B. goes to Beirut

out of the airport of milan and into the bus carrying me to the plane: this is when i first smelled the Lebanese. I don’t know why, and maybe it is because of the weight of the assassinations, and the killings, and most probably the last war, but all of them look like beaten dogs. I wondered if I looked the same, but I could not really notice.

So I also wondered, are the Lebanese cursed because of the wars, and the shifting alliances with foreign chancelleries, and imperial quests, or just because they don’t really relate to each other?
Once at the airport, the first billboard I see has the “I love life” logo on it. It is something to see it on blogs, and in emails, but it is definitely something else to feel it in reality. I still can’t believe these people actually did this campaign. I still can’t believe that that I don’t know how many thousand of dollars went into something that stupid. You should check this blog that deconstruct what’s behind the deepness “I love life” thought.

Then you have the usual jewelry and bank ads. The traditionally strong sectors in the economy. Maybe the only sectors state policy has historically recognized as being worthy of attention. By the way, Banks in Lebanon have been spoiled so much that today the government owes most of its debt to them. And the economic plan of the government is to make sure the banks don’t suffer one tiny bit from the restructuring process, only the average dudes that put their money in those banks.

Once I arrive at the passport control point, I greet the guy with my naive marhaba happy to be here kind of warm declaration, only to be answered with total silence. Obviously the guy is not very happy.

As soon as I am out I am greeted with the counter campaign “I love life with respect”, “I love life in colors”, I love life in lebanon, etc. campaign. Good, the billboards utter the symbolic political confrontation.

Anyway, I’m just very bad at long narration so I’ll spare you the details of my next few days. What I want to say is this:

Everybody can talk of revolution etc. and many individuals would think of it highly inside (I don’t doubt it), but all the Lebanese (leaders especially) end up finding compromise as the only solution they have. In Lebanon you either compromise or you break the country in pieces (what you should is merge it to another one, dillute it).

But as long as Lebanon wants to remain Lebanon (meaning a country that is only a country, because people who perceive themselves as ‘different’ from each others, have decided to live together ‘with their differences’) there will never be any change.

At the symbolic level, my point is that Lebanese should stop perceiving themselves as ‘different’ from each other. They all look alike. Seriously when I stepped into the bus, they all looked so alike. So sad as if somebody punished them.

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4 Replies to “B. goes to Beirut”

  1. Bech, it’s said to be easier to love and hate those who most closely resemble ourselves. As for “I love life”, in Nietzsche’s words, “The living being [not excluding constituents of ALL Lebanese parties] is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species”, which would more accurately translate into an “I Love Death (in Black & White)” campaign, no? In which case, we’ve all been hoodwinked. And besides, if history & Nietszche are right, internecine war takes centre-stage to world wars, maybe because it’s logistically easier to embrace death on a local scale. Look no further than the stories of fratricide rife in the holy books. Unholy.

  2. It is sad for us Lebanese living abroad, to be perceived us Lebanese, and perceive others as Lebanese and then when you get to Lebanon, you no longer are perceived as a Lebanese.

  3. wecome home, bech
    the sadness is in the fact that the rich who can afford to say “i love life” ignore the needs and rights of the great majority who would like to enjoy life but cannot afford it…blindness is dangerous

  4. Hi Bech,
    Hope you’re having a good time in Beirut.

    The billboards war has become quite annoying. I have grown quite disgusted at the I love life, I love life too signs all over the place. But hey, at least it’s better than the ‘lan nansa’ ones! That’s just emotional terrorism and blackmail!! Just as we think things couldn’t get any worse and politicians couldn’t go any lower, we are surprised by yet more below-the-belt remarks and a war of words. People have become quite unbearable to talk to, too. After a few words, all you hear about is politics. The most interesting conversations are in “services” (the cheap version of taxis). I had a few words with this service driver the other day, and he started talking, he talked for a good 15 minutes… At first he sounded quite sane. Well, I think he was more sane than anyone I’ve talked to so far. He was rather old; he told me how sick he was of all the political bickering, and how it was all for politicians’ gains, whether they were from this side or that side. Then he told me about how the people drive like crazy and there’s no order, and then he said, you know what the problem is? There is too much freedom. No, actually, this is not even freedom anymore. This is total anarchy. LOL! Then he said, what Lebanon needs is a dictator, someone who will force things on people, because there’s no other way this country can truly work and be normal. It was fun listening to him, I must admit. But I was a bit thrown off-guard with that dictator comment.

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