Monday, April 24, 2006

All it takes is a decision

I remember after returning to Lebanon in the early nineties, I was around 11 or 12 years old. Maybe during my first week in the country, I was in a car that my dad was driving, looking out the window and absorbing my surroundings... my country... the place I was going to live in for the next 13 years of my life. In a brave yet desperate attempt to shine some light into what was essentially a very gloomy picture, I told my dad

hey dad... you know what? at least the war had some good effects on Lebanon! Look at all the police cars. They're all brand new! I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case if the war didn't take place....
My dad looked at me. He was dumbfounded. After a long stretch of silence, he simply shrugged and told me that I had a point.

Looking back at that event, I now realize that a kid is able say such things. He can say them because he has his whole life ahead of him. He has not invested anything. Everything, to a child, is the future. The present is merely a fact he has to live with. The past is History... the History of older generations. Merely a curiosity.

Today, of course, I feel very different. When I first moved in, Traffic Cops would fire their AK-47s towards the sky to get traffic moving. Soldiers in Army checkpoints were only too willing to fire their weapons too.

I witnessed the first time trash was collected regularly in front of my grandma's house. Today... despite the innumerable problems that Lebanon faces, it now boasts a beautiful Downtown, and wonderful neighborhoods, such as Monot, Hamra, Jemayze, Verdun and more.

I literally witnessed these neighborhoods transform from shabby, colorless, emptiness into renovated, manicured and colorful quarters sprawling with life and activity. For a whole decade I painstakingly watched as street after street was paved... as sidewalks were elevated... street lights installed and trees planted. I always lived with the question: "so when will these guys finish this project?" And I looked forward to vacations, because I wanted to come back to Lebanon and notice real differences.

I am now invested.

Even though I contributed nothing material to those projects, I feel that the patience and anxiety I expended as I watched their implementation entitled me to some sort of ownership. You see... cement, asphalt and metal were not the only materials that went into those public projects. Anxiety and patience also went into them. And without a doubt, I was not the only individual who watched and waited as those construction crews diligently upgraded the services offered by our city.

Today, new police cars simply won't cut it. They would constitute a paltry bribe that would not even draw my attention – unless of course, a twelve year old points them out to me.

History is now my history... not my father's nor his father's. I can stake a claim to history. In that history I lived and grew. Today, I have something to lose. In fact, I have a lot to lose.

Yet, I feel powerless in the face of developments, and I am fearful that they may lead the country into the inferno once again. All it takes is a decision - a decision that all the politicians should refrain from making. As for Hizballah in particular. It should know that the PLO also claimed that its weapons were solely for the purpose of liberating Palestinian land. That assertion did not prevent the Lebanese civil war.



Omega80 said...

"History is now my history... not my father's nor his father's. I can stake a claim to history. In that history I lived and grew. Today, I have something to lose. In fact, I have a lot to lose."

Great way of putting it. We all have a lot to lose, but I believe things in Lebanon will never again take a turn to the worst as they did in 1975. Hezbollah is not as bad ass and scary as you think. Maybe they like to puff up their chests a lot, but it is all for show. Historically, Shias in Lebanon have been support of the Lebanese state, and in the long term, their interests do not lie with those of the Syrian regime. IF thinks were going to get ugly, it would have happened already.

Anonymous said...

Offtopic comment, I wonder how long till you are disillusionned with March 14th :-)
Couldn't find a link to the original source (and this might not be true)
But would you be surprised if this was true?


Yaakov Kirschen said...

rational people inheriting an insane history.
good luck,
and welcome to the"club".
before you know it you'll be the dad driving the car, with your kid signing on to posession of the insanity.
great posting.

Dry Bones
Israel's Political Comic Strip Since 1973