Of Exile, Guilt and Messianic Aspirations!

I seem to be on my way back to the spotlight again, at least for a brief spate. I have been quiet for far too long this time, but I am gradually but surely being pulled out again from the doldrums of administrative work to the kind of activism I am more accustomed to and comfortable with.

So, recently there were a couple of quotes and references to me in the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star, and now a short essay of mine (reproduced below) has just appeared in the current issue of Witness Magazine, a prestigious literary endeavor supported in part by the International Institute for Modern Letters with which I am affiliated as a fellow. But I do encourage everyone to support this important endeavor and actually buy the whole issue which contains more than 40 wonderful essays, short stories and poetry collections, written by a group of exiles, or “exilians” to borrow the term of Wole Soyinka unearthed by Chris Amani. Other contributors include suc fitrures as Hasanthika Sirisena, Er Tai Gao, Joan I. Siegel, and Fernando Garavito.

This is my essay: Of Exile, Guilt and Messianic Aspirations.

 

10 thoughts on “Of Exile, Guilt and Messianic Aspirations!

  1. A moving piece. Those who choose the way of the liberals in our part of the world face exile, be it political or most importantly social/cultural. You seize to fit into the mold, yet it’s also tough to fit into the mold in the country of “exile”, or the New World, as many might characterize it. And like you said, we struggle to be true to ourselves while trying to find our place back home and in our new home.

  2. This is deep. To be so self-honest must have been very draining. I am honored that you choose to share your soul with us.the whole point of messianic aspirations is to be able to belong somewhere, at some point in time, somehow, to something that you can believe in, because you have built it yourself.In this respect, both the sociopolitical liberals and the religious and nationalist radicals are the same.What if you managed to displace Asad from his throne? Could you accept being kicked out by the ballot box, as American presidents do? Could you accept that the people, who may not share your vision, might want to kick you out? Or if you choose to stay despite losing, which means you will always have to fear others seeking your weaknesses for a chance to become messiahs themselves? I realized the limitations of my messianism: I cannot save the world, at least not at that point, but I can save my family, not to mention myself.Perhaps it is not for us to save the world, but rather for us to enable it to be saved by enabling the people to save themselves without a messiah: through education, democratic party politics, freedom of speech and thought, etc.But that’s rather unsatisfying, isn’t it? Not much room for messiahs that way. Yet the Western Experience has shown that this is the true way to liberate the people, to allow souls to make their own choices – even if we consider them to be bad ones, like wearing bikinis or chadors or changing religion or listening to bad music.I have to be relevant to both worlds, I have to belong to both, I have to breathe my soul into both, and I have to save both, save me from both and save both from me. I have to be a multi-faceted messiah, it seems, to make all this work.So my question is, do you believe in yourself, or in the values you believe will save your people? On the one side is “Saddam”, on the other is “Havel”. If you choose “Saddam”, then you are a messiah and we have seen you must deal with guilt or deny guilt entirely. If you choose Havel, there is disappointment and frustration, yet guilt is replaced by a quiet moral serenity.The choice is yours; the fate is that of your people.

  3. With all due respect to the sincerity of your disposition, I must say Ammar you’re on the wrong path. Talk about messianic aspirations does not go any where in the Arab world! I suggest you try to become more realist. Perehaps it is time to reconsider how far you may go with your hereticism. Is hereticism really necessary to achieve objectives you find dear to your heart?

  4. Although, mostly I liked your posting, expacially when start with a question then create a healthy debate, but in this essay your audiance are the first three years Syrian immigrants or exiled, not me. Sorry, the essay was not to my taste.

  5. Solomon, my liberal messianism makes me more inclined towards the Havel end of the spectrum. I don’t believe in enlightened despotism, I am too liberal for it anyway. So, indeed, I have to go with democracy where it may lead. I can live with frustration and disappointments in this regard. Fares, Welcome back.Moustapha, I cannot help being a heretic – that is the essence of the dilemma. Anonymous (9:09 pm). It’s OK, it is difficult to aim all of one’s post at all the people all the time. Sometimes, you just find yourself having to write something for the interests of a more limited audience.

  6. well, and totally and utterly to ..my taste, i must say..your essay is really really great. Guilt, afflictions, messianic aspirations, conscience, exile, being true to one’s self, betrayal, belonging, dreams, entitlement, inborn cynicism, haunting, desperate attempts at seeding the darkside of the Moon, Envy!, pricking things until they bleed to death, heresies, seeking to breathe our soul into things, the possibility of walking among the giants, desire, fountains of undying hope….oh, man after my own heart, fellow traveler.. internal and external… of the East and West ….really….your words…. what more could I ask for ?

  7. Indeed, Zen, I knew we’re going to click on this. As to how these emotions and motives will play in the political field is anyone guess, of course. I think this is what Solomon was hinting at.

  8. I loved this post , i felt you are talking about my own internal exile , about my own confusion and my contradicted feelings towards my peopleam not heretic but for those who criticize ur hereticism , i would say that against this religious flood you have to be as extreme , that there is no way to confront it with anything less bold than hereticism

Comments are closed.