Saturday, December 11, 2010

Out My Window - Comparing Mazen's Life With My Own

By Kim See Wan

There are numerous highrises in the world, and each of them is surrounded by different environments and conditions. Although they may look alike at first glance, regarding the box-like shape and relatively high height, when you look deep inside them, many factors are unique to each building.  The people within  have different feelings regarding their own home, face different circumstances, and experience different hardships and pleasures. In particular, what I see and feel when I look out the window of my own home is very different from what Mazen, a guy who lives in Beirut, Lebanon, sees and feels from his own highrise. In short, I see busy people and feel activeness out my window, whereas Mazen sees demolished buildings and gloominess out his.

Beirut after the attack

A lebanese in despair after Israel's attack
The conflict between Israel and other countries in the Middle East  has continued since the Arab-Israeli wars, due to the factors regarding the lands and the differences in their religions. This tension eventually broke out when Israel attacked Lebanon for Lebanon’s kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Due to this attack, hundreds of Lebanon citizens died, and many buildings and social infrastructures such as bridges were demolished. Moreover, the tension between Israel and Lebanon is still ongoing. According to “Alliwah”, a daily newspaper in Lebanon, an Israeli army representative asserted last August that if there is any conflict occurring between Lebanon and Israel that involves casualties, then Isreal will demolish every military infrastructure within 4 hours. As a result, citizens living in Beirut started to look at their own city through two contrasting emotions: love and hate.

They loved Beirut because it was the city they were born and raised within; nonetheless, they also hated their city because it was constantly under danger and took away many precious things from them, such as schools, houses, or even family members. Outside the window of Mazen’s highrise, you can see eradicated buildings and bridges, some of them being rebuilt. These buildings remind Mazen of a day when the city was bombed, a day in which he stood on his balcony and witnessed many familiar buildings powerlessly collapsing under Israel’s attack. All his memories, both good and bad, disappeared with a couple of bombs that the Israeli army dropped. Indulged in sad reminiscence, Mazen sometimes emulates the sound of the bombing, the sound that he heard on the very day of the attack, with instruments. The memory is so horrible to him and many others living in Beirut, that the city itself sometimes seems to be soaked in sadness and depression.   Witnessing this world through a computer, I feel lucky to be where I am.
The first word that comes to my mind when I think of my home is “happiness.” All the memories of my childhood are embedded in my home. I remember playing badminton with my parents at the playground, and I remember the birthday parties my parents planned for me. Unlike that of Mazen’s, the relationship between me and my own home is not the complication of love and hate; rather, it is a simple one-sided love. Instead of demolished, abandoned buildings, I see new highrises constantly constructed, and people busily walking around the roads. Moreover, Seoul is becoming more and more important globally, and even held the G20 conference last month.  According to the Choong Ang Daily, the media center that was used for the G20 conference is considered the biggest media center ever in size. Thus, many events are constantly changing the city for the better.  There are not many chances to feel depression. I see agility, activeness, and business out my window. Mazen’s experience and my own experience are very much different in that sense.

Houses burning during the Yeon Pyeong Island attack
Nonetheless, there are also some familiarities between my highrise and Mazen’s highrise in Beirut. Although Seoul and Beirut are two completely different cities in completely different location, Seoul also has a danger lying behind it. South Korea and North Korea have been divided apart for more than fifty years, going through wars, conflicts, battles, and peace treaties during the time. Granted, there was not a direct attack in Seoul just like there was an attack in Beirut from Israel. However, the conflict between South Korea and North Korea has been increasing greatly recently, especially after the Cheonan incident and the recent Yeon Pyeong Island attack.  To add, the current unstable condition in North Korea with Kim Jung Il transferring power to his son, Kim Jung Eun, is causing great tension all over the world. Although I have never worried about such things that Beirut experienced, it is true that we have much in common, more than I am aware of.   There are, in fact, missiles pointed directly at my city, and a lot of uncertainty that does not guarantee they will never be used.

global village
Throughout the world, many highrises were built to fulfill the increase in population. Because each of them is a home to somebody, all of them bear some special memories and recollections. In particular, Mazen has memories of Beirut unique to himself, and I also have my memories of Seoul known only to me. Since the conditions are so different, it is easy to think that there is little or nothing in common between the two of us. However, with deeper insight, all of us have at least a little bit of similarity, since the entire world is connected as a “global village.”

1 comment:

  1. Excellent essay See Wan. Very journalistic tone with lots of mature insights. On top of that - glad to see you've made it fresh and immediate contrasting the ongoing situation with North Korea. Interesting comparison. - Mr. Garrioch