I’m a huge fan of Nadine Labaki. Her films tackle serious sociopolitical/religious themes using Lebanon as a scenic backdrop, but the messages she conveys through film are universal. My personal favorite is Caramel, which explores gender roles and sexual taboos from the female perspective. A friend of mine had a small acting part in her 2011 film, Where Do We Go Now? This film scrutinizes sectarian conflict and exposes the powerful roles women play in mitigating human violence.
A Maronite Christian who rarely — if ever — publicly discusses her religious beliefs, Nadine Labaki is a master at gently jabbing at religious ideas and practices without offending anyone. One of my favorite subtle attacks at religion involves a scene in Caramel where a young Muslim woman casually walks into a doctor’s office to have her hymen repaired so her fiancé won’t know she’s not a virgin. So it was all but surprising when Labaki posted the following image and statement to Facebook yesterday:
I am sorry!
I am sorry ! I quit ! I don’t want to be here ! I don’t belong in your world !
I don’t want to breathe, eat, play, learn, laugh or dream !
I don’t want to grow up to become like you ! You have failed me!
Mothers, are you sleeping at night?
Fathers, are you able to close your eyes?
Decision makers of the world, are you able to give orders and go on with your lives…remorseless?
Why give me life if you want to take it away so quickly?
Why give me life if you re going to watch me suffer, without lifting a finger !
My little body cannot handle your wars ! I m too frail to cope with hunger, deprivation, displacement, abuse, rape!
My innocent mind cannot comprehend your violence, your hatred, your perversions, your intolerance…. I m not built for this!
Is it all worth it?
I had dreams, I had projects! I wanted to be just like you, a teacher, an architect, a doctor, a painter… not a killer, not a hater, not a torturer, not a rapist !
Is this what you have understood from God’s teachings ? Is this your interpretation of “Be nice”?
God is not a warlord, he is not a landlord ! Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, Buddha, whatever prophet you believe in, whatever God party you belong to!
Damned be those wombs that carry us !
Damned be those seeds that give us life!
No we don’t want to be born in your chaos !
We don’t belong in your world !
YOU DON’T DESERVE US!
What strikes me most about Labaki’s statement is she is not merely slamming Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all other religions, she’s also pointing her finger straight at religious people for bastardizing the teachings of religion in order to fight wars. And she criticizes religious people for teaching their children dangerous religious ideas. She blames religious parents for turning their children into killers, haters, torturers, and rapists.
As an atheist I welcome her portrayal and critique of all religions and the people who use religion to bring harm to the world. I mentioned earlier I was “all but surprised” to see this comment. I’m not surprised because Lebanon is trapped between religious societies that only know how to use war to solve their problems. Intellectualism in Lebanon is huge, so it is especially frustrating when they read in the news each day the horrors caused by ISIS or the IDF or other religiously based political entities.
Nadine Labaki does not belong to that world of religious hatred and war, and neither do I.