Anyone wondering what the President meant by that curious turn of phrase should read this post by Ammar Abdulhamid in Damascus, who writes A Heretic’s Blog. It reflects the crushing moral burden of everyday life in a totalitarian country. The hunger is for freedom. The dark places are not just the despotic corners of the earth, such as Abdulhamid’s Syria, but also the despairing souls of good people whose every decision entails the possibility of betrayal or self-betrayal. Here is a slice of darkness:
The City’s air is rife with all sorts of untoward rumors, everything is now possible: there is talk of arrests, purges, coup d’etats, assassinations, sanctions, invasions, anything and everything, except, of course, freedom. Everything is possible except freedom. Freedom is never mentioned. Freedom never comes to mind. Freedom remains a distant dream.
The world is changing around us, but we, Damascenes, Syrians, Sunnis, ‘Alawis, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Circassians, or however we define ourselves these days, including perhaps heretics, can’t feel any hope in that. Nothing has touched us so far. Nothing seems to loom in the air, except for rumors and hearsays, none of which particularly inspired or inspiring. The face of an ugly and malevolent god still stares down upon any possibility of hope within us.
Abdulhamid wants to leave Syria. I wish him luck.