Of Hope In Times of Destruction

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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As I am writing this on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, hundred of thugs are storming the peaceful protests in Beirut.

I am deeply pained to see, be it from afar, how people of the same country are trying to destroy what the revolutionaries have been trying to build over the past 13 days. I feel pity for people who are starved, physically and mentally and are afraid to break their chains to reach their freedom, one of the most basic rights of human beings. I see the destruction they leave behind. The rage with which they tore the tents down, set fire to symbols of the Revolution, and even attacked women physically. I cannot blame them. They do not know how to behave differently. When the state wasn't there for them, their current leader provided a job, a salary, maybe even a roof over their head, medical care, and the minimum that any citizen has a right to. The state has always been weak and sometimes even overtly absent in the regions away from Beirut. Who am I to condemn them? From a legal point of view, of course, they are culprits. Humanly speaking I can understand where they are coming from, even if I am privileged for having had access to the best universities in the country, currently have a job that pays well, and am financially and otherwise independent.

Many examples can be given here to illustrate how the system they belong to works. One that I found most explicit is the five monkeys experiment. The researcher held 5 monkeys in a large cage and hung up a bunch of bananas and left a ladder beneath them. Naturally, a monkey ventures to reach for the bananas. They are most appealing! It is then that the climbing monkey is sprayed with cold water to force him to go back down. And all other monkeys are also sprayed with cold water. Of course, they are bewildered and do not understand. Soon, another monkey is tempted to climb for the bananas again. The same scenario takes place with all of them getting sprayed with cold water. By the time a third monkey wants to try climbing the ladder, the other monkeys will beat him and pull him down. Now a monkey is removed and another one is introduced to the group. Of course, the newcomer will try to climb for the bananas. They look so appetizing! The rest of the group will evidently hinder him from ascending and beat him down. Where it gets interesting is when another monkey is replaced and the previous newcomer, who had never been sprayed, also pulls the recently introduced monkey to prevent him from going up the ladder for the bananas. By the end of the experiment, none of the original monkeys is in the cage and they all have somehow learned that they shouldn't try to get to the bananas. Need I explain more?...

There are examples of slavery that show the same behavioral pattern. In Lebanon, the speeches referring to the Civil War, the differences between the communities, and all the talk trying to separate the people have shown to be in vain during the past 13 days. The people have remained united. They are weirdly "calmer" on the streets: they honk less, show patience towards each other, and behave in a more "civilized" way. I am in no way saying that the Lebanese are not civilized. Most are very well-traveled and have an open mind to things in life all while remaining conservative concerning certain issues. What I have been witnessing myself in different parts of the country, as I am trying to check out protests in different cities and locations, is how we have evolved from a driving jungle to a more "organized" environment. I am not getting honked at when I take my time to take my things out of my car and another set of cars has to wait for me to pass. I am not being shouted at if the green light has turned on green and I haven't immediately hit the gas pedal as any good drag racer would. People are stopping at zebra stripes and letting pedestrians cross the street. I am overjoyed by such scenes even if I sometimes wonder, if these people are on weed, it must be damned good... and we need to legalize it asap!

What has happened a little earlier in the current crumbling system uttering its last breath. The Prime Minister's resignation is imminent and it has been palpable that he wanted to do that from the second or third day of the protests. In any case, it has been visible on all cameras and social media that the protests are peaceful, countering the bandits with songs of the Lebanese National Anthem. The Army and Law Enforcement Forces did not intervene, neither to protect nor to prevent any violence. This also shows that orders given are to avoid taking sides. And this is swell! It is very overtly apparent that the protesters have won. Because they do not have one leader, the people in power did not know how to address or how to handle them. And they miserably did what they shouldn't have done. They are giving the people their legitimacy and hammering an additional nail in their own coffins... And we are going back to the streets to rebuild what was destroyed. Long live the Revolution! Long live Lebanon!!

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