It’s not always easy for me to explain why I left Lebanon.
I usually lie, by omission that is. I talk about my education, my career, the experience of living in a different culture… And while that all may be true, it overlooks the painful truth that I had come to terms with abandoning my own beliefs: I thought that we could fix this country. I believed that hard work, not emigration, was the answer. I figured that we, the post-war generation, would know best how to avoid the mistakes of our parents, and build this country anew, set a clean slate but many thought differently.
Think about teenagers discussing politics, talking about the civil war – a war they never experienced – only to justify their support for this or that party; Listen to them echo the hate-ridden opinions of their parents
Think about the amount of educated young people who wouldn’t live in areas whose residence majority is not of their own religion. They should know better.
Talk to the generation that survived the war while staying on its sidelines, hoping they would live to see their country become the land they’ve been dreaming of, let them tell you how this country resists all change except for the one that turns our hair gray, wrinkles our skin, and weakens our will.
Look at the apathetic society we’ve become and ask yourself: Has desperation taken over our lives? If it hasn’t, then surely there must be hope for a better day. But when you’ve seen so many take to the streets chanting hate-ridden slogans, and talked with so many others only to find out that their views are as skewed as they are bigoted, their values start seeping into your veins and eat away at your soul like a poison; and the currency of hope plummets. That’s when you tell yourself:
You have to leave.
You have to leave before you become one of them: buy an apartment in a quiet religiously-homogeneous neighborhood, watch the news every now and then, curse at our hopelessness, then let apathy take over your mind as your hair turns gray and your life slips away.
You have to leave, or you have to find a new source of hope. Anything else and you’re doomed.
I used to say “Lebanon is the best place to be Lebanese”. I think I might have been wrong.