Thursday, June 23, 2011

If We Will, We Will

The philosophy of wills, means and ends

They say that where there's a will there's a way, which implies that the precondition of a "way" is the will itself... Speaking in less cipher; one can say that if you want something to happen badly enough, you should be willing to do what it takes to get it. It is not enough to just will it but this will must be accompanied with the willingness to take action. By no means does this imply that any ends justify the means. On the contrary, the will has to be one such that laws of integrity and humanity apply and where the end is one that suits all and not some.

Ends vs means

To place this subject in the context of the conflict in Bahrain, the opposition's motives had been clean and legitimate at the beginning of their protests asking for political and social reforms (the ends). However, they used illegitimate means to reach these ends (i.e. Unauthorized demonstrations). Soon after the authorities made an attempt to restore order and dismantle these illegal protests the ends of the protesters have begun to change erratically and they started using unruly means to reach their ends. All the while Bahrain has been at a war of wills in which it was proven that those with the biggest will won each battle.
With a revolution three decades in the making it is obvious that the will is more than strong and the creativity in the means used to reach these objectives has been found to grow exponentially throughout its phases.  What started out as defamatory graffiti on the wall evolved into burning tyres to Molotov cocktail attacks on police cars ended in exacerbating wounds for dramatic effect and faking own deaths. The will has become so strong that the means, however horrendous or preposterous they were had become justified to reach the ends.  The result is a fabricated and amplified revolution that has caught the attention of the world simply because of this strong will.

Wills, means and consequences

"accusing #Bahrain's conduct of being unjust shows a belief not in democracy but that actions don't and shouldn't have consequences" - 

This tweet from my dear friend sums up the situation today quite effectively. After the sentencing of 21 instigators of unrest to prison terms ranging from 2 years to life, unrest resumes as vandals block minor roads with dumpsters and spill gasoline on the roads to express their objection to the verdicts.
The will translates into radical means to reach an impossible end has earned these figure heads their deserved penalty in the eye of the law and in the most transparent and legitimate process possible. Yet Ali Salman is still in his state of denial and the concept of justice remains a one way street in the eyes of the opposition. Consequences mean nothing and retaliation is the predominant means but to what ends we have yet to discover.

Fe Fi Fo Fum

On the other hand, the rest of Bahrain had been taken by storm unable to process what happened fast enough to build a will or a means to an undetermined end. Amidst this rude awakening arises a force appropriately dubbed The Sunni Giant by the esteemed Ms. Sawsan Al Shaer when more than half of Bahrain while still in its dazed state got swept away by The Gathering Of National Unity and led into the largest assembly in the history of Bahrain represented by all sects, religions and affiliations all united under one common message of unity, progress and reform.  The will emerged when there was a need for a united front against the atrocities of the roundabout and to counter the sectarian detour the demands had taken. In only days The Gathering Of National Unity has assembled hundreds of thousands of people at Al Fateh mosque which was chosen for its size and symbolic value. Unprecedented in the history of this island, the 52% Sunnis who have never before united so solemnly for a single cause have made their way from all corners of the island to pledge their allegiance to its monarchy and to present their demands in a civilized and orderly manner.  Accompanied by their fellow occupants of bahrain who have been marginalized by the protesters for their nationality and non-Muslim religious affiliations, these people grew in strength and will. The will: to be heard and for their existence to be acknowledged. The means: a large gathering out of the way of major roads, no slanderous slogans, no tyre burning, no graffiti on the wall and no beating and killing of expats.
The will has now evolved into a desire to reach beyond the geographical realms of Bahrain after attempts to connect with the opposition in some kind of reconciliation had failed miserably due to their preoccupation with spreading their libelous messages to the west and tarnishing the good name of this country for their selfish gain. The TGONU spark has ignited a flame that has been simmering during the first days of the revolt looking for that fuel to light it full force. The will has increased exponentially and people were looking for the means through which they can realize their ends and consequently individuals and small groups have emerged, scattered as they were, but united under one goal which is to defend the honor of their home.
As the groups start to familiarize themselves with the monster within and the enemy without we slowly see their messages aligning and the effectiveness of it all was witnessed when a certain human rights activist was denied access to certain forums and was then given the third degree by the US congress. The means have finally seen an end and this encouraged thousands upon thousands to jump on the bandwagon and to join the media crusade to bring truth back home. Very quickly niches have been filled and efforts have found unison and what was a small voice of a few turned into the loud roar and the result has become mergers between groups, reference points for facts and figures and subject matter experts. Now we see better coordination and leadership spring from nothing only to become the front line defense for bahrain. Leaders and intellectuals have come to the surface and set the bar so high that the rest are striving to reach it. The Giant's size and voice, so large, is now giving the opposition something to think about and bringing them out into unchartered territory actually having to defend themselves to someone and justifying their actions after being unquestioned in the past. 

And so we will

And thus there is a great lesson to be learned here. With a strong will one can achieve in 3 months what took 3 decades to fail.  With a strong will the means find their way into our world and all pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Similar wills bring together people with similar means to achieve similar ends. There is strength in numbers but groups are made of individuals with small efforts so let us be this individualistic group of strong wills and let us unite towards achieving the ultimate end: to bring back the Bahrain we know and love and put it back on it's journey of reform and prosperity under the leadership of his majesty the king...


Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Salmaniya Story

We have all heard of the atrocities at Salmaniya and the crimes against humanity caused by the doctors. Worse than those are the lies and fabrications that have become business as usual at the hospital which puts to shame this noble profession and all it stands for.

I met with a young doctor just making her way up the medical ladder and striving to go through her residency program when she met with a strenuous series of events that have forever changed her life. For the purpose of maintaining her anonymity I will call her "Amal"...

Amal gives a detailed account of her first hand experience at Salmaniya Medical Complex starting from february 17 which was the day the security forces made their first attempt to clear the roundabout from its newly formed colony of protesters.

"The following is a description of my experience as a health professional at the Salmaniya Medical Complex during the period of protests and unrest that occurred n the kingdom of Bahrain.
Since the beginning of the protest, an atmosphere of unrest and instability filled the hospital. The attitudes of some of our colleagues changed dramatically. Many of whom we thought were our friends became hostile against us just because we are from a different sect. or as they defined us "agents and spies for the system"
It is a sorrow feeling that I felt when lifelong friends disregard and ignore all the pleasant times we have spent together for political or sectarian conflicts.
As part of the residency program, I am required to complete rotations at the Salmaniya Medical Complex. 
I was rotating in the Accident and Emergency department during February 2011.
On the February 17th, I arrived at the emergency department at 7 am 
The first thing I saw was total chaos. A lot of people were running around, shouting and screaming. I approached the Shift In Charge doctor who instructed me to put on the disaster team apron and I was assigned to the "B" area. He instructed us to attend to cold cases as the injured protestors will be treated in the other areas.
The accident and emergency department was over crowded with hospital staff, nurses and an even larger numbers of cleaners, bystanders and photographer. Antigovernment slogans were shouted, rumors were spread about government officials resigning, ministers abandoning their posts and about mass murders and crimes being committed against "innocent people"by law enforcement personnel.
With every rumor spread, the rage and anger of the protestors increased. The antigovernment chants turned into outrageous threats against Sunnis.
A group lead by a hospital janitor and a male nurse were shouting "no mercy for foreigners or Sunnis"
many people were gathering at the reception and triage desks to register themselves as patients and from what I saw, they were neither injured nor sick. An action that only leads to piling up records and increasing the number of casualties in the registers
As our instructions were given out to us, our designated area was to receive cold cases only, hence it was quieter than the other areas. A staff nurse came into the room and started cursing us and called us traitors because we were not treating injured protestors.  At that time we had a patient who was suffering from a heart attack and we were managing his condition. The patient's condition was completely unrelated to the protests yet Photographers stormed the room and started taking photographs of the patient and talking to news reporters that he was a victim of police brutality.
They had not consented the patient to do such actions, they have not asked permission from the medical staff treating him. This is a sign of violation of patient rights and privacies.
Then a large group of protestors brought in a few of the injured and many nurses were tending to them in a chaotic manner that I have not seen like before.
Medical consultants from different specialities walked into the room and were talking to the press about the nature the injuries, which  were a lot less in extent and nature than the description they gave. The injuries were no different nor more than the cases that we see every day.
Once the protestors started to gather in the parking lot for mass riots, the crowds began moving out of the area i was working in. Then a nurse approached me with a paper and demanded that I sign my name on it. She said it is a petition against his majesty the king. I refused to sign on the grounds that [it was a clear defamation of the king].
The nurse became violent and shouted curses and foul language at me. The same attitude seems to be contagious as many hospital staff have done the same when they saw us.
I ignored the incident and tried to focus on my tasks but the fear that I might be assaulted by these radical protestors was great.
With every minute that passed, I could see the expressions on the people around me change. They were looking at me with anger and they started talking in very disrespectful manners.
Despite the fact that I was taking care of them, they began cursing me and calling me names. I feared that their aggression might escalate so I took permission from the in charge doctor to leave the hospital.
I was terrified to go back to the hospital the following day.
The next day, february 18th, I went to the hospital. My family insisted that I stay home as the conditions were not safe and taking into consideration the events that occurred they day before. But I still went as I had duties towards my patients.
Once I reached the hospital,  saw huge crowds protesting in the parking lots. The corridors were full of angry rioters and many photographers were taking photos of this chaos.
 I went to the emergency department. One of my colleagues who signed the petition that I turned away the day before was in the corridor. I approached her to say hello. She did not greet me back. I was shocked to see such change in her behavior and asked her about the reason behind this change. She boldly said that it is bigger than what she had thought was happening.
I would like to shed some light on the cases that we saw that day. Most of them were anxiety attacks and not serious injuries or life threatening conditions as what they have been claiming.
This summarizes my experience during the unfortunates events that befell our beloved kingdom. I know a lot of my colleagues who have been either harassed, insulted and a few who have been assaulted.
May my words help expose the truth of what really happened."

I didn't want to change any of Amal's words, even where there are typing mistakes because I wanted to maintain the integrity of the story and to keep it as "real" as I possibly can.  It is a shame that Amal has to live in fear of her life day in and day out. It Is a shame that she cannot publish her story herself and go on CNN and BBC and openly and confidently tell her story herself. However, the trust in media has diminished in a rapid manner since February 14 in Bahrain and especially among those who were not protesters calling for the fall of a government.

I asked her permission to tell her story because even though it is not controversial or sensational, it deserved to be told because it is the truth; something that has become a rare commodity in this day and age...