By Nour Hamed
At the moment I live in Williamsburg, Virginia (USA), a beautiful city that is always quiet and where nothing unusual ever happens. I have been here for six months and I have to admit that it feels really good to live normally – without daily explosions or security threats, where people discuss food and celebrities instead of terrorism and death, and where people are still hopeful and look forward for tomorrow.
Although I know I should enjoy this life, I find it difficult. I check the news first thing in the morning and it has never been good. If it’s not explosions or terror attacks, it is the inhumane living conditions of three million internally displaced Iraqis. Yes, you read that right, three million people are out of their homes living under unbearable conditions with no end in sight for their suffering. It breaks my heart that I cannot help, and I feel guilty for not being there to suffer what they suffer.
Being a citizen of a war-torn country makes simple stuff like checking your Facebook account very sad. I feel sad when I see other people posting about their vacations, babies, new job, and other “normal” activities, while my Iraqi friends post about how they barely survived yesterday’s explosion. It breaks my heart when I see people post about silly stuff like some actress’ ridiculous outfit or love affair while Iraqis post about how a small city in the western part of Iraq was besieged by ISIS for three months and the population almost starved to death. One day, I went through my Facebook posts and noticed that almost all of my posts are sad and depressing because I always post about my country. I did not find one silly post about a celebrity or TV show. That’s when I thought “I have the right to be silly!”
Yes, I want to live a life where I have silly and funny stuff to post about. Everyone should have the right to be silly. Living a normal life should not be a privilege for the few, but a right for everyone.
Among all the bad news of death and suffering I do, however, find some positive posts by Iraqis. Posts about one man’s attempt to provide for and raise 32 Iraqi orphans in a private orphanage in Baghdad. Posts about how Iraqis refused to submit to fear and went on the dangerous streets to celebrate New Year’s Eve when Brussels cancelled its official celebrations and Paris called off an annual fireworks display on the Champs-Élysées for fear of terrorist attacks. When I see how people refuse to give up and are still determined to carry on I restore some hope. A hope that tomorrow will be better for them because they deserve it.
Iraq used to be a modern country. We had the first female minister in the Middle East region, our personal status law was the most advanced in the region, and students used to come to Iraq to study medicine and engineering. We were pioneers only because we have great human resources. Although my people have suffered a lot, they still prove every day that they will never give up.
One day, I believe that Iraq will be peaceful again. I believe that eventually we will triumph and one day, we will all have a normal life with silly things to post about!