Lebanon: Incendies

I had only recently watched this movie as per recommendation, as it is one of the few and rare that mention the violence and bloodshed of the infamous Lebanese civil war. Developed in the nation of Canada and written by Denis Villeneuve and Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies depicts the story of a young woman and her time during this crisis. I found it both fascinating and heartbreaking to watch these events, as to some that may be seeing a foreign land in war, I saw places I am quite familiar with.

The war itself is considered a near taboo subject to mention, but is it from sadness or fear? It seems to be more allocated towards fear, as older generations still seem to hold on to the fear of the past…a fear that something harmful may happen to them. A line stated in the film was “Sometimes, it is better not to know”, perhaps the best definition of this phenomenon. The war is over, and yet the events are felt till now, a constant reverberation echoing on to the next generations. There seems to always be this belief that war is coming…as if a constant omen over the masses, forever inbred in their lives.

What could have been, I wonder, or even..what once was. I doubt the Lebanon I see today is the same place it once was before this toxic event eroded it away. I have my grandparents and even my parents tell me of days back when things were far better, when Lebanon was considered the glowing location of progress and integration, when other nations would look to Lebanon in envy of its people and land. I cant seem to imagine that.

My grandmother told me a story of when my father one day came back from school and asked her an odd question. He asked “Mom, what’s a Shiite and Sunna?”. Perplexed at the need to ask such a question myself, she explained to me that back then, the differences were barely seen, if even considered, and we were all just Muslim. I look to Lebanon today and see how far this divide has become, with each child knowing from youth what ‘sect’ they are part of, and the many divides between their own and others.

An estimate of more than 100,000 were killed, and another 100,000 left handicapped. There was also a mass exodus of around 1 million people from Lebanon, because of this war. Till today, there are still thousands of individuals missing whose circumstances are unknown. There were so many lives gone and futures lost, and yet I wonder…for those that survived, were they better for it? It seems a long lasting habit of mistrust was forever breed from those days. A hate lingering within for those seen as ‘not of us’. Can a nation truly heal after an event like this…or has it forever been crippled?

For those interested, I recommend watching this movie, if you would like a glimpse into Lebanon’s past. Admittedly the ending is quite….unexpected, but I’d rather focus on the events and crisis taking place.





14 thoughts on “Lebanon: Incendies

  1. This article is very powerful. I definitely feel that I would have to watch the movie to better understand the situation, but even then, I can’t imagine actually living through it, or even living the life of it’s after math. I hope one day Lebanon can flourish once again. Do you feel that it is possible in the near future? or even the far future? Do you have hope that your people will one day no longer live in fear?

    1. I cant say for certain it can. It seems like whenever we attempt a step forward, we always take two steps back. I hope that one day Lebanon could find peace, but for now it seems we only see enemies all around.

  2. This was a very inspiring article! I definitely want to see the movie and learn more about the Lebanese Civil War. I have many friends with Lebanese heritage and I wonder if this exodus was when many of their families came to America. I guess my question to you is, how do you think Lebanon, if it is possible, move forward in a peaceful and inclusive way? To return to a time of cultural understanding and peace.

    1. In truth, the thought seems almost alien to consider. I cannot say that Lebanon can return to what it once was, because in truth nothing can turn back to what it was, because change influences us all. The Lebanon of the past was not influenced by all the events the Lebanon of today is. Could it possible to become a place of cultural understanding? Perhaps, but while the constant division and sects continue to govern and sway the progress of the nation, I find it hard to believe.

      Edit: But that isnt to say that there is no hope. Through interaction and observation, I find that the newer generations of Lebanon seem to be becoming more understanding and accepting. I thankfully see less of an attitude of zealously following sect leaders, and more of a care of self-worth and advancement. A small hope, but even a spark can become a bonfire.

      1. I agree with you and hope your country continues to grow towards cultural understanding. I look forward to reading more of your blogs! 🙂

  3. I honestly never even knew there was a civil war in Lebanon, it just goes to show how little some people know about global history and current global issues. Do you agree with the line “sometimes it is better not to know”? I also really like what you said in your last reply about how nothing can turn back to what it was. I feel the same way, we are all growing and moving ahead and cannot return to the past so we must continue forward.

  4. This was a very interesting post! Incendies sounds very intense.. and a movie that I would like to see. As I know very little about this civil war, this movie would be a good place for me to start learning. It’s interesting to me how film can be not just entertaining but also used for education, to help tell a story that some may not know.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I never realized that Lebanon had a civil war which makes me realized how uneducated I am about the world around me. When you wrote that “There is always a belief that war is coming,” it makes me feel sad for those people who believe that. There is so much more to think about and look forward to in life.

  6. As I’m sure you know already, there once was a civil war in America and some may argue that it never really ended. However, growing up as an American youth I never really experienced the direct effects of war, nor did really think about the affect war can have on other peoples lives. That is what made your post so interesting to me– a firsthand account of what life would be like if war were in our back yards. In what other ways has war affected your life?

    1. Generally my whole life has been influenced by war. I believe the first encounter I had with warfare was in 2006 when I was still in middle-school and the assassination of the prime minister rocked the country..not to mention a block of the capital in ruins. I’ll soon be posting up the essay I submitted for my intercultural course about eastern vs western life, perhaps that would enlighten more about the differences.

      If you wish to know more about the assassination, there is a Wikipedia page about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafic_Hariri

  7. Thank you for sharing such an authentic post. I recently read the ‘If Lebanon Was A Person’ blog post and both of these are so powerful. From an American standpoint, it’s inciting to see how each of you use your personal experiences and insight to describe and portray Lebanon. Although these two posts refer to different contexts, your passion and hope for Lebanon is evident in both. The explanation of why this event is nearly a taboo also helped me to better understand some of the implications this war has had on Lebanon today. You made a comment about how things can never go back to the way they were before, however, sometimes in the end things turn out even better (with a lot of time and work). I like how you addressed this in one of your comment responses, that there is a spark of hope with this current generation. And I hope that spark really does become a bonfire!

    1. Thank you for your comment clarindalyons. We are rather passionate about our small country. At times it seems a bit funny how such a small place can have so many problems. I do hope it becomes better as well.

  8. Towards the beginning of this post “sometimes it is better to not know” was stated. I was just wondering how you personally feel about that. This seems like a raw and realistic movie that I might watch over the course of our break. Thank you for the suggestion. I also believe that time will tell in regards to its future.

    1. mmm, a difficult question. I do believe in the concept that “Ignorance is bliss”, in that sometimes being out of the conflict is much more desirable than being part of the chaos. Truth definitely goes a long way and I think finally coming to terms with the brutality of the past and accepting it might help in the healing process.

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