45 words for Love

While a caravan of impressions in Jordan finds its way through the mountains I close my eyes seeing so many signs of love and hope. A man is holding the hand of his son nurturing him with confidence, warmth and presence meanwhile doing his work talking to his colleagues. An older sister is helping her little brother to cross the road her arm swings loosely around his shoulders. Volunteers in and around the refugees camps are working around the clock to support. A mother is nursing her newborn child. While climbing the steep and challenging Wadi Mujib complete strangers are helping each other to find a safe way going up or down the fast moving river with waterfalls and slippery rocks, giving directions being there for each other holding hands supporting feet where necessary.
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At the same time the world holds its breath while the entrancing media war and chemical attacks in Syria continue. The voice of Russia announced that the chemical weapons have been produced by the Syrian rebels showing evidence that the chemicals and masks bear the text: ‘Made in the USA and made in Saudi Arabia.’ Britain is planning to join forces with the US and launch military action. We are on the verge of a western intervention in Syria, it is all very scary. Like so many I keep asking myself: Who is profiting from this?

Bitter tweets of journalists fly around the world as waking up calls: ‘The West is supporting Mujahidin and Al Qaeda in Syria, just like the war in Afghanistan in the ’80. The main reason then was defying Russia, now it is all about Iran.’ A newly published book of Ian Black explains how Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies have used sectarianism to try to escape the changes sweeping the region. This direct military intervention will bring most probably more pain and suffering into the region with a destabilizing effect.

The opinion of the day here in Jordan is that: ‘The Police of the world should act.’ Russia and the US should use their power wisely to bring the different parties to the negotiating table setting their own interests aside in the interest of the Syrian people.
Yet the opposite is happening. A policy of scorched earth: Divide and rule.

With the disheartening developments of more war being announced we would be almost enticed to forget the present and powerful sources of resilience. We do need to keep watering these seeds of joy now more than ever. Writers, artists, poets, photographers, musicians, mothers, fathers and children not only shed light on these matters but also continue to find courage and trust to keep going. Working together in one direction in order to – as the Syrian artist of Top Goon expressed it- ‘Deal with everything that is scary through laughter, beauty and human resolve.’

Sitting in the front of a car distributing goods to support the Syrian Refugees listening to a Syrian friend singing a revolutionary song and a tribute to Homs: ‘Jannah Jannah, Paradise, Paradise: talking about the homeland.’ His eyes are lustrous but sad. During one of the visits to the families in Zaatari refugee camp a Syrian takes out his mobile showing a film with local musician from Palmyra. The refugees dream off for just one moment as soon as they hear the weeping sounds of the rababa, the desert violin reaching their core. The soft and ruffling drums of the durbakeh help them to connect to their identity their culture. Or as a Syrian musician called it: ‘A song can be like an atomic bomb,’ the music and words unite the collective energy lifting the heart and enlighten.

The stairs of love are many I discover listening to an Iraqi friend and poet.Walking through the center of Amman the wind is blowing a hair into my face his hand removes the hair tenderly and he says: ‘In the West you have the sexual revolution, but in the East we have the Art of Love. Did you know that we have 45 words for love? Al Maqaam al A’ashq, the rhythms of love.’ In every culture things that are most important have many words in order to describe the different subtleties. Just like the Inuit have 45 words for different kinds of snow and the Dutch have 45 words for ‘polderen’- to deliberate.

There are different kinds of love starting from a broader meaning moving towards the more subtle layers. Love for your family and friends, love for nature, love that arises when you create music or a painting expressing inner feelings to a deeper love coming from a connection of souls. Again this fact, those 45 words for love are a source to tap into for the Arabic people right now and surely for all of us.

Talking to the Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Palestinians here in Jordan hope is flowing through their heart when they talk about their culture, the Enigma of Syria , share stories about their successes, their dreams, music and art. Let’s register the movements of war without forgetting to take ourselves seriously and affirm the positive regaining courage. Just realize the potential power of Bryant McGills’ quote: ‘Those who look through the lens of love are the true visionaries.’

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