15 October 2005

"What did they want?" Lebanese TV star May Chidiac wondered in her hospital bed, arm and leg amputated after a timed bomb ripped her car. It was a Sunday. She had gone to pray in a special solitary church with a friend who invited her to his family home for coffee. As she left to start her Range Rover, the quiet town of Ghadir just south of Beirut was shaken by the impact.

Why would anyone want to kill May Chidiac?

The beautiful, gracious, elegant soft-spoken broadcaster had no known enemies. She was not a public advocate nor a dogmatic ideologue. Naturally, she had her own views: simple straightforward love for her country. If that's a sin then every Lebanese is a mortal sinner. Yet even her basic position did not come across visibly except through indirect leading questions. Her only weapon was her voice, abundant charm and a disarming giggle.

Why would those criminals hit May? As a news anchor, she reported current events. Her special show "Good Morning" was informative without being controversial. None of her guests seemed offended. Through the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation Satellite, May conveyed a hopeful image particularly to Lebanese expatriates in the U.S., Europe and Latin America -- a community that outnumbered their compatriots in the home country. Colourfully yet correctly dressed, most days she was like a down to earth flower; other days she seemed like a butterfly hopping from one idea to another. Always she exuded professional confidence and human warmth.

Who would hit that Lebanese butterfly? Could it be those shaken by the Butterfly effect? Did the flapping of a butterfly wing signaling waves of freedom to the public create a disturbance? Was her casual reflection of public opinion amplified enough to help change the atmosphere? Did an accumulation of her casual giggles on the airwaves eventually cause a tornado elsewhere? Was there "a notion of sensitive dependence" with more force than commonly assumed?

Whatever those criminals sought, they failed to terrorize May, nor any of her colleagues. While still in the hospital, she is now more politicized than ever, more powerful than before, and certainly more popular. May Chidiac is now a symbol of courage and determination to live in freedom and dignity. And the Lebanese people, the people she loved, have vividly displayed how much they loved her back.

And the freedom of the press remains a towering unbreakable rock of ages. For, at the beginning was the Word. And it shall remain forever.