Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 17th, 2008

Something about my folks, (continue 3)

George, my dad

My dad, George Bouhatab, was born in 1924 in Segou, in currently the Republic of Mali in Africa.  Mali was then under the French colonial power and was named “Le Soudan Francais”. Dad was repatriated to Lebanon when a child and lived his youth in Beit-Chabab; first with his mother Saesta and younger sister Millia for a few years and then in his grand dad Toufic’s house to the age of twenty.

Although dad finished only the “certificate” in his secondary school, he is well learned in Arabic literature and is good in math; he could easily be an educated professional if he was permitted to continue his studies. He could easily be a good lawyer though not prosper because I figured that he would be very selective with his clients since he is too honest to defend scoundrels.

Dad is a handsome man and about 163 cm tall and looked somewhat chubby for his stature ,but was never fat looking or carried a belly. He has good health and even at the age of 83 does not suffer from blood pressures or high blood sugar content or cholesterol. He never wore corrective glasses except lately for reading.  He had a surgery for appendicitis in Africa but it turned out to be a false alarm but had to suffer the consequences of the surgery.   The other surgery that I am aware of is the removal of his right salivary gland, the parotid; I think that my left gland will eventually have to be removed, but mine is the sub-mandible salivary gland (I indeed did that surgery last year and I was not comfortable for two weeks and wrote about it in my blog). The echo graph has shown two stones in the gland and the surgeon has decided to take out the whole gland because the stones are not located in the duct and thus, would eventually fabricate more stones; I wouldn’t mind be a quarry if not for the constant low-level pain.

Dad has excellent memory and his recall capabilities for names are fantastic; mine and mother’s are pretty poor, especially for recalling names, and I keep the fear that Alzheimer decease might be my lot. The physical weak parts of dad are his skinny legs and feet that I inherited; he has terrible bunions and does not take care of his toe nails (I take good care of all these foreseeable deficiencies).

Dad started smoking early on and still is a smoker. He started drinking alcohol regularly during the civil war before lunch time and before dinner; it was “arak” first (local or national alcohol drink extracted from grapes) and then he turned to cheap whisky on account that arak was the cause for his frequent falling down when getting up off his chair.  Last year, he stopped drinking completely because he realized that he no longer could handle drinks:   we (my mother and I) several times left him lying on the floor for him to sleep off his dizziness.

I used to borrow Arabic books in libraries for him to read in order to keep his mental agility and I subscribed to dailies for him; mother barely can read on account that she gets dizzy when reading; actually she gets dizzy in almost every movement, in cars or airplanes or boats.

I never heard dad singing except when he was inebriated in a gathering that was sharing in the inebriation; neither did mother sing.  In 1963, my folks brought a fancy radio and disc player in an enclosed wood casing and placed it in the salon (formal living room) just as a piece of decoration; I used that decoration to playing the Beatles and French current songs a year later.

Human Rights: from contentions to standardization (December 17, 2008)


                        Sixty years ago the concept of human rights was self-evident to the UN; then we discovered that the notion of human rights is highly political in nature and in magnitude.  The UN had to deal with successive and recurring contentions over the definition and characterization of human rights.  I will adopt the genesis of the struggle according to the exposition of Professor Ghassan Salameh.  The explanations and interjections are mine.


 First set of contentions; during the cold war between the US and Soviet Empires the dichotomy settled on whether human rights are fundamentally political and civil or economic and social.  After the demise of the Soviet Union the first option was retained.  In the meanwhile, the US had destroyed the nascent democracies in Latin America and installed dictators by military coups. The Soviet Union and China humiliated their citizens by famine and mass genocides.


The second set of contentions; the realist exigencies for law and order of the States should take precedence to liberal notions of human rights.  The US would not renege on its appointed dictators and oligarchies because global open market is the name of the game.


The third set of contentions; pre-emptive actions by the superpowers take priority over the notion of self-determination of States.  The first option dominated even against the UN resolutions of non interference in recognized independent States. In fact, pre-emptive actions were not taken during the Rwanda genocide (not a rich State or not having any significant multinational investment) or in Sudan (because very rich in oil and can satisfy the exploration of all multinational oil companies)


The fourth set of contentions; rogue States that supposedly are flaunting the western policies are considered failing to the resolutions of the UN concerning human rights even if these States were successful in preserving law and order (such as Iraq of Saddam Hussein who also instituted economic development, or Afghanistan of the Taliban).  People who were denied “official” recognition to a national Statehood by the UN are no longer eligible to struggle for their self-determination and liberty (this was the case of the Palestinians).


The fifth set of contentions; nationalist aspirations versus maintaining liberal human rights such as in the genocides perpetrated during the subdivision of Yugoslavia into central European States of Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia.


The sixth set of contentions; religious political order and culture versus individual liberty such as in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, and Iran.


The seventh set of contentions; secular versus religious based laws applied to human rights.  The general concept at the UN has decided for secular laws to govern human rights.  This means that there are no needs for States or organizations to find excuses or pretexts for denying the secular individual human rights.  This standard of understanding the fundamentals of human rights is flexible and sustainable because it recognizes that laws are enacted by man and not parachuted by any divine power.


                        By the way, what do you consider the indivisible human rights?  Is it freedom of speech and not be punished afterward?  Is it freedom of religious beliefs?  Is it freedom of associating and communicating?  It is the right to drive a car regardless of gender? (Women in Saudi Arabia are denied that right).  Is it the right not to die of hunger?  Is it the right to have a decent shelter? Is it the right to work?  Is it the right for a job?  Is it the right to apply for asylum and be accepted without humiliation?  Is it the right to have open borders for seeking a better standard of living?  Is it the right for free education?  Is it the right for opportunities?  Is it the right to marry under civil codes?  Is it the right to divorce under civil codes?  Is it the right to inherit under civil codes? Is it the right of women to enjoying equal standards as men?  Is it equality under the law? Is it equity in dignity and wealth? Is it the right not to be monitored by Big Brothers?  Is it the right not to be controlled by Big Brothers? Is it the right to have options between State and private institution? Is it the right of voting for special amendments?  Is it the right of self defense?  Is it the right of self autonomy? Is it the right of taking arms against dictators and oligarchies?  Is it the right for clear potable water?  It is the right for clean breathable air?  Is it the right for the handicapped, physically and mentally, for special facilities, education and jobs?


                        If you had to select only five rights, (that you would shed blood for), what would you pick up?  Do you think under-developed citizens would invariably select the same set as the citizens of the developed States?  Do you think people would select the same priority regardless of religion or gender?  Do you believe that the kinds of human rights effectively granted in States represent the civilization, culture, and social structure of a region?

                        Do you believe that when the spiritual human rights are granted (the UN monitor and enforce them in all States) then the material rights would follow?  Should the UN allocate funds to non-government organizations to monitor and publish their findings?  If these are of any concern to you, please express your right for freedom of opinion.




December 2008

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