B7ebbak Ya Lebnen... (I Love You, Lebanon)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I am on my way to the airport. I cannot but notice the Lebanese flags and all the ads making use of this "national" day. It had been a week with so many SMS all claiming to avail special discounts that I was wondering how everything was turned into a commercial opportunity. This is especially eerie in a land that still has no electricity and no running water most of the times, piles of garbage across the cities and poor law enforcement when it comes to "regular citizens". Let's not even get started on politics or economics... And the SMS stream for Independence Day coincided with the Black Friday promotions. You can imagine the state of our phones ringing and/or buzzing every couple of minutes about some promotion one needed to take advantage of. So much that I could only shrug and smirk when I received the joke circulating on diverse social media channels and reading "there is only the undertaker who did not send me an SMS about Black Friday". Lebanese humor at its best...

There is barely traffic on my way to the airport. Since I am just the passenger and not the driver, I daze off and start reflecting on all the slogans I grew up with. From the "Lebnen Al Akhdar" (Lebanon the Green) to "Lebanon the Switzerland of the Middle East", I start wondering what kind of illusion did our parents and their parents passed on onto us? If my generation cannot relate to any of these already, what about the coming generations? Are we going to perpetuate that image that seems to be a mere fantasy? Has it ever existed or was it just embellished in the memories? Just like what happens when someone is dying or dies and we start to just boast their qualities and disregard anything negative about them... I am not one to say it is all doomed and nothing can be done. Situations can always be reversed. However, at the current state of affairs, it seems very unlikely that any turnabout can happen any time soon. And the Lebanese people do not even seem ready for it. The last elections and the fact that no government has been appointed yet in over a year now are more than proof that things are rather complex in the Land of the Cedars...

Almost a week earlier, there had been a large uproar on different media channels from many activists and non activists to condemn the cordoned streets in the center of Beirut where the Army was rehearsing for the military show of November 22. That Army decision that had not been broadcasted ahead lead to unbearable traffic jams and a woman had even to give birth in the car as the Red Cross could not get her to the hospital on time. The media hype was so important that the Army Command, who in fact only organizes logistics in collaboration with the other national bodies such as the national and general security commands, the Red Cross, the Scouts, etc., had to publicly apologize for the chaotic mishap. This only proves how dear the Lebanese people is to the heart of the Army and its command, isn't it? Let's remember and focus on the sacrifices the Army has undergone for our national security and all the soldiers who are sometimes ordered to do things they were not meant to be doing and who stand for Lebanon through thick and thin...

As we are approaching the airport, it dawns on me that all this ranting, that happens to be the Lebanese's national sport, could just be our national way of expressing our attachment to a country that requires a lot from us and is not giving us much back. This love hate relationship that we feel towards a country that does not even provide the basics to its citizens is not the healthiest. True. Yet, even though I feel the need to travel at least once a month to get a breath of fresh of air, I cannot help but feel some sort of nostalgia when I reach the airport to depart. And it is equally important to note that I feel somehow oppressed when I am boarding to return to the organized chaos that plagues our beloved Lebanon and that we are so accustomed to that we cannot imagine the country without it. Auf Wiedersehen Lebanon, I will be back!

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