Beirut, Yet Again

Yesterday’s explosion in Beirut – killing former Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah among around seven others who remain to be identified –  is a sad way to end a year already painted blood-red. With the ongoing violence and bombings in Tripoli, Dahiyeh, and the recurrent attacks on Lebanon’s border with Syria, 2013 was a tragic year, but in true Lebanese style, it could have always been much worse…

There is so much to say about what happened, yet nothing to say at all, in exactly the same way as when something like this happens in Lebanon, and it happens a lot. Because this is how the ugly game of “politics” is played out in Lebanon.

For as much as I know Lebanon and its people, we will carry on. We will “keep walking.” And I used to look at this as a sign of strength, but part of me now sees this so-called “resilience” with disdain, as a sign of indifference and complete and utter resignation to the status quo. But it is not the resilience in continuing to work, making a living and talking about the wonders of Lebanon despite its troubles that is the problem; it is the “resilience” in carrying on and ignoring the root causes of our misfortunes, pretending we cannot do anything to cure it, and believing we are condemned to this reality for as long as there is a Lebanon to speak of.

Playing blame games and pointing fingers at possible culprits doesn’t interest me, others shall take care of that I’m sure. But thinking about how long we have screamed and shouted the same frustrations, and despair that we are never angry enough to stand up, or that we are condemned to react and never act for our country and the things we truly believe in does interest me. It serves to further crush my hopes and dreams for this godforsaken country, but it also gives yet another push to keep on screaming and shouting: we deserve better than this, but are we truly ready to shed our narrow geographical, confessional, community affiliations for Lebanon as a whole? Are we ready to sacrifice our time, energy, reputation and whatever is dear to us for the sake of Lebanon as a whole?

This is not about philosophizing our way to a more peaceful and beautiful tomorrow. This is about trying, for once, to unite against what tears us apart. It is to fight confessionalism, if only starting with our own words and thoughts, to fight our propensity to complain and put ‘our money where our mouth is’ by demanding justice for everybody that has been killed. It is to reject the corruption that is eating our society alive, and to have the courage to say no to the rotten political class that has lived off and nurtured our mutual hatreds and ignorance for years. All this won’t end the violence anytime soon and make Lebanon the country of our dreams, but at least then we would have said that we tried and that we truly deserve a better country for ourselves and our children.

Let’s remember everyone today, those whose names will be flashing on our screens, but more importantly, those who will remain anonymous to most of us, except to their grieving families and friends, those who still tried to make a living in Lebanon, because they had no other choice or because they had made the choice to stay here, despite the tragic odds.

It is hard to keep the faith, it is sometimes very hard in fact. Today we express and we mourn and stand in shock. Tomorrow we remember and the day after we may very well forget. I’ve seen myself repeating the same words and frustrations for years on end and because of that I have little hope. I try, but it is hard. Will this ever end?


4 Replies to “Beirut, Yet Again”

  1. Dear Marina, I wish you would translate this beautiful heartfelt article into Arabic and go for a wider audience in Lebanon Pity to limit your readership. Kind regards Amr

    From: Eye on the East <> Reply-To: Eye on the East <> Date: Saturday, 28 December 2013 11:25 To: Amr Ben Halim <> Subject: [New post] Beirut, Yet Again

    Eye on the East posted: “Yesterday’s explosion in Beirut – killing former Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah among around seven others who remain to be identified – is a sad way to end a year already painted blood-red. With the ongoing violence and bombings in Tripoli, Dahiyeh, an”

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