I may not know how to draw but I do know very well that I love to draw. I particularly love the deep sense of tranquility that I delve into every time I hold a pencil and try to put my whole world onto this small piece of paper. Whether what ends up on this paper is anger from a particular political situation, some scrambled lines that show a deep sadness from the cruelty that I see every day, or whether it is a love story or a story of childhood dreams coming true – the result are beyond the paper itself, a profound peace of mind like no other.
However for the past few weeks, I have more than ever felt compelled to draw – but this time it’s different.
This time the paper and the pencil do not seem suffice to portray all the turmoil inside of me; this time I do not end with peace, but rather more lost. This time I am worried about the culture that we are turning into, I am worried about the senseless beings wandering aimlessly around us, I am worried that a picture of a singer’s scandal shakes us more than a picture of a massacre of real men and women does.
As I draw I try my ultimate best to portray terms with a pragmatic meaning, depicting both the theory and the practice, but when these two become conspicuously divergent, my task becomes all the more challenging. In recent times, political terminology has become over-used and sometimes abused. You hear people speaking of the right to democracy as an abstract term, not identifying the myriad of shades that lie within it. You hear demands for economic development, as if this is a process ensured through a bunch of policies forgetting that the individual lies at the very center of it.
I try to draw democracy.
I start with people voting and asserting their rights. Then it strikes me that people are being possessed with an overarching ideology that a leader transmits, that they are held by their throats to be able to survive financially, that they have to rebel and kill and watch their children get killed to be heard.
I try to draw a nation, a government, a political order, a land… and I fail again because I cannot depict the famine that our Arab world is witnessing, the murder, the torture and at the same time, at the other end simultaneously people not showing one sense of empathy or even the slightest human concern. And because I am convinced that drawing is an illustration of my view towards humanity and life, I refuse to draw anything but that. In each time I end up with a blank paper, and incomparable anger.
What makes you angry world? What makes you want to spend days and nights working?
What makes want to fight?
Or are you so used to a sense of inferiority that you no longer give it another thought. You became utterly convinced that you cannot change, and that seeing people die is part of life or of a bigger political game, a natural sacrifice for the fight of power and money. The problem here is that we lack identity; we lack a sense of belonging not to a land but rather to humanity. We speak about humanity in abstract terms as if we know what we are talking about. However we do not belong to it. We belong to an ideal we set for ourselves from the moment we become aware of our being, and anything besides this ideal is outside our circle of concern.
We are no longer crashed not even moved when the countries around us with their people and their dreams are crushed in one missile.
I tried to draw anger, I looked closely into what really fills people with rage, and I did not find anything worth noting. Every time you turn your eyes away from a brutal picture of adverse events or every time you refuse to hear the news you are turning away on parts of your own humanity.
I try to draw humanity and all I can fathom are skewed and parallel lines of millions and millions of individuals that would never meet.
I want to draw a revolution, a revolution from within.
At a point here you look at yourself and you cannot identify with you anymore, humanity slipped away through a culture that has taught us to ignore and accept.
We forgot how our self leapt for the first time we saw a beggar on the road – that was long ago when we were children, back when we were not contaminated yet.
I will draw.
A million hidden stories on the curves of the lips reaching the threshold of fear and insecurity. These are stories of belonging, of love, of concern, of failure, of sadness.
Together they are the masses of my revolution. And I will draw sharpness in the eyes, one that made us neglect the fundamentals of this life. Revolution softens – they will soften. And I will draw all the contradicting terminologies, all the images of suffering, on the cheeks, stepping on them with anger and rage never seen before, until the cheeks restore the redness that had long faded away into pale identical individuals.
And the mouth will be open. Yelling and screaming against corruption, against fear, against brutality, against silence. Yelling and screaming until the skin can bear no more, until the skin cracks open into star constellations, into dust from the moon, into fire and glow and love, into stars, tiny little stars.
Until the heart says I found home.
By Diala ElMasri, a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East.