, à l'écoute d'une respiration régulière.
Non, mon rêve n'était pas de passer des centaines d'heures dans des parcs pouilleux à voir ma progéniture glisser joyeusement sur les tobogans en hurlant: "Mam, regarde!"
Non, mon rêve n'était pas de changer des couches, de préparer du manger sain, de mesurer la fièvre, d'aller chez le pédiatre, de retenir les dates de vaccin.
Non, mon rêve n'était pas de passer de longs après-midis dans des anniversaires bruyants avec animatrices et clowns, à raconter les histoires de mamans et pépins insensés.
Mon rêve n'était pas de passer 9 mois par an, cinq jours sur sept à aider dans les devoirs, re-étudier la grammaire, la qaw3ed, le i3rab, la reproduction sexuée des plantes, ni de faire des projets de classe, ni de faire le médiateur entre mes enfants, leurs amis, leurs maîtresses...
Mon rêve n'était pas de regarder pendant des heures Barney, Dora, Teletubbies, Violetta, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon...

Oui! parfois j'en ai marre.
Oui, parfois j'ai envie de tout foutre en l'air.
Oui, parfois j'ai envie de me barrer.
Oui, parfois je sors de mes gonds. Je bave.
Oui, parfois j'ai envie de construire cet hôtel en forme de dinausaure, et de réclamer mon Oscar!

Heureusement que ça m'arrive "parfois". Car souvent, c'est une paix intérieure de les voir en bonne santé, grandir et se métamorphoser devant mes yeux.
Je suis épatée de voir ces êtres humains indépendants au quotidien, et de savoir que je suis leur mère.
Avec eux, sans le savoir, j'ai réalisé mon Oscar de meilleure maman à leurs yeux, j'ai voyagé le monde dans les livres et les histoires pour le leur montrer, je leur ai raconté mes voyages et voyagé avec eux, à travers leurs yeux.
Avec eux, j'ai construit des centaines de maisons, d'hôtels, de mondes, de chateaux.
Je suis devenue infirmière, maîtresse, animatrice, chauffeur, cuisinière, inspiratrice... tout en restant dans le monde des adultes et en étant productive et professionelle.

Grâce à eux, je me réveille tous les jours espérant devenir meilleure maman, meilleur être humain.
Grâce à eux, j'ai gardé mon regard d'enfant face au monde.
J'ai envie d'avoir un rôle dans leur vie, j'ai envie de rester ici encore longtemps.
J'ai envie de changer le monde, pour eux.
J'ai envie de me battre, pour eux.
J'ai envie de les voirs adultes. J'ai envie de les regarder encore. J'ai envie de les admirer.

Peut-être c'est cela l'instinct maternel. Se donner à fond pour un autre être humain, se consumer, la joie au cœur.
Avec un bisou, un "je t'adore", "je t'aime". Avec un "merci mam", ils savent qu'ils peuvent tout avoir!

Non, je ne suis pas née maman, je le deviens chaque seconde: ils me l'apprennent en douceur tous les jours.
Enfin, heureusement que je n'ai pas rêvé devenir mère, ainsi, je suis ouverte à leur monde, tout en restant épatée d'avoir joué ne serait-ce qu'un petit rôle dans leur vie! Et heureusement que je ne peux faire marche arrière!