I am by nature grumpy and that has been well established. Before I went for my walk today my husband told me something in relation to the postal survey debate, that made me so angry, I thought my head would explode, and it involves Hummus. No, that is not a typo, no one called anyone that offensive and derogatory name for a person attracted to the same sex. This is in relation to the delicious chick pea and tahini dip famously associated with the Lebanese. I need to declare my bias in this discussion straight up. I am married to a Lebanese man and have watched him perfect the flavour, consistency and taste of this dip for the last 24 years. The recipe for Hummus is widely varied and debated among people of the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan). In a Lebanese banquet the dressing of the hummus is done by the cook and performed with great pride, it is considered king of the table. My husband makes a batch of Hummus weekly and it is never just for our family, it is given out generously. There is a pregnant woman at our church who has been so sick, she hasn’t been able to eat a lot of regular food, but she loves my husband’s hummus . So he regularly puts some aside for her. By doing this he is not saying “here have some nutrition”. For the Lebanese, food is the language of love. He is saying “we love you, and we care for your family”. This hospitality is characteristic of people across the Levant, Muslim and Christian alike. It is one of the reasons I love these people so much, and the sole reason I am ten kilograms overweight.
So what has made me so angry? Well a few days ago Verum Media shared a video about a ‘no’ campaign stall at a university. It seemed odd because, for a start the students were offering Kebabs. Then as my husband watched the video he could hear one guy say to another “Tony Halas”, Arabic, in context, meaning “Tony enough”. He could see they were Lebanese. It is very unusual for Lebanese to be involved in protest of this kind so it struck my curiosity.
Today we read Miranda Devine’s article in the Daily Telegraph. And all the odd little questions were answered. If Lebanese have a beef with you, they don’t say, “hey, I have a beef with you”, they invite you for lunch and stuff you so full of food you can barely move, and just when you are on the verge of a food coma they say “Let’s talk about this my friend”. By putting out kebabs and hummus these Lebanese were saying “come to the table, and let’s have a discussion”. Tony’s mum made the hummus. And according to the article today, “they smeared [the hummus] on his clothes, the back of his neck and his face. They also kicked him and others in the shins to get them to drop their placards”. This is where my anger rises, to take someone’s mum’s hummus that is being offered to you as a invitation to dialogue, and use it to assault them is just so offensive. No wonder Tony had to be reminded to not be provoked.
The Lebanese know about social division, and they know the cost of it. Beirut was the fashionable centre of the Middle East until it was torn apart by civil war. So, as I walked today I prayed to God that He would help me not to react out of anger, “God bring peace to our nation, God show me how to reflect your nature”. And I thought about these young men and the example they show, offering mum’s hummus to those who despise them, and what they stand for. I am thanking God for these young Lebanese men who represented free speech and the values of their people. Who testify against the horrible things that have been said about Lebanese men in the media. And I am wondering… are they married? I have beautiful single daughters. Just kidding. Well done boys on your restraint and your example, as an adopted member of the Lebanese community I am proud of you.