Nawar, male, aged 34, an engineer from Tartous

Locals at Beit Jabri, a popular restaurant in Old City, Damascus, 2009 | Susan

What makes you proud to be Syrian?

I feel proud to be Syrian because I believe we have a special stable identity however much we shift from one place to another. Our identity is represented by the way we interact, engage, behave and move towards a vision. It does not relate to the material things we have. From a vision perspective, I am proud because I believe we mostly have several visions that directly relate to the surrounding conditions and leads to one essential goal, which is to survive. As for how we work toward our goals, I believe Syrians should be proud to have the ability to be interdependent and use all the intelligence they have to even create new behavior, make their own new rules at any time to adapt to any condition and achieve their vision even if it is just survival, while managing social interaction and ongoing happiness. The current crisis is a shining example, where I realize Syrians could rapidly make mindset changes to adapt to critical situations and at least survive. And they are doing it really good. Even Syrians who have the opportunity to live a long way from war zones, they would work with development visions on the long term not only on the short-time horizon of survival.

How has the ‘Arab Spring’ been received in Syria?

I would say that the condition in Syria is more deeply rooted to believe it’s just a part of a rival event like the Arab spring. The complexity of events and the number of hands playing a role before and at the moment leads more to a very old systematic disruption due to multiple interests and beliefs, planned and decided long time ago. And that was seen by rational minds in Syria at the beginning.

Syria is a secular country. Can you explain what this means?

“can easily integrate with other cultures”

It depends on the perspective and background of non- Syrians. In terms of religion, some cultures would look at the country as not respecting religious purposes of life which makes our people infidels in their point of view. However, with others it could mean we are free-minded, always aim on development and achieving goals under modern conditions and can easily integrate with other cultures like what’s currently happening in Germany. What does the concept of personal freedom mean to you? I would see personal freedom as being able to do what fulfils our needs, minds well and achieve our vision. As for political freedom, it of course integrates with personal freedom in having the right to choose who would allocate resources and lead for development in all sectors. And also having the right to participate publically in the formation of policy so that our personal freedom and needs are achieved without causing harm to the function of the dynamic development of environment.

People in Bakdash | By Susan, 2009

What have you learnt about life, people and yourself since the start of the crisis?

I have learnt that in any system of communities, if the communities didn’t interact and integrate smoothly and harmonically under one united goal, there would definitely be a conflict. This conflict could be solved either with reconsidering notions and rules to integrate, total isolation, or actually violence. This is where strong interconnected education plays a big role. Human mindset has a crucial role in understanding the way things work, and if it’s not well prepared and has the opportunity to engage in finding logical solutions, then violence could easily become the choice where the weakest would follow the strongest in their communities to protect them from violence either by local communities themselves or external ones. In other words, better education from a long time ago would have led to a better solution. As for what has the crisis done to Syria including Syrians in other parts of the world, I could describe that as what happens to billiard balls when they take a strong hit and isolate.

What is your view of Utopia?

I don’t think I can imagine like the Greek did. We still haven’t reached a limit that we could measure how would that be while the world is interconnected and we have been living a long lasting conflict for a long time. However, I can just say it would be a place where human mind is respected and classified according to what they actually do for a sustainable development and get rewarded for it. I can also say that utopia would be a place formed so that all species could utilize nature according to their needs without conflicts and leaving a capacity enough for coming generations.

Have you experienced anything since the start of the crisis you would like to relate?

Since I haven’t lived or stayed in Syria for a long time ago, I haven’t had any direct experience within the crisis. However, I am having one indirect experience which is more difficulty to reunite with my family.

What can give you hope?

In short, what can spray my guts with hope is someone of power who starts speaking of a logical solution that doesn’t provoke violence against a specific party or community. Going back to the 1st question of how I am proud to be Syrian, I would say that I have faith in my people that at some point in time horizon after a long period of conflict and violence, new generations will wipe the dust out of the country for more absolute re-development.

How do you find the courage to go on and stay sane?

The answer of this question could be integrated from question 1, 7 & 10. One maybe cannot be able to stay sane, but could find a way to move on, adapt and self-develop to stay at least ready for coming opportunities. Thinking always of the problem itself without the essential cause and a solution to prevent it is always indeed a way for insanity; I believe the free human mind is always able to manipulate thoughts and find different forms of faith.

Is Syria the victim of an information war?

Information war is happening all over the world. I could just say Syria could be a victim of it.

Can you talk about the freedoms women have enjoyed in Syria?

I believe that women in the MENA region all lack freedom of decision making when it comes to their future. As for personal freedom, I could say that in Syria, most of the women at least enjoy being able to choose their career and work locally, raise their children according to what they see the best, interact socially with others and enjoy the beauty of their surrounding Nature. Of course in different levels depending on religious constraints. I could say however, that we still need a lot to understand more about the value of women and their actual role even if we already have existing special cultural values of women in Syria.

How can political problems such as corruption and nepotism best be tackled?

Corruption could be a way of adapting to survive for some people, therefore I would see the best solution is to reconsider transparency and public participation within policy. Nepotism could be an integrated effect of corruption and misallocation of resources. Referring to my answer in question 10, the one who would tackle this problem is someone of power who solves problem seeking absolute development with no favor for a specific party to benefit from. Otherwise the conflict will rise again and lead for both corruption and nepotism.

What is your image of a new Syria?

It’s not so easy to give a specific image because in my stock of information, there’re no clear inputs that give me a specific projection of it. However, according to what I know there are two different possibilities and in both possibilities, there are best case and worst case scenarios. The 1st possibility is isolation under an international agreement which projects an image of Syria as separated states, each lead by certain parties involved and start developing by exchanging resources with allies. The best case scenario here is that people in each state will focus on development independently with minimized conflicts. But this could be difficult of course because to some people this will still be losing a property that has been developing for a long time ago and they became part of it, therefore it might not be easy to give it up and that gives the bad image of isolated states with ongoing conflicts and could still has the status of civil war. As for the other possibility, it’s a one side winning by the owners of the property as they have stronger motivation to stabilize the situation who are “The Syrian Army”. The best case is that the area will become safer, people will focus only on redevelopment of the country as a whole, Syrians who were living abroad would go back to use all what they have learned and achieved in there career to reconstruct properties from infrastructure to end-user services. But this still seem like a faraway happy ending; this will mean assuming all opposing parties have been isolated in agreement to move outside the country, it means that local communities who were opposing each other have decided to whip out the past and focus on reconstruction so that means the country would be developing on a rational pathway. Any of the mentioned scenarios not happening would leave the worst case scenario of continuous instability even if the end of war was officially pronounced. I would want to believe that there might be a time where conflicts have ended or at least minimized and people start thinking with absolute rationality focusing on reconstruction and development to recover the country’s heart beats. And as I mentioned in question 1, Syrians are able to rapidly create new mindsets for adapting new conditions but the question is when will we realize a 1st step to a peaceful development-oriented condition for Syrians to adapt.


From ‘Beloved Syria – Considering Syrian Perspectives’, Sept – Oct 2016 Edition


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I am a freelance Developer in Melbourne. I've developed and taught Android software over five years.