Activism in Lebanon: Looking at the Bright Side

It looks like I have been pretty angry recently. Or at least that seems to be what my blog followers and friends think. I have been accused of being too critical, focusing on everything negative about Lebanon. Although if you ask me, I would have to write day and night to even get to the core of what is slowly destroying the essence of this country.

I cannot blame blog followers who don’t really know me. In recent months, I have constantly pounded my fellow citizens for not being angry enough, being reactive not active in facing the country’s problems, and questioning whether we have the courage for change. For those who know me however, I am certain they realize that I am not a pessimist, but hope they understand that my overall focus on the negative is directly proportional to the harm it’s doing to the country. I hope to be doing my part in bring it to the forefront, to break the viciousness of inaction, reverse endemic apathy towards the present and disillusionment in the hope of a better future.

Therefore, if only momentarily, I will look at the bright side of things.

There has never been any doubt in my mind that Lebanon is a great place with potential to be even greater. Its people have disappointed me too many times to mention.  Yet a humble thank you or appreciative smile from a stranger on the street immediately brings back my faith in its people. If you know where to look for it, you will always find those with a heart of gold and humanity beyond compare. We saw this most recently in the aftermath of the collapse of the Fasouh building and the Ashrafieh explosion. Private initiatives and civil society volunteerism (most notably Ashrafieh4All and OffreJoie in the Ashrafieh case) to assist victims brought government efforts to shame and restored our faith in humanity.

Despite the hardships, there are hundreds of dedicated and compassionate individuals and worthy organizations that have made a difference in the life of the poorest, the elderly, and the illiterate; in giving a voice and healing victims of family violence, child abuse or those discriminated against for their special needs. Other activists dedicate their time to save what is left of Lebanon’s heritage, its precious ecosystem, and in providing disadvantaged youth with an opportunity to pursue their dreams. Let’s not forget those who struggle to keep the memory of political prisoners and disappeared alive, because their families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones.

The pen is often mightier than the sword and hundreds more continue to use their pens and keyboards to shed light on daily abuses to human rights, labor rights and children rights. Lebanon may still be years away from being a full-fledged free and democratic republic, but we can still say most of what we want without fearing for our lives.  Hence, we have also seen a wave of new groups and individuals denouncing the political system, political inheritance, and deep-seated corruption in almost every sector of society, whether through print media, radio, television, and the arts.

I cannot name all those doing their little part in the grand scheme of activism in Lebanon, but you know who you are, and please, keep on doing what you do.  Whether as groups or individuals, your dynamism and courage embody the living hope in raising our social standards. You have chosen to complain and do something about it, rather than complain over coffee and arguileh and argue why nothing changes.

Morale of the story, I am not a pessimist. I still believe in Lebanon because of the many people who believe it in too despite all the odds. And for as long as that continues, there is hope.  For too long, not enough of us would or could shed light on what ails this country the most, and so we are doing it now. There, it has been said.  Can I now get back to my critical and angry self again?

3 Replies to “Activism in Lebanon: Looking at the Bright Side”

  1. Thank you Marina. I never doubted that you see the “Bright Side of Lebanon”. All your previous articles show the real Lebanon and the way to seek for a “brighter” and successful Lebanon. Keep it up, it is always a great pleasure to read all your articles. With all my love and respect. Carla

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